[B]eing in the Greater Toronto Area was another amazing week. The city was beautiful and full of life. The people were generally nice and welcoming and the people I made connections with were some of the most genuinely caring people I have ever met. I was able to work for the first week of a church youth camp called Summit Sports. The camp brings kids from the community together and teaches them basic skills for the sport they signed up for. The camp cost money but they sponsor many of the kids who cannot afford it so that they also can be a part of the camp. The camp is a wonderful place where kids can have fun all day and also hear the word of God and do devotions.

I found that working for the camp was right up my alley. I love working with kids and helping them learn new skills. I was a leader for the basketball group and in charge of two kids specifically. One of them was 7, named Rylan, and the other was 13, named Lucas. They both were wonderful kids in very different ways.

Rylan was one of the youngest kids at camp, very shy, and at first was not very responsive to the coach. After some time of really trying to break down his wall, he started to open up more to me and began to listen well. He was never very focused but I saw a lot of improvement in his skills and his social abilities. He didn’t seem to be a kid that got out and played much. He talked mostly about video games and Legos, but at the end of the week he was talking more with the other kids and would ask about what games we would be playing and if we could do a certain drill. It was awesome seeing so much joy in his smile and conversation when just days earlier he wouldn’t smile or say nearly two sentences to me.

Lucas was the polar opposite of Rylan. He was one of the oldest campers we had. He was very outgoing, loved to play sports, and never wanted to leave camp. He was so enthusiastic about the drills and put all that he had out on the court. He was very well mannered and gave none of the leaders any problems. It’s hard to say much about Lucas’s improvement over the week because he was such an awesome kid to begin with. One thing I did love to see changing in him was his interest in devotions. The first day we did devotions, none of the kids were very focused or wanted to sit and listen to their leaders talk about the Bible. By the end of the week though, Lucas was getting engaged to the stories and asked good questions. The other kids in my group also started participating more by the end of the week, but being closest to Lucas, I saw it in him the most.

The campers were great, but the other staff members where so amazing. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. A married couple I met while working there, the Weavers, found out that I didn’t have anything to bring for lunch each day was eating the free left over pizza the church had in their freezer. Misses Weaver, without asking me, started making me a sack lunch for everyday of the rest of the camp. They were so generous giving their time and energy to be a part of this camp and helping anyone with any of their problems. I truly saw God’s loving heart in both of them. They wrote me encouragement notes and made sure I was doing okay and if I needed anything. I had never experienced so much love from random strangers. It was as if they were placed there in my path so that I could get to feel that parental love that I have been deprived of on this trip. By the time I left I was calling her Misses Weaver, Mama Weaver. Along with the Weavers, the rest of the staff did such a good job working with the kids and running the camp smoothly and successfully. I had never worked at any kind of camp before, but I think it is rare to have a camp that ran a week straight with no accidents or mishaps.

Working there all week was fun and joyous, meeting new people and building relationships with campers and staff; but it was the most physically draining week of my entire summer. The leaders arrived at 8am and didn’t leave till around 4 or 5pm. It was a long day out in the heat every day, and trying to keep up with these young kids is exhausting. By Wednesday, all the staff, including myself, was so exhausted. It took a lot of will power for us to keep smiles on our faces all day long and continue to entertain all these kids. We would sometimes find ourselves complaining about the heat or a certain kid, who was being a pain, then we would see the Weavers with their huge smiles and unique craziness, and it would remind us why we were there. “Camp is for the campers” was the motto and the Weavers lead by example. Sure enough once our mentality was adjusted and got our heads back on straight, the energy to continue running camp came along with it. Sometimes when you are tired and exhausted and you feel like there is no end to something you are not enjoying doing, all you have to do is set your mind back on what is important and God will provide you with the energy. I think that is what I learned most of all from my time in Canada. My week in Canada and this whole journey has reminded me of the simple but powerful verse of Philippines 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”