Sabrina Jurey spent half of her summer internship as an Eco-Steward at Bluestone Camp and Retreat during their summer camp program. In this post, she reflects on her time at Bluestone. She is now serving the rest of her internship at First Presbyterian Church in Hinton, WV.
If West Virginia is “almost heaven,” then, sprawled across one of her rolling mountains, surely yet another step closer, is Bluestone Camp and Retreat. Looking out over sometimes-vibrant, sometimes-misty green hills and cradled under a bright blue sky, it is an incredible place to spend a summer.
And I am blessed and lucky enough that is where I spent the first part of mine. After the Stewardship of the Land conference at Bluestone, my fellow Eco-Stewards headed off for other internships, for summer college courses, or for life outside of camp. I remained there, up on that mountain.
I had a week-and-a-half almost completely to myself, for personal reflection, for plotting, for planning, and for pondering all that was going on in my life and all that was going to go on.
And then staff began to arrive. I found myself in the midst of a family of friends who knew one another and had worked together in previous summers. I hoped but didn’t know yet that at the end of five weeks, I would be part of this family.
We trained and bonded as a staff, and before we knew it, campers arrived for week one. And before I could blink, I sat with a group in front of me, looking expectantly at me, waiting for me to teach them something about the environment.
It is an interesting moment, this one, when you realize that you are supposed to have some wisdom to impart to others.
I cannot promise that any actual wisdom came from my lips, but I talked to those campers, and they talked to me. We conversed back and forth, and brainstormed together. Our particular topic for these lessons was trash, and more specifically, how we can create less trash in our lives by reducing, reusing, and recycling. That first lesson lasted about 35 minutes; the next went for about 40. After the first day, groups were spending an hour with me, and a few had enough to say that our lessons lasted closer to an hour and twenty minutes.
I, apparently, made my point to at least a few campers. For the most part, the counselors told me that their groups enjoyed my lessons. Some of the fourth week campers were disappointed that they got only one eco-lesson for the week. The camp director’s wife told me that their son wanted to make some changes in his life … because of what we talked about at eco-time.
I came out of the first week of camp encouraged and humbled by my reception, and that feeling only continued through the rest of camp. The younger kids were creative beyond what I was expecting when we thought about how to reuse that which would otherwise be thrown away; the older campers sometimes got side-tracked–because they wanted to talk about the oil spill in the Gulf, food-related issues, or other important eco-justice issues. I was impressed with the discussions we had.
And, as much as the campers may (or may not) have learned from me, I learned from them–and from the rest of the staff, and from the whole of the camp experience.
I learned the subtle art of keeping a conversation on task … more or less.
I learned the power of positive thinking–that a hot day means we get to enjoy ice cream and popsicles even more.
I learned that you can never drink enough water.
I learned that if you open your eyes some, practically anything in the trash can become part of a robot.
I learned that some eight-year-olds are already on the super-hero path, ready to save the world in a myriad of small ways.
I learned that I may be stubborn, but God is persistent. I learned (as I have before) that I come alive when I get to work with kids. I learned that God wants me in children’s and youth ministry … and maybe this time, that knowledge will stick.
The Bluestone Song says it best:
“Can’t stay on the mountain while life goes on below
But I’m bound now and determined to take her when I go
Don’t want to go from where I came … I want to live like I’ve been changed
Got a family beside me and the Lord above to guide me
No matter where I go from here I’ll always be at home.”