After three years of Summer Staff, there have been times I wonder why I decide to keep coming back. Having been a camp kid all my life, I always knew that I wanted to serve on Summer Staff. The “cool kids” who got to stay at camp all summer long were the pinnacle of Christian leadership and service in my young eyes. I aspired to the goal of serving as long as I could on Summer Staff. After going through Foundation Camp twice and turning seventeen, LWBC’s Media Department was calling my name.

Two amazing summers later and I still write from the office I worked in my first year. At any given time, I may be working on social media posts, running around taking pictures of the campers or preparing an interview for the blog. My job combines my love for creating something memorable with the option for me to get out of the main office and spend time with campers in God’s Creation.

Being my third year, I realized that some of the childish joy that I used to get from simply being on Summer Staff was no longer lingering over my daily work. Much of my job is repeated daily or due by the end of the week, so pressure builds up on deadlines and can quickly erase any notion of taking time out to focus on why I am doing what I am doing. Thus, it wasn’t until about midway through Kids Camp 1 that I found my purpose for this summer; The reason why I choose to serve on Summer Staff.

It was closing in on dusk, and, despite the large number of Summer Staff engaged in dorm leading or Foundation Camp, there was a small group with time for fellowship for the evening. We decided to pull a board game out to play on the patio of the lodge. There always tends to be a favorite board game of the summer among the Summer Staff and the beautifully designed Chinese game “Tsuro” was trending in popularity. A young camper also walked up to us, casually interested in seeing the game played. After we had played for a few minutes, one of the first-year Summer Staff asked me and another one of the experienced staffers why we had come back for another summer. After giving her a lame, uninspired answer, I responded with the same question, asking, “Well, why are you here?” Jokingly, I directed the question to the camper who was watching us as well. Before anyone else could answer, the kid responded with one concise phrase: “Watching you.”

All of a sudden I was hit by why I was here at Living Waters Bible Camp this summer. I know that my own growth continues here, but I have spent the last ten years of my life gaining from camp, which is by no means a bad thing, but it is inherently selfish. Now, I’m here to reinvest. To give back to the place where God worked through me these last ten years. The kids who are here at camp are watching me and how I serve here at camp. Leading by example while the next generation of servant leaders watch how I do my work is the best way I can give back to camp and serve God. Continuity is only possible if there are examples of what the goal is. Each volunteer here at camp is an example of what servant leadership looks like. If, through God’s power, I can show campers and staff what Christian servant leadership looks like, then a summer is a small price to pay. 

-Jackson Thompson