February 12, 2011
The moment I set foot in the lush green grass I knew the place was alive. Maybe it was the way the rays of the July sun glistened through the creamy white clouds. It was like God’s fingers were reaching down to pick up shards of glass after a raging storm. Or maybe . . . it was the way the tranquil breeze drifted through the longleaf pines and offered relief from the suffocating heat. It might have had something to do with the majestic shades of the sun setting over the silhouettes of towering mountains that shrunk you with every glance. As amazing as the physical beauty of the place was, I’m not convinced that any of those things made summer camp as special as it was. No, in fact, I’m absolutely positive that camp was something of divine nature, enveloped in the vibration of a living God, moving spirits and changing lives.

Converse College, a rustic liberal arts school hidden in the depths of South Carolina, had rented its facilities to Centrikid, a Christian summer camp specifically targeting young people ages nine through twelve, for the summer. Hence the swarm of enthusiastic children flooding the vibrant campus from dawn’s first call until the last whispers of dusk. I’m sure that some of the campers had been drifting in the same boat as me. Hectic summer. Exhausted parents. Crazy kids. Church offers to take said kids of exhausted parent’s hands for a week. I know I fit that equation, as did many others. Take Jared, for example. Parents love their kids and all, but I’m sure they were relieved to see him, rather not see him, out of the house for a week. Don’t get me wrong, he was a cutie pie. His shaggy brown hair framed his sun kissed face, and his chocolate brown eyes captivated a ten year olds heart. Then he opened his mouth. My heart was set free, thank God. Then there were my roommates, Blair and Jade. Sisters. They constantly ate at each other’s self esteem like puppies trying to mooch off of one another’s food supply. Every slip of the tongue was a crisis. Shrieks were heard. Hair was pulled. Doors were slammed. On a more serious note, there was Katie, my bible study leader. As years have passed I remember less and less about my week at camp, but never has a day passed that Katie hasn’t crossed my mind. Everything I saw in Katie, I wished deep down I could see in myself. She had confidence to stand before men and profess her faith in Christ. Beauty that was reflected from within was displayed through benevolence and boldness. Last but not least, she quenched her thirst with the love of God. There was a unique way that she lived her faith. My finite mind could not understand why someone with her ability and passion chose to spend a summer at camp with overzealous and whiny youth. I now realize that she didn’t choose. She was chosen.

Believe it or not, a ten –year- old can have a lot of burdens. During the December of 2006, my granddad passed away, which put a lot of weight on both my family and me. My widowed grandmother was not keen on the idea of living alone, thus ensuing a tough move designed to accommodate the needs of a large fraction of my bloodline. Physically, my life was improving, but emotionally, things were falling apart. Most of my friends were melodramatic hypocrites that I wasn’t audacious enough to trust. My family was stressed by the toll of combining households. It didn’t seem like there was a place to turn, when in reality there was. It wasn’t until July Fourth 2007, at Centrikid, that this became evident, however. I remember the experience vividly. If it wasn’t for this experience, my memoir would be in vain. It was a sweltering Wednesday, which had taken me victim to the butterflies of the Holy Spirit. As I sat through the early morning pep rally listening to the speaker’s message about receiving a clean heart through Christ, my murky one pounded. As I interacted with my peers during bible study, my mind was clouded with confusion. Running through recreation, my knees were locked. By dinnertime, my churning stomach refused to keep a morsel of food down. I needed God, and I full well knew it. When the evening worship service finally began, I distinctly remember tugging on my brunette braids as I placed myself gently in one of the velvety red chairs. Before the service began, counselors passed out index cards in which campers and chaperones were to write down one request they had from God. With trembling hands and a sparkly green gel pen- my reply stays living deep inside of me. “Give me the courage, God, to get a clean heart.” Every lyric to every song we sang that night resonated with me. Every word from the speaker’s tongue was a nudge in the right direction. Every few minutes or so, I whispered silently, “Give me courage . . .” And so the invitation came. Despite the battle within me, I knew I had to make a choice. There was a fork in the road, right there in the quiet, dim, auditorium. One was wide, and led to shattered hopes. The other was narrow, and led to abundant life. One was bought by the ways of the world, the other by innocent blood shed on the cross, and the resurrection of its provider from His place in the grave. Alive. The latter path I was predestined to walk through faith in Christ, the former, I was done with. It was dead to me. The camp staff lined the stage with simple smiles and open arms. I kept my gaze fixed on Katie, the compassionate counselor, as I trembled down the aisle. After ten and a half years of anticipation, God was receiving my heart, and making it pure. Finally, I had been granted the courage so I might live again. But I now realize that nothing that happened that night was of my choosing. It was up to God. I’ll never forget how the tears fell as Katie embraced my hand and deep in my heart I realized the reason I was alive . . .

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Destinee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

This is excellently written. In the second paragraph, especially, are some gems: the whole "she was chosen" thing, and I know people who seem to shine with goodness. It's so amazing. 

Anyway, I see. I've noticed that God always answers when you pray for guidance. 
just4kicks3 said...
Apr. 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

yo kirbs, i think you know who this is:)

well i just want to say that this is a really powerful memoir, and that you are a great writer and no one can take that away from you. you have beautiful writing and you are a wonderful person.

xo, ybff,


gracegirl29 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm
What? I don't know a R.A.W?? Creeper . . . haha jk. You got a teen ink account!!! Oh my gosh that makes me smile. :) And thanks for reading, hah.
just4kicks3 replied...
Apr. 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm
yeahhhh...i know you know me kirbs:) and yeah how could i not! then i wouldnt get to read all of the crazily awesome stuff you write!
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback