A Tribute to Teachers

This is the time of year we all envy teachers. Can I get an amen?! Those lucky duck people packing up their cubicles to enjoy two months of summer vacation. As the academic year comes to a grinding halt and schools finish their end of the year assemblies, examinations and celebrations, we all feel that little green monster of envy rear it’s ugly head.

Ah, if only I had been a teacher…

Two months of vacation just as the weather is getting nice….

If only…

*Cue the eye roll as they come just near skipping out of the school doors*

Yep. Every summer I utter the exact same sentiment, especially as I pack my bags for summer camp with a bus load of junior high students. Oh dear, that joy is waiting just around the corner for me – if I survive a week of VBS with one hundred elementary students on a summer induced, popsicle licking, outdoor playing, high! Yay for being a Children’s Pastor!

If I set aside that envy for a few moments though I also feel remarkably grateful for teachers. Reflecting on my own school days there are several memorable teachers that I recall with a array of emotions.

In an elementary school, just before the bridge of the St. Genevieve River, there was a Mr. Gould who I recall with a chuckle because my dear friend Tammy nearly drove him around the bend during my Grade 6 year.

There was also a Mrs. Young who introduced me to the Brown Bear in Grade 2 – the same Brown Bear who is now the star of my son’s favorite Eric Carle book.

Later, in Junior High, there was a Mr. House who dragged us all through Grade 9 social studies all the while carrying a brief case who’s lock required a plastic knife to stay secured. We were merciless in our fun making of that dear man.

High school brought a host of teachers I also cherish. A Mr. Young who cried as he sang to our graduating class a song he had written just for us. That jolly man was a follower of Christ and, while I detested World Geography, I adored his love of laughter both in and out of the classroom.

Mrs. Powell was quiet and gentle but brilliant and brave as a teacher of the sciences, and the Vice Principal of our school. She endeavored to help us to enjoy learning, even if we did not quite share her love for the periodic table and the infamous pi.

Mr. Fudge the math teacher – my memory of him is this:

“Mr. Fudge, show me again how it works. I don’t understand.”

“Ashley, you got the right answer.”

“But Mr. Fudge, I don’t know why.”

“Ashley, but it’s right.”

And so on… until the bell would ring and I assume he only managed to get through half of the material he had intended to teach in that 50 minutes. He would get so exasperated with me in that class, and to this day I loath math of every kind. Yet he was from the Bay, knew my folks quite well, and always managed to encourage and speak poisitively to me every chance he got.

Mr. Tulk in Enterprise Ed challenged me academically with a sarcastic streak I would come to experience more fully in my university days under the tutelage of one we affectionately call Doc.

And speaking of university, there were a few colorful characters there as well. A Dr. Faught who resembled one Indiana Jones, a Dr. Masson who was the only professor to give me a C in my entire education, and a linguistics professor, who’s name I can’t recall, just simply that I loved every moment of every fascinating lecture.

Over a decade removed from my high school graduation, I do not recall Mr. Fudge’s math equations (ironically) or any of Mrs. Powell’s chemistry formulas. In retrospect, the greatest lessons they imparted could not be scribbled on a whiteboard in varying degrees of legibility. Rather those lessons were inscribed in my character and are written all over my deeds and words every day.

Face challenges and overcome them.  

Yes, in fact, you can do it. Don’t give up.

I believe in you.

Your future is as big as you can dream.

You matter. Your life counts.

Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff that really counts. That’s the above and beyond kind of stuff that makes good teachers great teachers.  Those are the messages I pray some day down the road a passionate, gifted teacher will pour into my little son’s life. Those are the messages I endeavor to speak into every person of every age I have the privilege of encountering and walking with in a journey of faith. Our world needs that stuff loudly spoken and boldly lived.

