We are almost to the finish line! What a summer it has truly been for me here in Baltimore and with The Center. I am grateful to have the chance to spend some extended time with our partners, a few I met briefly when I first arrived, but had yet gotten the chance to really deepen our connection. Running a summer camp for a week or multiple weeks really throws people together in a unique way. It is almost like being on a deserted island and the only way to survive is to bond together and work through the challenges that arise. Things definitely get messy and risky from day to day, but because at The Center we believe the definition of messy and risky is to be flexible, this week of camp had all of us stretching in unexpected ways.
The Rosemont Community Interfaith Coalition is an example of when mission calls for flexibility. It is a coalition of about 5 churches who have come together on the westside of Baltimore to provide 4 weeks of camp to kids in the surrounding community. This year with the help of Mr. Rob as the camp coordinator, we hosted up to 50 campers ranging in age from 4 (pre-k) to 11 (6th grade). There were also a team of young workers from the Youth Works Program that ranged in age from 14-18; and rising seniors from Loyola Blakefield, a high school located in Towson, that assisted with week 3 out of 4 of the RCIC Camp. The camp was run out of St. Edwards Catholic Church’s gym and on occasion we would walk the campers to Hope Community Church for afternoon programming and/or dismissal.
You can already tell with so many people and locations there are a lot of moving parts to this camp. For the introvert in me, this was overwhelming at times. To have upwards of 70 people in a gym (which would happen during the overlap of youth workers around lunch) in organized chaos took a lot out of me each day. It was hard to separate some of the kids from their siblings so that tables could be divided out by grade. Friends wanted to sit with friends and particular youth works workers, so at times there were more people than a table could manage etc. All the chaos of camp was isolated into this one area and the kids loved it. Of course there were moments when it was a little harder to regain quiet and attention from the campers, but when it happened, that’s when you could see how much the campers connected and bonded to volunteers and workers. You could see conversations and smiles and feel the energy rise (in a positive way). Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church was the lead for week 3 of camp, and the kids had an outing to an old plantation located in Carroll Park that has one of the oldest orchards still producing fruit in the city.
This week at Rosemont was an experience in pushing through. Pushing through the heat, the tiredness of working 6 weeks at different locations around the city. It pushed my limits in ways that have not been pushed since I completed an internship in Yellowstone National Park four years ago. We all need a good push once in a while. I learned that the key to making it through was found in the relationships built prior to and in the midst of camp. Together we were able to push through another week of camp!