Taking a Bow

“So you’re off to camp again, huh?” numerous people asked me as I got ready to leave for yet another action-packed week at YLF.
I would say “yes” or nod my head, which would then lead to another question.
“How long are you going to keep doing this?
“Not too much longer,” I would say. “I’m training in a new director, and she’ll be working as my assistant this year.”
Some of my readers may be aware that each summer, I direct a camp for high school students with disabilities, and the way in which I became the director happened rather unexpectedly. In a way, I was thrown into leading the organization, not fully ready for the challenges that waited for me on the horizon. Although it was often difficult, I kept striving forward until I finally reached sort of a calm consistency in my leadership. In terms of riding a bike, I was coasting.
But as this summer came around, I began to feel restless. I had turned over some of the planning to our board, and although I had less to do, I was a bit stressed as I wondered if the work was actually getting done. But where I didn’t stress was with my director-to-be, this summer’s assistant. Although young and rather inexperienced, she reminded me of myself when I first started off as assistant director. I was an enthusiastic 26-year-old who just wanted to see YLF succeed. Although only 21, my assistant director held so much promise for the future of our camp. She was eager, driven, compassionate toward the students and staff, and well-rounded socially. She had room to grow in certain areas, but I had every confidence that she would succeed.
As our week at camp progressed, I watched my assistant director bloom. It was like watching a theater play in rehearsal. At first, the scenes don’t flow together and seem disjointed with the lack of practice, but little by little, everything starts to come together and a play has its opening night. As I carefully guided her through the process of directing, I saw how my assistant began to make her own decisions about our camp. She started to find the balance between seeing me as the director with authority and recognizing herself as the one who would soon be taking the baton.
As I watched her spread her wings, I thought of my early days as director. I didn’t have much guidance during that season, and I had to figure a lot of it out on my own. I didn’t want my assistant to feel that kind of stress and panic, so I sought to make her transition as seamless as possible. I also wanted to portray to her my faith and the way in which I had survived those early days.
In a heartfelt conversation our last night at camp, my assistant thanked me for giving her the opportunity to direct and she referenced my closeness to God as an inspiration to her. Although I was saddened at transitioning out of YLF, my heart became lighter at her words. I had done my best to live out my relationship with Christ in my work at YLF, and I was overjoyed to see that it had made an impact.
As I literally handed over the baton of leadership at our final graduation ceremony this summer, I did so with tears streaming down my face. It wasn’t because I was sad to leave; it was because I was honored to embrace the future. It was time for me to bow out and give the spotlight to someone else. In that moment, I once more gave my life’s goals and ambitions over to God, for He has and always will be my leader… the One in the spotlight. True, I will be back at camp next summer to shadow the new director and make sure she has everything she needs, but in official terms, I am no longer director.
It’s like the quote I read on Facebook not too long ago. My role at YLF with the assistant director is a mirrored example of my relationship with Christ. I would like to close with these words from an anonymous source.
“If the world is a stage, and we are actors in a play… acknowledging that God will always have the leading role and the spotlight, then it seems to me that what determines if I play a supporting role or just a cameo is my closeness to Him.”

5 thoughts on “Taking a Bow

  1. I recall my first summer YLF camp at Whitewater as the camp nurse. What a rewarding experience. So many good people. So many stories. I often wonder what became of all those campers and staff that had so much potential to be successful. I believe I was at 5 camps.

  2. Hi Paul! I’m so glad you’re reading this! It absolutely made my day!
    Hey, so obviously, I haven’t forgotten about your days working with YLF. We were actually just talking about you the other day and wondering what you were up to. Drop us a line some time at wisconsinylf@gmail.com or http://www.facebook.com/wisconsinYLF. We are hoping to put together a 15-year YLF reunion in 2015 since our first annual was in 2000. Would you consider attending?
    Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. After teaching Social Studies in Montana I have returned to Madison and teach an Alternative High School class in Mineral Point. I commute everyday which is a great deal of driving. I also work part time for Contemporary Services Corporation which manages security at UW sporting events such as football and basketball. During the school year I am very busy. I have not done any nursing for sometime now. Attending a YLF reunion would be very special. Keep me posted.

      1. Thank you for the updates! I’m glad you are keeping busy and doing well! I’m sad to hear you are not nursing much anymore, but I’m sure you are doing what you feel called to do. I will definitely keep you posted on the reunion! Thanks for replying!

  3. Hi, Paul,
    I thought I would give you an update on our YLF reunion so you can attend if you have the chance.
    It will be at Brittingham Park in Madison on July 25 from 12-5 p.m.! We hope you can make it!
    We are also having a networking event that you can attend in addition to or if you can’t make it to the reunion. That will be at Edgewood College on July 28 at 5 p.m. We would love to have you there too!

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