“But you just don’t understaaaaaaaand!” -such is the wit filled and defiant phrase that all children at some point or another say to their parents. Perhaps these placebo type comments are one of life’s ultimate ironies, because as we all know, parents were never kids, and so how could they understand? The Fresh Prince & his DJ Jazzy Jeff tried to take the pleas of the kids to the airwaves with their song “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand”, but that was 1988, and some things never change…or…do they?
Our lives, for the fresh and the fresher, are very busy these days, whether we are worrying what to wear, which crayon to use, or if we’re in trouble come April 15th. Everyone does different things to comfort himself or herself from worry: exercise, coffee, music, television, friends, the Internet, or video games. I notice that we all do this funny thing by replacing busy work with different busy work, and call it “relaxing”. Furthermore “relaxation” is often done in close proximity to your stress. The gym is through traffic, text messages can be very convenient for when you don’t want to hold an actual conversation especially with your mom or dad who are in the next room. Your Facebook page is only covering the word document your writing for your final, or you play hide and seek in your backyard where you notice the weeds your parents are probably going to make you pull the next day. I could go on and on.
What will stress a kid out is different from what will stress an adult out. There are things that parents don’t understand anymore about kids, but kids don’t understand things about their parents either. The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy never wrote a song about kids being too young to understand their parents!! However, what is out there for everyone, that you will understand as soon as you get there, if not already, is nature. Nature is timeless; it is expansive – but simple, harmonious, full of spirit, and truly awesome. And summer is a pristine chance for families to explore the wonders of nature and truly get away from all the worries that come with living. And what better activity to do out in nature than camping? This is where many great simple pleasures unfold like the drive out of the city, sleeping in tents or under the stars, in the woods or by beaches, campfires, the snacks, and simple recreational activities that accompany the great outdoors.
Something that should be understood however, is the difference between camping, and camp. Both are great in their own way, but many adults could read this and laugh I imagine, that when advertisements and family talk about camping, all of sudden there’s a whole new set of worries being created, and until you get into the camping part, no one is relaxing (expect little Johnny who has just found a banana slug to torment his sister with.) Yet, parents may very well not understand that kids don’t think about that, nor should they, and I included know the feeling of not caring for a while how much work my parents and other adults do to make family vacations happen. Isn’t that the bliss though, isn’t that part of the childhood dreams, and the teenage angst of not wanting sand on you but getting that perfect tan?
Leaving those childhood days slowly behind me, I’ve discovered there are some things that adults don’t so much not understand anymore, but have to forget. Being an adult demands being more responsible and putting into action all those life lessons, school teachings, and those other words of wisdom of our days of thunder in order to support ourselves and others, and that takes a certain mindset. This is something that separates the parents and the kids, and that’s why they need more than camping even. That’s why there is camp, and more so, summer camp!
Big Lake Youth Camp was and remains such a camp for me. My first time as a camper I was amazed that the camp got kids from all over the United States and even the world! It was incredible and unlike anything I’d ever been a part of. As a staff member for the last four summers and a winter worker for the last two, I believe it’s a still a place that can invoke the same amazement in kids today.
I look back on my times as a camper with fondness: I still have my awards and ribbons, memories of adventures – and yes, experiences that I wasn’t sure my parents would understand. Camp changed me in a lot of small little ways: I didn’t immediately start attending church all the time, I didn’t give up beef jerky, master gymnastics, join community service, or bring world peace. But there was an amazing and new sense of spirituality and growth inside of me. I met so many interesting and neat kids. I got to go on hikes, see waterfalls, and play in nature. I was exposed to the most amazing staff members who were hugely important to me; people like Peter McNabb, Arthur Ordelheide, Brandon Moor, Billy Saunders, and Pastor Monte Torkelsen. I never saw and took part in a song service like Big Lake does still today. The plays were always changing, always entertaining, and always educational. The most unexpectedly fun thing I did at camp was DUTIES! The first few days I selfishly complained that my parents were paying for me to camp, not clean, but then we started cheering for duties and our cabin camaraderie grew – and I walked away from that summer with a huge sense of accomplishment. Sure, I came back home and for a while my chores and work ethic were AMAZING, and while that motivation didn’t last forever, it was a building block and a super positive thing.
Whether parents and kids understand each other or not, I hope we can all agree that camp is a powerful place. Camp was this adventure all my own that only I could claim and see. Perhaps it was something that was already there, and Big Lake Youth Camp was the place that showed me how to find it. Don’t worry about trying to understand it – just take the plunge! Be a part of something epic and grand – come to Big Lake Youth Camp.
Brian Robak – Big Lake Staff Member