Each summer’s program is the result of work from so many different people.
Our year-round-staff direct the course the summer will take. Our college-aged SALT staff pour out every ounce of their energy and enthusiasm, week after week. Adult volunteers do a lot of important work preparing the grounds and caring for the campground. They serve in the nurse’s station and in the kitchen. We have some returning staff come back to add their own personal flavor to each week’s program. But, right in the middle of everything we do in summer, is our Junior Staff.
The Junior Staff have a unique place between campers and staff. Once they have finished their week of training in June, we definitely consider them staff. But, they sit right in between when they come to serve. In a cabin, they may have eight campers to watch over, but they also have an older counselor leading them almost every hour of the day. The same is true if they are serving in the kitchen, or on a day camp. Their experience is one where they are given real responsibility, but at the same time, they have a mentor alongside them each step of the way.
The work of a Junior Staff member is certainly not always glamorous. They may be called on to wash dishes for 200 people. They likely have to deal with campers who don’t want to respect them as an authority. They only get one hour off each day of their time here. They might have to do laundry for a camper who wet the bed or help a special needs camper cut up their food or go to the bathroom. But they remember that whatever they do for the least of God’s children, is done for their Savior God.
I remember what a joy it was to be a Junior Staff at Camp Phillip. We looked forward to training week more than anything else in our year. And then when we came back to volunteer, even though we were working hard, we were also building friendships with some of the best teenagers we knew. We were learning about how to use the gifts God has given us. We were given the important job of caring for others more than we care for ourselves, and we had time set aside each day for Bible study, worship, and prayer.
It’s no wonder that this program at Camp Phillip is still one of our favorites. It’s not just because we get to work with some of the most gifted and positive Christian teenagers that you’re likely to meet. It is because they are right in the middle of the work that God does through Camp Phillip. Those teenagers are growing a ton, and they are helping their campers to have a meaningful, fun and safe experience at Camp.
The Junior Staff truly grow up in Christ right before our eyes. And they are a blessing to us as we serve with them. Thanks be to God for letting us experience this joy in serving him together!