What I Learnt From Camp

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Last weekend, I went for my GB girls’ Junior Leadership Training Camp, held at a primary school. Now I usually am not a fan of camps – I think young people now are extremely jaded about it, but the teacher-in-charge who was supposed to attend had to go for a wisdom tooth surgery so somebody had to take over. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant, nor a non-pleasant experience: I love spending time with the GB girls, and any time or energy spent doing work (which is how I categorise my GB volunteering) that involves preaching and teaching Christ to people is the best use of time; but I can’t deny that it’s the most hectic part of my semester now, and a lot of the time before camp I was chionging schoolwork, being annoyed about having to cancel tuition and miss church (the youths had an outing and as a mentor I should have supervised, although there were other people who could go; and I also missed library duty).

As usual, though, it wasn’t time wasted. God, in His own mighty way, used this camp and my not-always-ideal attitude towards it to teach me the following valuable lessons –

1. It is too easy to be self-centered.

It really is. Throughout the camp, especially when the haze was really bad and I was really uncomfortable (sinus acted up) and exhausted (the night before camp I stayed up really late to finish my part of a project, and of course during camp one never gets sufficient rest), all I could focus on was – I wish I wasn’t here. I even found myself, at times, resenting the other teachers-in-charge, the one who went for her wisdom tooth op, and another who was supposed to take over me, but also got into a bike accident and broke her leg, making her unable to come. It shocked me, really, how easy it was for me to be selfish and to only think about how inconvenienced I was about the entire thing, as if my time is worth more than anyone else’s.

Of course, then the very many other teachers and GB volunteers at camp shamed me out of my self-pitying. Not directly, of course. But when I see how many of them are teachers (recall this is their first break since the start of school, and still they come for a weekend camp; and if they are GB teachers too it means they go for GB council meetings, and every Saturday they go back to school for CCA), or when I see that there are 40, 50-year-old women who have given years and years of service to the Brigade, who lie down in sleeping bags and shower with one tub of water and a ladle without complaint, who have come to a gazillion of such camps and yet still have the enthusiasm they need to encourage and guide the girls… well, I’m shamed into silence. And that is just a minor part of what Paul means by pouring out one’s life as an offering for God; what Jesus means by dying to ourselves as we pick up our cross and follow Him; C. S. Lewis / Tim Keller mean when they say a true Christian thinks not more of himself or less of himself, but of himself less.

2. I’m not as indispensable as I often think I am. 

The youths in church survived fine without me, and in fact had fun during the downpour that could potentially have put me in a panic if I were there. The world kept turning even though I was at camp. I think in our busy-ness and faux-connectedness (through social media and Whatsapp), we fall into the trap of thinking we need to be at this place and we must do this thing or everything falls apart, we lose out somehow and will perish a painful death. Now, I am not shirking responsibility, of course – if a group project is due, one should do one’s part, regardless of a GB camp. But I am saying that we overweigh our importance, and we overrate the experiences that we think we have to be a part of.

3. God loves children (: 

It’s hard to not love children, and obviously loving kids is one big reason I volunteer with the GB on Saturdays. But I’m really thankful that this camp reminded me again why God has a special place, I think, for children. There is a reason that Jesus was indignant (one of the few times He was angry while He was on earth) when the disciples prevented the children from coming to Him. Being with the children, seeing their enthusiasm and joy, hearing their quirky questions and thoughts (‘If there’s the Father and the Son, is the Holy Spirit Jesus’ mother?’), seeing their absorption of gospel truths and Christian values… just really thankful.

God was faithful as always, too. On Saturday the haze was building up to be really bad, and MOE gave a heads-up, saying that it may reach the unhealthy zone (thus prohibiting outdoor activities, i.e. most of the camp activities). It didn’t, though, and on Sunday it gloriously rained quite heavily, making the air fresh and the grass green (: Of course it’s been raining everyday ever since, but after more than a month of dryness and heat, am not complaining.

4. I am way too reliant on coffee. 

Haha, nothing too serious. Or maybe this is serious. Didn’t have coffee at all (I usually take 2 cups a day) the two days and found myself barely functioning. Time to cut down and develop better sleeping habits if I can!

On the whole, although I was beyond-glad to be home on Sunday night, I’m also really thankful that God revealed some (rather unflattering) truths about myself to me, and reminded me to love more. Time to translate all that into real action and learn to focus on Him, and on others – at the end of it, I was the one who most needed to learn that I am ‘called to serve’ (:

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