Jr. Highers are great. They’re fun. They’re always exploring. They offer up a never-ending variety of olfactory concoctions that always staves off boredom… But being in charge of a camp full of them caused me great stress. I still have hair, but I’m sure more of it is gray now!
I like camp to be pretty laid back. It’s church camp, not boot camp, so there’s a good amount of freedom in the schedule. As you and I would both expect, some Jr. Highers at our camp took advantage of that freedom in some pretty negative ways. When they came and explained what they’d done, they actually painted a far worse picture than what actually happened.
The knee jerk of most of the camp staff was send them packing. Call the parents and get them out of camp immediately. Since I was the dean, though, the call was mine to make. I’ve never been one to do things the easy way, so I didn’t kick them out. I’d given them the freedom to choose. They chose poorly. But the consequence (of which there were many) was not going to be that they go home. I didn’t feel like they’d learn anything that way. So I offered grace enough to keep them there.
It struck me that we’re all the same. God gives us way more freedom to choose than what I’d given the campers. And we all go around picking on the weaker kids and making messes for someone else to clean up (that’s a sanitized statement of what they did AND what we do). We take the freedom that God gives us and misuse it for our own benefit and positioning. And God gives us grace that allows us to stay in camp.