Camp AJ is, in my opinion, one of the most special places in the world. It’s not fancy; we don’t have horses or zip lines. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, there is a certain “AJ magic” that infects campers and counselors alike. Camp brings out the best in everyone. The counselors are extraordinary because they exist in this rare period of time when they don’t think about themselves for weeks on end. They focus their entire being on ensuring that the campers have an amazing week, and on helping them to realize that they are beautiful people. Watching the counselors open up and perform radical feats of love is equally as moving as seeing the campers open up and see that they are lovable.
Camp is a whirlwind of personalities you must welcome and try to understand while you have the opportunity. When I think about camp, glimpses of dozens of children come to my mind… the way Sierra expertly crouched to catch a crawdad with her bare hands, Blake’s sneaky smile as he plays a trick on one of the counselors, Dalton’s triumphant dance to “Eye of the Tiger” at the talent show, the concern in Michael’s eyes when we asked him to set a frog free, and smiles and smiles and smiles. I see kids opening up, trying new things, overcoming fears, and having so much fun all the while.
All these small moments will stick with me for years, and remind me of what it is to be a kid, free from any struggles at home, free to live. They have taught me that God exists in every human being, and that every person can shine so brightly if given the chance. I’ve given camp part of myself: my energy, my enthusiasm, my love. It’s not so impressive or different from the legacy of counselors that have served with me and before me, but it’s where I learned to sing myself hoarse, soothe homesick kids, and work long, exhausting days on very little sleep. What I’ve gained from camp is priceless, which is the knowledge of God’s love that thrives in a $10-a-week, volunteer-run summer camp in Appalachian Kentucky.
Molly initially volunteered at Camp AJ in 2008, then returned in 2012. She is now a long-term volunteer in Educational and Recreational Programming our of Camp AJ. She is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community. She would love to see you at Summer Camp 2013.