What an amazing summer! The only way I can describe it is like a roller coaster, fast moving and ever changing with super high-highs and a few dips down low. When I look back, it feels like a giant, thrilling blur. We raced from welcome day to closing day to another welcome day to visiting day. From special event to special event, to the end of summer Banquet! We played Ship-to-Shore, Family Feud, trivia, Ditch, killer ball, pickle ball, and parachute games. We ate ice cream sundaes, Bomb Pops, Chipwiches (35,000 calories worth for Randy, to be exact), and s’mores. We raced from the waterfront to the archery range, from arts-and-crafts to the rifle range. We found time to appreciate the beauty around us as we watched the clouds, created art, gazed at the stars and fished in the lake. Our hearts were full of faith, love and gratitude as we attended church and inspirational service, shared our deepest feelings during vespers and morning talks, and participated in meaningful service for others. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The absolute best part of being a camp director is the privilege of standing back at a distance and watching a life changing transformation take place for the girls. I watched labels such as “popular”, “dumb”, “weird”, “not good enough”, “ADD”, and “shy” fade away, opening the door to true and genuine friendship. I witnessed the joy that comes from receiving an award that takes years to earn (there are no “sympathy” awards given at camp, only awards that are worth being proud of). I watched many, many tears shed as the day of “goodbye” drew near. I saw good healthy competition, where two respectable teams thanked and praised one another for being honorable opponents…how refreshing (the world could learn a lot from JDA girls)! I saw sister loving sister, when the other was unwell. I saw smiles, so many smiles! I saw lots and lots of hugs: hugs of comfort, hugs of celebration and hugs of compassion. I saw the older girls taking care of the younger, what a precious sight. I saw girls, who were once afraid, begin to feel safe enough to let down their guard and join the fun. I watched girls, whom I thought would never overcome homesickness, begin to feel at home. I call this “the miracle of Camp Jeanne d’Arc.” The smiles became easy, natural and true. I saw the development of faith, endurance, courage and confidence; Colonel’s dream was once again realized.
The last night of post-camp, many of our staff sat together around the large table in the Chalet. We recognized that we represented 6 of the 7 continents of the world, our own “UN” of sorts. We broke bread together (pizza to be exact), we laughed (hard), we shared stories, we shared our cultures, and we shared our “loving hertes.” What an experience we had enjoyed together; something that no one else in the entire world would understand but those that spent the summer of 2016 at the beautiful, extraordinary Camp Jeanne d’Arc.
Sandy Abbott, Camp Director