Over the past year I’ve been dreaming about writing a YA series that is set at summer camp. Summer camp was the best part of my life growing up, and just about anyone who knew me back then would attest to that fact. Every summer from the time I was seven till I was thirteen I went to Circle Square Ranch in Armstrong, BC for a week, and when I turned fourteen, I got to live out my dream of being on staff there for most of the summer. I kept going back for the majority of my summers until I was twenty. I made some of my best friends at that place and have so many memories from that place, I could probably write for years about it. It wasn’t all pretty, there were many many tears shed in the face of teenage drama, first loves and heartbreak, but even more amazing moments spent with campers who were meeting Jesus for the first time, or with other staff members, just hanging out and being teenagers.
I knew that going down this road and beginning to recall those times in my life would be challenging, because of everything I already mentioned, and then some. I knew it would mean pulling that big dusty computer paper box (you know the paper with the edges you had to tear off?) down off the shelf in the garage and reading through my old prayer journals and diaries. That thought made me really nervous because of some of the dark times that I went through in my teenage years. High school was really hard, for so many reasons, and I know that I’m not without some responsibility there, but it’s not something I really want to relive, ever. I’m thorough when it comes to writing though, and I know that I will need some back story for my main character (whoever she ends up being), even though the plots will take different twists and turns than my real life experiences did. So I pulled down that box and started reading last week.
My journals start in the sixth grade, just a few days before my grandma passed away. Some of my prayers are funny, “Please keep DC Talk safe as they travel around the world,” “Please help me to develop a black singing voice!” and, “Please help the Clinton’s and Michael Jackson to become Christians! Please!” Others are more serious, “Please help the families who lost friends and family in the Oklahoma bombing,” and, “Please be with __________ as they deal with their miscarriage.”
One thing my journals are chalk full of are prayers for my friends and teachers. I had lists going in the back of the books with names of friends and people I’d come across that I would pray for consistently. A cute guy who worked at one of those huge play places with the tubes you crawl through, and ball pits, etc, a kid that I saw being made fun of while at another school for a volley-ball game. My best friends who were fighting, my best friends who might have to move. My teacher who was trying to get pregnant, old friends from camp who I knew were struggling. I prayed for people over and over and over. There was even a student in one of my classes that really scared me. I had nightmares about him repeatedly, as did other girls in the class. I prayed for him too, even though I couldn’t stand to even be near him.
Today I got to the journal entry where the teacher that was trying to get pregnant, finally did, and I remember the day that she told me so well. I immediately told her I would baby-sit for free forever. Her son is now 17, I think, and she has two other kids as well.
Anyway, all of this reading and reliving the past (I’m only at 8th grade so far, I haven’t even made it to the best summer ever yet, when I finally got to work at CSR) has had me Googling my high school teachers and old camp friends all morning. I’ve sent a few emails and made a few friend requests on Facebook, and it actually feels good to remember some of this stuff. To look back and see how certain people helped shape me into who I am today, which teachers taught in the right way to get the important things through to me, the things that I use every day, and the ones who were so much more than teachers, but friends, mentors and confidants. I was blessed to go to a private Christian school in Canada (which is a MUCH different experience than attending private schools in the US), and I had really awesome teachers there.
Looking back can be painful at times, but mostly it’s just awesome to see where I was and what I was asking for, and then to see where I am now, and what I’ve received. I’m thankful for every hardship I’ve been through because the Father has been ever-present, and those teachers, those friends and circumstances are all at the foundation of who I am today.
How do you feel about looking into the past? What is your favorite childhood memory? Who was your favorite teacher and why?