On the Sunday before a summer camp begins Scruffy can be found scowling into his computer trying to make cabin assignments. Sometimes he hands the girl cabins over to me. And while he sits hunched over his screen shuffling campers around on a spreadsheet, I am on the floor with scrap paper and a pen drawing arrows between kids that requested each other as cabin buddies and drawing frowny faces next to girls who requested not to be together. And oh the horror of that moment when we realize that Suzie requested Samantha who requested Brook who requested Audry who’s mother informed us that she cannot be within 20 feet of Brook or the kind of apocalyptic event will occur that makes the great Chicago fire and the San Francisco earthquake look like practice drills.
All this to say that whoever does cabin assignments tries there absolute best to get it just right. However, I remember this one cabin in a summer long past that seemed completely wrong in every way imaginable.
On that Monday afternoon three campers strutted through the doorway fresh from the big city of Seattle. (Ok, I know that in the grander scope of things Seattle isn’t all that spectacular, but to a group of nervous counselors from the woods and orchards of Eastern Washington, Seattle was huge) It was the 90’s and so to prove to the world that they were indeed of the city, these boys had baggy clothes and wore stocking hats in July and emanated an irrepressible coolness that none of us could deny.
And somehow they ended up in Nature Boy’s cabin.
Nature Boy was our neighbor across the meadow. He was smart and tall and handsome, but about the closest thing to a Puritan that I had ever met. He had never been to public school, was a classical pianist, and only endured the syncopated rhythms of camp worship because he felt God’s call to serve more strongly than his concerns for our musical preferences.
It was absolutely the worst match that could have been made.
And then on that first night after chapel, those three city boys sauntered in for cabin discussion. Nature Boy sat them all down, looked them in the eye, and informed them: “You are all going to Hell.”
They gasped in horror. “Why?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you later. Let’s go play night games.” Nature Boy brushed off their protests and got the cabin into their camos before rushing them out the door to play.
Needless to say, this was not the approach to sharing the gospel that we had all learned in Staff Training.
The boys hounded him all week. “Why are we going to Hell? You’ve got to tell us!” When he finally did share the gospel it was clear why they had been so desperate to know. They had no idea who they belonged to. No allegiance to the One who would welcome all His own at the end of their lives. And so they pledged themselves to Him, all three of them. One of those boys even returned to camp a few years later and became the beloved counselor called Doughboy.
And Boo Boo, what did she learn? I learned once again that the wisdom of God seems like foolishness to man. And you know what? I’m ok with that.
I Corinthians 1:25–“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”