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Girls Camp

Today my thoughts are lingering in the past. I am reminded of a time when my oldest daughter went to Girls Camp with our church youth group. She came back full of stories and excited to share her experiences. I recall being very touched and inspired by one of her experiences. I recall my daughter telling me about the long hike up the mountain to her camp site, and how difficult the experience was on a number of levels. Just to give you an idea of what it was like, imagine a group of about 20 young women aged 15 – 17. They were of varying degrees of height, weight and health, and they all had to walk the same mountain path.

My daughter explained that each girl was responsible for carrying their own food, sleeping bag, and tent. They were told they could bring a few select items that were important to them, but not necessary to survival. Before they left on the trek, their camp counselors checked the contents of their bags. They eliminated unnecessary items and weighed and reweighed each bag. They didn’t want anyone to carry more weight than was healthy. They wanted everyone to be able to make it up the mountain and to camp without too great of a burden.

My daughter told me that the beginning of the hike went pretty well. Everyone was excited and fresh. But as the journey up the mountain progressed, there were individuals who began to tire. The stronger and more physically fit girls led the group and effortlessly traveled forward. The tired and less active girls struggled in the back to keep up. The faster girls were forced to slow down. They could only travel as far as the slowest could make it. The group had to remain together for the safety of everyone.

I can imagine that this experience would be very frustrating to those girls that were more prepared and capable. I can imagine that they might have felt bitterness towards the girls that slowed the entire group down. I know my daughter expressed her own frustration. The counselors, being the wise women that they are, used this challenge to demonstrate an important life lesson. They asked the stronger faster girls if they could relieve some of the burden that the slower girls were struggling with. They asked if anyone might volunteer to carry some of the items in the slower girl’s packs and relieve them of the weight that was tiring them and dragging them down.

Of course we can focus on the fact that this was not quite fair to the fittest, but then we would miss the point.

There are often times in life when we have the opportunity to reach out to one another. There is value in helping and supporting our loved ones as they struggle to reach their goals.

We don’t have to do this all the time, and I certainly don’t support anyone taking on more than they are able, but maybe consider for a moment what we might do to ease the burden of our loved ones as they struggle up life’s mountains? What small task might we carry for them?

Can I do the grocery shopping? Can I clean the dishes? Might I do some laundry, or some gardening, or babysitting? Is there a task that might help ease the stress of a loved one for a moment? Can I just spend a bit of time visiting? This was a lesson in community and teamwork. My daughter carries it to this day, as do I.

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