Empty Pockets

Empty Pockets

It’s a grey and cool fall day here and maybe the first day that hints at the changing of seasons after an unseasonable but much appreciated September. The transition from the steady stream of summer to the sporadic work of fall was a welcome one this year. I am deeply proud of the work our summer staff put in and the emails and messages from parents reflect the power of the camp experience.

I am lucky to love what I do and to feel passionate about Camp Valaqua and this comes out, literally, in the laundry because when I wash my pants, I find garbage in the pockets. 

It is a bizarre but fairly accurate indicator of my professional health to find bits of plastic, wrappers, hair elastics, and pieces of tinfoil in the pockets of my jeans. These bits of trash fall from car doors or drop from pockets or backpacks or otherwise find their way into our camp environment. As I walk around camp, I pick up these pieces of debris and put them in my pocket, intending to deposit them in the garbage the next time I walk past one. I don’t always remember and so I often find pockets full of garbage on laundry day or sometimes find clean garbage in the pockets of clean jeans. This is a good sign.

But sometimes my pockets come out empty, the only evidence of having been worn will be coffee dripped into a careless lap or mud on the hems from the short walk to and from my office at the lodge. At these times I note that the absence of detritus and wonder what I was thinking as I walked or where my eyes were cast as to not notice the bits of out of place colour on our camp’s grounds. This is an indication of distraction or distance or sometimes even a feeling of disconnect from the passion I carry for work that I do. Empty pockets are a sign of distraction and discontent.

I am in the stage of empty pockets. Summer 2022 was a great season at Valaqua, but not an easy one for me personally. The summer held a long list of challenges in the behind-the-scenes department from a flooded basement to vehicle insurance challenges to staffing struggles. I have learned from long experience to be patient with myself after the summer season and have gotten better at extending grace to myself as I recharge and rediscover my enthusiasm for a job I love, but the summer was tough. 

The work of fall at camp involves hosting churches and school groups. It always brings me joy to watch many of our conference churches gather here to celebrate this place and it was so good to say hi to many of you over these last weeks. Seeing the joy and ownership of kids returning to show people around their camp fills my heart in powerful ways. Yesterday my little family took a walk to collect rose hips and upon returning home I found my pockets were full.