Monday, December 9, 2013

walking away

It was my first summer as an 8th grade counselor at Camp Arcadia, and even though it was four years ago now I can still picture this exact moment. 

It was the end of the week, and for Bible study we took the kids on a walk through the woods. They were instructed to walk single file through the woods, keeping space between each other, following the person in front of them. There were a few spots they were instructed to stop and read a Bible passage, and then continue their walk. As counselors, we were placed throughout the walk to keep kids on the right path.

I knew this Bible study, and I knew the power of this walk and journey through the woods. I had done a similar walk in their shoes, as an 8th grade camper and again every summer I was on staff. Each time I participated in it, it impacted me differently.

This particular time, it was the closing of a great week. I was excited because my group of kids had gotten to know each other and formed a bond. I was proud of the ways they had grown individually and happy to see them participate in this final Bible study.

My post was at the end of the walk, watching them walk out of the forest and on to the beach where our Dean, Travis, would wrap things up. As I stood at my post and began to watch the kids come by, silently one by one, the emotion hit. I realized I could talk and counsel and guide and goof around with these kids throughout the week just fine...but now I had to let them go.

There, in the bubble that is Camp Arcadia, I could protect them. Keep them safe. Keep them out of trouble. But they had to leave the next day and would face the real world once again, with what we all hoped would be a new perspective and stronger faith. I couldn't keep them there forever to keep them was time for me to let go. Despite the lump in my throat and the tears threatening to spill out, all I could do was pray for them.

I remember that feeling almost every day at work. With the families in the shelter, I can talk for hours in hopes to get them to do the next steps to lead them to success on their own. I can lecture about budgeting and affordability of their new home. I can educate them about renting and their rights as a tenant. I can point them in the right direction a million times in the thirty days they have here. But when the thirty days is up or they choose to leave on their own without a stable home to go to, I know I have to let go. 

For you, you'll never know names or see these faces. They won't be etched in your mind and won't keep you awake at night. But please, please pray for them. Our shelter is always full. And there are always families there. And if there is nothing else you or I can do for them when they walk away, we can pray.

And, if you're feeling up to can do a little extra Christmas shopping for them. Click here for details.

Be the change. Make the difference. 


  1. I remember so much wanting to keep you safe and protect you and your sister from the real world. But yes, you have to let go and let them fly! All you can do is pray that you provided with the tools to fly! You're such a good person Jessie. Nice post!