One of our Ponderosa summer counselors, Hannah Barbarskis, posted this to her personal blog. We are re-posting it with permission. In it she shares what God taught her this summer. Enjoy!
It’s crazy to me that I just had my last week counseling for the summer. Ponderosa has truly become a second home to me. (more like 3rd or 4th home, ha)
I love it.
I love the camp, I love the people, I love the campers, I love the smell of the pines, waking up early to the morning mists, feeling the afternoon heat, I love Santa Cruz, and most significantly, this place has made my love for God grow incredibly. I can’t even express to you fully how much being a counselor has stretched me and caused me to grow.
Two main things I’ve learned:
1. How to truly love people… by loving God.
At camp I am given a group of girls that are mine for a week. Obviously, I never knew any of them before that week. My job is to love them, be Jesus to them. When a person is given a group of girls with different personalities, passions, and views (along with maturity levels) it’s easy to look at the group and think to oneself, “Well, these girls aren’t my type of people so I don’t need to hang out or love on them that much,” but as a camp counselor it is my job to love themfully, no matter what they are like or who they are. I’ve discovered that the only way I can do this and have the patience and a heart full for each and every one of them is by learning to love God more. By loving God more, I am able be filled with His pure love, which in turn causes me to have a huge heart for my girls and other campers. I’m amazed at the moments where I look at a camper that I usually would think, “Why the heck would I want to be around this person,” but I’ll be thinking to myself, “Wow, I LOVE this girl. I want to love on this girl”.
2. How to truly trust God for strength and taking care of my issues and struggles.
Camp is not a place where I’ve gotten a lot of alone time, if that at all. My thoughts are consumed with those around me. Don’t get me wrong, being a selfish human being, I definitely thought about myself a lot, but at camp I have other people to worry about too. As each week went by my physical energy decreased and my issues started coming out. It was hard for me to just fully give it all up to God for strength. Not just strength to counsel with energy and focus, but strength to deal with my issues and struggles. At camp, whatever weakness or problem a person has comes out. In an environment of ministry, where people are serving, it’s hard to hide those issues and not deal with them. I learned though, that God is so incredibly faithful to give me that strength and endurance I needed both physically and emotionally.
I feel so rewarded to have been a camp counselor at Ponderosa Lodge. All summer, I was blessed with support from my fellow staff (family). The community here truly feels like heaven! I felt so blessed that every day, whether I wanted it or not, Jesus was smack dab in my face.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!Try me and know my thoughts!And see if there be any grievous way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting!