Just Breathe & Just Be
“Where is Ewalu? Is it E-WAY-LU or E-WAH-LOW? Is there WIFI down in the woods? What is it?”
In the past eleven summers I have served as summer staff, these questions have come naturally to me in almost everyday conversations. I have described to them our “home away from home,” the description of what our supportive board and staff strive for, the impressive history of our summers, etc. The responses to their questions came so natural; no script, no rehearsal. However, there is one question that comes up in every single one of those conversations and … (psst) it’s my favorite:
“What do you do there?”
In truth, there are two different ways to answer this question. The first answer revolves around the literal and physical sense of what I have done or do now. My first year on summer staff (2007) began with counseling Day Camps only; a summer that made me respect and love Day Camps. After counseling on base camp in 2009, I jumped around to M.A.D. Camp (2010, 2011, 2015), Night Camp (2010, 2011), Day Camp (2012), Arts & Crafts (2013-2017), and now as the 2018 Trailroom Coordinator.
But in August of 2017, after a time of trial and personal struggles, I drove down a highway with no destination; my heart filled with pain, anxiety, and fear of what was to come in my life. Suddenly, I heard a song on my favorite radio station. It seemed as if God called in to Life 101.9 with a DJ song request. Then, almost hypnotized, I pulled over to the side of the road and I began to take the words of the chorus to a new meaning for my heart and a new answer to my favorite question.
“Breathe, just breathe. Come and rest at my feet. And be, just be. Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe.”
– “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz
Back to the question: What do I do here at Ewalu?
The second answer to the question can be harder to respond if you’ve never been on summer staff or have been a witness to what can take place here. The fear of a Pioneer camper climbing the Leap of Faith, but celebrate with them when they take that chance and say “Not today” to their fear. The sound of laughter and water rushing towards the pool deck as M.A.D. campers and their counselors have an aquatic dance-off. The questions asked by Confirmation Camp that are hard and answerless, but being honest with them when you don’t have an answer. It’s being the most tired, physically, mentally, and spiritually, than what you’ve ever been before. These were my personal experiences.
With this being my last summer on staff, I have made it a goal to look at Ewalu in a new perspective. Since the campers began coming, I am constantly on the lookout for those “just breathe and just be” moments. I am pausing mid-way into packing trail lunches to watch Mini campers and their counselors play Four Square in front of Cedar Lodge. I find myself standing in the back row log of Central Plains to meditate as L.T.’s and summer staff sing songs after a Wednesday night campfire. I swing in a hammock and smile as a counselor listens eagerly to their camper talk of a happy time back home over a Canteen treat.
Those are the moments I am striving for and so much more. I yearn for moments to stop whatever it is I am doing and breathe; just be. I have felt this is my time to step back and let the amazing summer staff I’ve been surrounded in to continue. With my time left, I am just breathing in this ministry that not only has touched my soul, but thousands of others before me. I am just being in the moment that has been blessed before me.
Now I can hear another song beating my heart to a rhythm, as if God called in another DJ song request:
“Faithful servant, well done.”
2018 Trailroom Coordinator