So many wonderful camp stories. . . many young people feeling the presence of HaShem. Engaging Jewish services with Yeshua at the center. Teens sharing experiences of hearing from Him, tearful connections to Him, deep inner healings . . .
That is what camp is all about. Yet my role is the shoulder to lean on for the camp staff, and the person to help with misunderstandings both within our ranks and with our mainstream Jewish host camp staff. So I can often be in the dark underbelly of problems which though tough for those involved have not yet in any way affected our campers’ experiences. That fact thankfully is the measure of our success. Praise the Lord.
So this year being no different than any other with interpersonal drama, I was hearing from several staff that our host camp was having problems with some of our staff. While all the teens and most of our helpers and counselors went on the off site three day canoe trip, some remained behind. And some stayed at the Perstein Center, a conference and retreat facility providing staff rooms for those not sleeping on the main campus. I was hearing stories that during the canoe trip our staff and families at Perlstein were told they couldn’t use the conference center’s pool, the fire pit, the office, that these facilities were not for “our group.” I was told that the host camp’s liaison was being difficult with our counselor filling in for his usual contact who was on the canoe trip. It wasn’t sounding very good. . . And the undertone felt to those relating these events like our host Jewish camp was maybe not so welcoming after all to our Messianic Jewish camp. Why were others’ rooms at Perlstein being cleaned and ours weren’t? . . . What was meant by the pool and fire pit not being for “your group.”
I tracked down the head of Perlstein and we talked, (I listened), only to find out that the center is not part of Camp Chi. Rather it is its own free standing conference facility that allows Camp Chi to rent its rooms for overflow staff needs, as we were doing. As for the gratuities (pool, fire pit, cleaning service), those were only available if the facility was rented to a large group, and the cost was twice what was being charged to us. There was no life guard or attendant on duty unless a large event was booked at the time. Otherwise, it’s $69/night, sleeping room only, no frills.
He spoke with me quite awhile about his frustrations and challenges, how he had a huge wedding coming in and he needed to get rooms beautiful before they arrived. I could feel how it was to walk in his shoes, and he in ours. No mal intent and he was sorry he couldn’t be more accommodating. He shared his business challenges even allowing these staff rentals when the large events are booking long weekends and the turn around time is tight. He said our whole group could use his facility next year if we wanted to (but it wouldn’t work for our group given our needs for the teens.) The point is it wasn’t the least bit personal. It was once again a misunderstanding. Until that conversation, our group had thought the conference center was part of Camp Chi!
But because of the comments at Perstein, others further construed our Camp Chi liaison as having a negative attitude toward our group, and, and, and. . . The misperceptions took on a life of their own.
Just another example of how we tend to walk around feeling there’s a large “MJ” on our foreheads, going into defensive mode so easily. And understandably given our history. I am once again encouraging you to try not to go to that mindset so easily. For as Surprise Lake’s camp director said so wisely years ago, “Conversation leads to understanding.”
Stay encouraged. Our Abba is so backing our act. This year’s camp is once again, an amazing light to the next generation, as well as to our brothers and sisters at Camp Chi, and at Perstein!