So I was told to get out of the office the other day. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take that.
Just so you know (and this will tie together in a minute), sunny Columbus, TX is currently at 85 degrees Farenheit, with humidity making it feel like a balmy 91. That’s at 11 am, as I write this. In the afternoons it gets even worse, up to the point where you could probably make a nice omlet on the sidewalk. Needless to say, for committed counselors who are required to teach classes in this sort of sweltery weather, sweat pours forth like curse words from a sailor’s mouth.
In contrast, my job (the one where you have to orchestrate the logistics of camp) seems to look a lot like being behind a desk with my laptop in the well-maintained A.C. In my defense, there’s always a pile of stuff for me to do: schedules to make, assignments to fill in, instructions to type, club talks to plan. And still getting my other staff up to speed on what it looks like to run the program, I honestly feel the weight of making sure things are just planned well.
So when one of our executive leadership dropped in the other day to check on things at Outback, he found me pecking at a set of instructions on how our still-green counselors were supposed to play the Thursday night game. This was just after he had played football with some of the campers in that sweltery, 100+ degree heat.
He asked me how I was doing, and then noted how he always seemed to see me inside the office.
“Yeah, I know.” I told him. “I’ve just got this stuff to plan for tonight. And I’ve got a talk coming up. There’s just a lot of stuff to do.”
He told me that there would always be stuff to do in the office. (This from a man whose career before Christian camping involved expanding sales markets for a pretty well-regarded company. He knows what it looks like to get stuff done.)
If I wasn’t careful, he warned, I would keep getting sucked into the tedious work of the computer. Maybe next week, he suggested, he and I could grab some cold Gatorades and go around handing them out to the staff.
Our conversation ended pleasantly enough (he also told me he was excited that his phone picked up the office wi-fi). And while this wasn’t a wrist-slap by any means, I wondered about his words. Wasn’t planning stuff supposed to be my main job?
The next morning, I found my plate was clear enough for me to go watch a wrestling match in the pool. One of the boys’ cabins had been talking smack to their counselor all week and their Sr. Counselor, a guy named Dubai and Conquer, decided they needed to learn that a mouth shouldn’t write a check that skills can not cash. At camp, it’s an unspoken rule that campers always win, so even as Dubai declared that he and his counselor would not get dunked within 30 minutes’ time, I knew it would be a tragic battle.
Five-ish minutes in things, did not look good for my staff, so I decided to enter the fray. Instantly, at least three sets of hands started trying to teach me the meaning of gravity. One 7th grader was blessed with my size and weight, and after tossing off my other challengers, he and I began to engage in single combat, often made more inconvenient when random 4th grade boys would lock onto my back and try to drown me like possesed chimpanzees.
We didn’t go down without a fight. But we staffers didn’t last 30 minutes either (surprise). The campers felt pretty good about that, and furthermore, we had just engaged in some rad male bonding. It’s weird, but nothing shows a boy you approve of him more than taking the time to dunk him underwater (safely).
I took some time to recuperate by getting on the lifeguard stand, and after realizing I had actually done something good outside the office with my staff, another thing was brought to my attention:
Camp was fun.
Logistics are NOT fun. I hate logistics. And next summer I plan on hitting up grad school, so I may not get another shot at camp like this.
…I need to soak it up before it’s too late.
It’s good to plan things, but it’s also good to interact with campers, to serve alongside your sweaty staff, to share the Gospel, to do high ropes, to get a freaking tan. And that’s why I needed to get out of the office: there’s a lot of moments to maximize out there. For my staff’s sake, but also, selfishly, for me.
So I rejoice. It may be hotter than heck outside, but we’re teaching kids about the kingdom. And at the end of the day, stuff will get planned; God’s gracious like that. But I get paid to go have fun with kids.
I can get out of the office for that.