I have found recently that my activities have driven me to a place where I am in the position to start over in a sense. A year ago, I never would have dreamed that I’d be the director of YLF, the sole adult responsible for twenty-some teens and staff for an entire week. At this time last year, I was assisting a well-versed member of the committee who sponsored and managed our camp for years. With him in charge, I felt safe, guided, and protected. Sure, there was a great deal of stress involved, but I knew that if something terrible happened, Joe would be there to pick up the pieces and make everything okay.
But one day during camp last year, Joe announced that he was leaving campus. “You’ve got this,” he said. “I have confidence in you.”
“What?! You can’t leave me here! What if something happens?”
“I’m sure everything will be fine,” he assured me.
But everything was not fine. Within two hours of Joe leaving campus, a staff member became unconscious, the security alarms in the building went off, and a speaker showed up unannounced. I was stressed, overextended, and worried that I would never measure up as director. I greeted the unexpected speaker with a smile and a frazzled “I’m sorry; I didn’t know you were coming. What can I do to help you set up?”
After that day’s incident, I made it my mission to respond to each stressful, unplanned situation with a new perspective. I wanted to have a good attitude, even when I just wanted to start over. I couldn’t go back and remedy the disaster, so I simply made the best of the situation.
As I prepared for camp this year, I knew Joe wouldn’t be there to hold my hand. I would have an incredible staff with me, but I still faced the uncertainty of whether I would actually be able to pull it off— me as director. There were many sleepless nights as I prepared, and the morning before I departed for camp, I finally felt that I was indeed ready. That level of calm only lasted for about an hour.
I reached into my bathroom cabinet to pull out a set of towels and linens to pack away for camp. That was when I made a terrible discovery. I quickly learned that bathroom cleaner and towels don’t make for a good combination. Some of the cleaning solution had landed on the towels, and six out of my eight towels were a complete loss. I looked down at the mass of shredded fabric and screamed. I had never seen such a mess! Even though this disaster had nothing to do with camp, I was rattled. If this was any indication of the week to come, I was in for it! I started to panic, and once more doubts rose to the surface of my mind.
My assistant director encouraged me to look forward to the coming day— the start of camp and staff training. Her encouragement and the prayers of others back at home was my source of strength as I made the four-day-hour journey to our host college.
Once on campus, I quickly learned how to roll with the punches even when plans changed at a moment’s notice. A speaker became ill before the start of camp and couldn’t join us for the week; another speaker got lost on the way to the college. Another speaker’s car broke down and prevented her from joining us; a camper simply didn’t arrive, and there were several times when minor crises rattled me. But with my staff, an attitude of perseverance, and God’s strength on my side, I tacked each challenge as it came to the forefront. I could have looked at everything that went wrong and demanded or dreamed of a redo. After all, my towels were ruined and camp activities were far from expectations. But there is no such thing as perfection, and I knew it would be unrealistic to live in the mindset that I deserved better.
As the week at camp drew to an end, I realized I had not given in to anger or tears at any time throughout the week. Sure, I had experienced frustrations, but in the end, I learned that there were rewards in the imperfections. I was granted the opportunity to think quickly on my feet, to take the unexpected in stride, and respond calmly when things went wrong. I, along with the campers and staff learned about the importance of leadership and working through problem-solving strategies when we didn’t know what to do. We faced our share of challenges without our trusted adult leadership team, but I and the others found that we could indeed stand on our own. We didn’t need a redo; we would excel in the midst of our circumstances.