A Reflection by Katelyn Kenney, UH Senior, who served on Senior Staff at Camp Allen this past summer

It’s been nearly a month since my time on Senior Staff at Camp Allen drew to a close, but the memory of my summer spent in the Piney Woods is just as strong as the day I left. Life-changing experiences are not easily forgotten. For three months, God challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and encourage others to do the same. Each day was spent exhausting my resources in the best possible way through singing, playing games, teaching archery, lifeguarding, etc., and each night, I returned home desperately needing rest, but feeling full of joy.

We train for two and a half weeks for this job, but no job description can accurately summarize the work done at Camp Allen, especially when the work is done alongside some of the best people you’ve ever met. Most of what we do is a function of two things: 1) our foundation in Christ and 2) our connection to our team members. Going into this summer, my primary focus was the campers. Building life-long relationships, I’ll admit, was not my top priority. Boy, did God turn my world around. This summer, I gained 23 of my closest friends. Our team quickly became a family, and God was absolutely the catalyst. There isn’t really a better ice breaker than believing in the Good News. These people are incredibly funny, loving and servant-hearted, and I have learned so much from each of them. The number of inside jokes and times I laughed until I cried are innumerable. I really can’t find the words to explain the feeling of waking up and getting to work with your best friends every single day. We still regularly keep in touch with each other through social media, so our community is never too far away, no matter where we are.

Writing about camp is a difficult task of finding words for something that I cannot fully comprehend, even after experiencing it. What I can say is anyone who wakes up and spends 12+ hours in the Texas heat serving campers with their own unique stories packed up in their trunks while constantly receiving love and support from their coworkers is not going to be the same person they were before they embarked on this crazy journey. Now that I’m back at school, I find myself feeling nostalgic, but not in a sad, “I-miss-it-so-much-I-want-to-go-back” way. Because I spent the whole summer being surrounded by believers, my faith grew, and I know that God doesn’t call us to stay on the mountaintop (or in the woods). I knew coming back to real life would be complicated, but I also know God is bigger, and that there’s no sense in wishing I were somewhere else when God has called me to be right where I am. I definitely miss the lake and the dance and the free ice cream (oh, Canteen…) and all of my friends, but being on Senior Staff has prepared me for what is yet to come. Camp is not meant to last forever; it’s meant to change us forever.