The adventure is well under way at this point, as I have hit up two more TEAMeffort camps in the past week. The road trip started Sunday morning as I drove 5 and a half hours along route 10 to reach the Pensacola camp. Leaving a place of comfort is never fun, and instead of embracing change, my tendency is to run from it as quickly as possible. So, naturally, Sunday morning was filled with tears and worries for the entirety of the car ride.
However, those anxieties melted away quickly as I pulled into camp and was instantly welcomed into the Pensacola staff family. I dropped my bags off in the “interrogation room” which ended up being my designated bedroom… and got right into the swing of camp. Campers arrived a few hours after me and before I knew it, chapel was over and lights were out. If I didn’t feel included in the staff before this moment, I sure did then, because as soon as campers went to sleep, I was blindfolded and “initiated on to the staff”. AKA they drove in circles in the parking lot, blasted music, completed a Chinese fire drill while I was still blinded, and we ended up at sonic.
Due to the hour time change, my body was alive and alert at 5:45 a.m. the next day, and sadly I woke the camp director up along with myself due to a door with a squeak as loud as a firearm. Once the entire staff was up, the director, Andy, and I made some home depot runs to stock worksites and I was dropped off at a site for the remainder of the morning to get some video.
The rest of the day followed normal TEAMeffort patterns: dinner, chapel, fellowship, and lights out. Although sleep was obviously the best option, I insisted on a movie night since it was my last full night with this staff. We landed on The Strangers and my dreams (or nightmares) were filled with images of hooded figures standing outside the camp.
Tuesday morning meant another Morgan-tries-to-be-quiet-but-ends-up-waking-Andy-up fiasco as I discovered that the doors to go outside made a nice dinging sound every time they were opened, so I’m sure he was about ready for me to move on to my next destination.
I followed the same schedule as Monday and I was back to camp by one to get some work done. I finished a bit early, which gave me just enough time to climb (and fall out of) the giant trees that surround the church.
As evening rolled in, I said goodbye to my new little family and hit the road. New Orleans was the next stop on my list to I made the quick three-hour-drive to Louisiana and pulled up to the camp around 9:40 p.m., just in time to watch a camper’s magic trick where he pulled my card out of his mouth. I knew just then that I was in for a memorable week.
I got up Wednesday morning around 6 a.m. and wandered out to my car to finish unpacking. Sadly, no one told me that the church doors locked behind you so I found myself locked out of the building until close to 7 a.m. Someone finally heard my pleading knocks and I was able to have breakfast and get ready for the day.
I spent the morning hopping between two worksites, and then the afternoon editing. Chapel was that night and directly following the service, the staff and I celebrated one of the girl’s 21st birthday in the only way that us contracted staff members know how to: with sparkling lemonade. However, on this staff, we all turn down for 10:30 p.m. so as soon as lights were out, so were we.
Thursday morning was the first successful morning of the week, for I got to lead a youth group in an hour-long yoga practice. I hit up some more worksites that morning and then spent the afternoon resting. Sadly, one of the Staff members, Shelby, had an unfortunate run in with a spider so she was sent to urgent care (which took her over an hour to get to…) and finally made it back to camp that day.
Thursday night chapel is always a bit different than the rest of the nights. It is on Thursdays that campers look at their brokenness and have the opportunity to lay their lives down at the foot of the cross. Proceeding chapel, we all gathered in the field behind the church surrounded by tiki torches, sang songs, and prayed with campers. These nights always set my heart on fire, so the night ended with joy on everyone’s face.
Friday morning picked right back up on the disruptive-Morgan-gravy-train. I got up at 6 a.m. to get showered and, as I was in the stall, I noticed some very tall silhouettes passing by. It was then that I realized I wasn’t in the women’s shower room. I hid out in the stall for a half hour and was finally able to make a great escape without being caught.
The rest of the day was completely free for us, which for a TEAMeffort staff is completely unheard of. Around noon, we loaded up the cars and headed to a ferry to ride into New Orleans. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets (I wandered alone for a while thanks to a certain phoneless director….) and ended the night with a fireworks display over the Mississippi River.
This week has opened my eyes to so many things. I’ve spent the entirety of the month worrying about how this adventure would go; I worried about my lack of a family and I worried about exclusion. This week proved to me how real the TEAMeffort family is. I was embraced into each family with love and joy, and as I make my way to the next camp, I move forward with excitement.
Excitement for the views I will see, excitement for the campers I will serve alongside, and excitement for the relationships that I will continue to grow.
God is SO good.
Saying goodbye to New Orleans. Chitimacha tribe, here I come. #morgansgrandadventure (at New Orleans to Chitimacha)
Celebrating Hannah’s 21st birthday, TEAMeffort style. #sparkling #morgansgrandadventure
On the road again. #morgansgrandadventure (at Pensacola to New Orleans)
Tree climbin’ #morgansgrandadventure (at Pensacola, Florida)
There is no easy way to sum up the last two weeks.
My internship was put on hold for a short period of time as I returned back to Jacksonville to take on the role as a normal TEAMeffort staff member, meaning that I would be assigned a youth group each week and lead them on a worksite. I spent my entire summer last year serving in that role, so I assumed it would be a piece of cake.
Boy was I wrong.
These last two weeks have been some of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life, but it was through those times of trial and desperation that I saw God shining his light through each of my campers. In the past week, I grew closer to my two groups than I could have ever imagined. And not only did my relationships with my campers grow, my relationships with my staff became rooted as well.
My emotions seemed to be set to the most extreme levels the last few weeks, where I was either incredibly joyful or completely defeated. But even in the darkest times, something would happen to comfort my heart.
Week one: my old youth group came, meaning that my partner in crime and best friend, Danielle, the church intern, was chaperoning. Not only that, but I was able to work alongside my old youth leader and see my little sister. The transition from intern to staff was difficult, but their constant love softened the blow.
The following week I was assigned a group that I had last year, so reconnecting with the leaders was simple and encouraging. The kids melted my heart and God revealed himself to me through their love and actions every single day.
Spending two weeks with a staff in TEAMeffort time is equivalent to a couple years in a family. By the time I packed up my belongings and said my goodbyes this morning, my eyes filled with tears as I looked each of them in the eyes and said farewell.
But I’m thankful for those tears, because those tears mean that I have something meaningful and worth missing. Those tears reveal to me just how blessed I have been to have such a nurturing family in Jacksonville.
Today I packed up a small little car and drove 5 and a half hours to Pensacola. From here, I will be traveling between seven different camps in the next month.
Today I became a professional nomad.
I have no idea what the future holds, but looking at the past only reveals joy, love, and hope. Hope for a future that mirrors those feelings of the past.
And I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Today marks day one of my month long road trip from camp to camp. Here goes nothing. #morgansgrandadventure (at Jacksonville to Pensacola)
Beachin’ (at Jacksonville Bch)
No mercy. These water critters ain’t got nothin’ on my group. #teameffort2014
(at Teameffort Missions)
Happy heart. My sister was my camper this week and it was perfect. (at St Augustine Fl)
I couldn’t be more proud of my trench digging crew this week. What a blessing to have such hard workers on my worksite. #weddingtonumc #repost (at Teameffort Missions)
at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
• Morning sun • tie-dyed feet • coffee • spanish moss •