Our daughter is working at camp this summer, taking a team of leaders with her in a camp van and traveling to a small town, bringing a camp experience to children who cannot attend the full site for the week. This is such a great job for her, because she was a counselor on site last year, learning the ropes and songs and traditions, and this year she is sharing it with others. Yesterday my girl called me and filled me in on how the week is going.
“I’ve got a group of twelve kids ranging from 4th to 6th grade, and they started out SASSY. One boy in particular is very intelligent and creative, and he noticed that beyond the churchyard is a hedge, with a tree line and then a deep forest beyond that. He asked if we could go into the forest earlier this week. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I said yes and Mom, we found a whole different world in that forest! Over the last several days we have spent so much time as a group there, the kids work hard to build a community with jobs for each person, they’ve even created their own language! We do all the things that we need to do at the church, with the promise to go into ‘The Outback’ and they are so motivated to listen and obey!”
I asked my girl the typical Mom questions; is it safe? No Mom, it really isn’t. Has anyone gotten hurt? Not so far! Why are they letting you do this? It’s up to me, Mom. I’m in charge. Why do you think the kids love this so much? She didn’t realize it, but her answer brought a stream of tears down my face as I listened. She answered,”I think it’s because it’s not safe. They feel like they are doing something important and they appreciate the fact that I am listening to them and letting them have an adventure. They know that the few rules we have are there for their safety, and I will listen to them if they don’t agree with one, and if they can think of a better way, we do that. Every kid has told me they want to go another week, or said that they don’t want to go home at the end of the day!”
My daughter was reminding me of what it is that we all want in life: a dangerous adventure with someone like-minded, the feeling that what we are doing matters, respect from those who make the rules, and the ability to have a say in those rules that govern them. Our young adult children are on the cusp of this very thing, choosing danger over safety and living a life that makes a difference. Sometimes their parents need to be reminded of the importance of giving them permission to venture out into the woods. I’m tempted to drive the three hours to that forest in the backyard of a church somewhere, and join in the adventure!