Most Christians are familiar with this Bible verse from the Gospel of Matthew, 19:14. “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'” (NIV). Somewhat less well known is this verse from the Book of Ben, 4:16. “Little children are adorable and really cute but they really get on your nerves sometimes” (BSV).
True, the Book of Ben is not in the Bible, but it should be, in my opinion! I love kids, I really do. However, spending more than a few hours herding them through the hallways and keeping them focused in the classrooms of Camp Hutchison can lose its charm on days when my temper is short and the children are rowdy. Why do I bother? I often ask myself one of the most basic human questions about Camp Hutchison: What do I get out of this? I don’t get paid and I don’t get fed; setting aside the awesome blue T-shirt, there is no material reward for being a counselor at Camp Hutchison.
This camp is not about money, it’s not about reward, and it’s not about me. This is about the children that, by the miracle of God’s Holy Spirit working in the lives of hundreds of volunteers, are able to come to a safe environment every school day for four straight weeks to eat, learn, and have fun. That is the purpose of this camp. In convincing myself to give up two weeks of my “valuable” (or so I like to think) time, I listed a lot of reasons why I should be willing to give up ten days. Here are a few: giving kids a learning experience during the summer keeps them from losing all their knowledge and skills over the long summer break. Providing a safe place for these children to come keeps them away from the extensive gang network in the Hutchison area. Two square meals a day is a luxury that not all of these children get at home. These are excellent reasons to give up my time.
What I did not expect before volunteering was that Camp Hutchison would be good for me. Serving as a counselor for a dozen or so kids is an excellent way of practicing responsibility and leadership. On top of that, it’s just plain fun! I really do enjoy spending time with these children. Over the past two days we’ve listened to a great story, played some math games, put together food projects, played music games, and had great fun during recess. One of the girls in my group told me today that she didn’t want to go home. As I answered her I had to admit to myself that I didn’t want to leave either! I have eight more days left as a counselor, and I know each one of them will be special… even the days when my temper is short and the children are rowdy.