My dear teacher friends, enjoy this summer vacation. Sit back often, simply relax and drink an ice cold lemonade; do all the things that late night correcting and stressing over falling behind students has prevented you from enjoying.   Refuel the tanks of your mind, your heart and your patience. Come September, they’ll flood the building and your senses, new bookbags just waiting to be broken in with heavy textbooks and pristine runners waiting to leave marks on a newly waxed school floor. But above and light years beyond that, their hearts, minds and futures will open to a new chapter and you will have the privilege of helping to inspire the stories that will be written on those blank pages. You. Yes, you.

So, take a lesson from your own notebook today….

Don’t give up.

You matter. Your life counts.

We believe in you.

You know that’s the good stuff– we got it from you.

Seven Ways to be The Best Camp Chaperone

It’s that time of year friends. Pull out your sleeping bag and that old suitcase. Rest up and pray for patience. We are going to camp. A glorious week of… late night tell alls, milk shake dates, soda pop chugging, minimal sleep, intense worship services, deep prayer and tough Bible teaching. It’s the kind of week where by the end you’re almost ready to pull your hair out… But some kids life gets totally shaken by the presence of God and set on a new course. Whether its three days with kids or a week with teens, it guarantees to be wearing, wild and wonderful. I love it.

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But I’ve learned in my years as a camper and as a counsellor that there’s a big difference between the chaperones who just show up and the ones who sacrificially serve the next generation for the glory of God. Those type of chaperones – by the power of the Holy Spirit – change lives. So what does it take? Here are the big seven I’ve narrowed in on.

  1. Pack snacks to share. It’s amazing how some kids will open up while you’re passing around a bag of Doritos and a pack of twizzlers. Those late night devotions and conversations are the places where you get to find out about what’s happening in a kids life and sometimes you get to speak life, hope and grace to desperate circumstances, crushed spirits and big dreams.
  2. Cheer loud. Seriously. During rec sessions or talent times, be your kids biggest fan. Cheer on your team. Clap. Shout. High five. Scream if you must. Be a positive, encouraging and fun voice that motivates kids to be involved and values their contribution to the team.                                             image
  3. Set the spiritual bar. These camps have incredible potential to impact the spiritual life of a child or young person for the rest of their lives. They are looking to their loved and respected leaders for the cue to plug in. They need to see you worship. They need to see you pray. They need to see you responding to God. They need to see you pray with students, including them. It’s how they learn to do the same. Don’t just hang out at the back as an observer. While you may feel “cool” back there, be in the middle of and a part of what God is doing. The vantage point up there, hand in hand with a kid, when God shows up is way better. Trust me.
  4. Go all in. Really. You’re going to be tired and there are going to be hard some moments – especially at three in the morning when you’ve already told them to quiet down a dozen times or that kid is crying again about missing home. But please don’t just take up space! Don’t just fill a Plan to Protect requirement. Be fully present. Put down the phone!!! Play the games. Worship. Talk to them. Swing on the swings and tell them about your embarrassing first date. Crush them at basketball and then let them tell you about the dreams God is birthing in their hearts. Listen to them. Be the godly big sister some young girl needs. Be a loving voice to the boy who’s family is breaking apart. Be Jesus for them.
  5. Don’t complain. About the late nights, the food, the camp director, the bed, the snoring of your roommate, the annoying kid that keeps following you. Don’t complain. Again, you set the bar for behaviour. If you choose to be negative, your kids will also be negative. If you look for all the awful parts, they will too.
  6. Check your pride at the door. These kids don’t need a chaperone who’s too cool. They need a down to earth, in the middle of stuff, not afraid to be silly, self sacrificing kind of chaperone. For less than a week put your own needs and pride aside so you can impact a life. image
  7. Remember yourself as a child or teenager. What were you insecure about? What were you excited by? Who had an impact on your camp life? Why? How would you have responded if these circumstances had happened to you? What did you need in a chaperone? It’s possible that if you felt that way as a teen or child, they might feel that way too. They aren’t adults and don’t process experiences the same as you or another adult may. Handle them with the same care you would have needed.

You are given an incredible privilege this summer to impact young lives for eternity. Don’t waste it! Be the best camp chaperone you can be. Give it all you have. For God’s glory!