Before I talk about Girls' Camp this year, I would like to point out that the new Bourne movie had the same affect on me as other movies mentioned in my last post. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series (even the Jeremy Renner installment) and felt like the original three Damon movies were a very apt, and complete, trilogy. The Jeremy Renner movie is a great stand-alone. Enter this movie. Bourne is without purpose, fighting as a mercenary for money. He is torn between being a true patriot and being a man without a country. He has no closure and is still filled with horrific nightmares. Two blood-soaked hours later (the fighting is just brutal), he is still in exactly the same place. That being said . . . it is Matt Damon. He is that rare actor who has the ability to make something of nothing--like a really good-looking Tom Hanks.
But enough about that. Two weeks ago I finished my second week-long stint at Girls' Camp. Part of my thoughts here come from a mini-talk I gave the Sunday after.
My scripture study for the week had me in the book of Mosiah. I have been reading the Book of Mormon very slowly this year because I have a newish set of scriptures and lots of lovely white pages and blank margins for new thoughts. I think Mosiah, and the first half of Alma, are my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon. There is much to be gleaned about society, personal conversion, service, community and trials in this portion. Every chapter seems to offer deep and applicable truths. Anyway, I was reading about the people of Zeniff and their troubles stemming from an extremely tyrannical leader (Noah) and the fall out for years after his death.
In this section, there are two different groups of people that come under hardship because of oppression from a government that, in the beginning, they had willingly pledged themselves to live under. But because they are outsiders--different culturally and religiously--they become extremely persecuted. Additionally, one of the groups has false charges laid to them of serious wrongdoing. The upshot is, that largely through no fault of their own, the people are living under a lot of stress. They pray for deliverance that is not forthcoming.
However, in both instances, it causes the people to have great humility before God as they pray for their enemies' hearts to be softened. Additionally, the scriptures tell us that God didn't deliver them right away, but instead made their backs strong so they could bear their burdens.
I think it is easy to discount teenage girls' problems as "drama." And while, yes, teenage girls do create plenty of drama, my experience at camp this time around was that many of them experience trials that are deadly serious, for which there is no immediate or easy resolution. This time at girls' camp, I really tried to hear their stories.
I met a girl who anxiously awaits her father's release from prison next year--her family has tenaciously stood by him and attested to his innocence in his white-collar crime from the beginning. It was an LDS prosecutor who relentlessly assassinated his character during the trial and is responsible for putting him in prison.
I met a girl who is one of five siblings (some half/some full) who were adopted by members of her family when her mother was in danger of losing all of them to foster care. Her parents are also her aunt and uncle. One girl, who is more like a cousin, is biologically her sister and legally her aunt.
I met a young woman who has spent most of her childhood homeless and was shown by our camp nurse how to use the shower and wash her hair. One girl in her unit was complaining relentlessly about how much she disliked camp; this sweet girl replied, "I like it here." It may be the first week in her life when she got to act like a kid . . . and know where her three meals a day were coming from.
I met a girl whose mom suffers from depression--which suffering really translates to this girl trying to act as mom to the boys in her family.
I met a girl whose mom just got a clean cancer diagnosis after months of being told that she only had weeks to live.
I met a girl whose life was deeply changed by a stillborn brother, and whose mom is pregnant with a due date very near the due date of the previous baby.
I met lots of girls seeking for testimony they aren't sure they have.
It occurred to me that Girls' Camp is a fun place for these sweet (and sometimes bitter/salty/sour) young women to put all those burdens on hold for a few days. And while camp cannot take their burdens, it is a place for them to strengthen their backs. Our mortal experience is what it is. We are each a unique combination of biology, culture, personality and opportunity. Some of this is given by God, some of it is given to us by circumstance, some of it we choose. But I am coming to see that God will always strengthen us if we ask. He may not change our circumstances, but he teaches us to change the way we view them.