Reflections on VBS Camp: Abundance

I should have known.

The preparations leading up to Vacation Bible School Camp this past weekend were intense. Family illness and a car accident dramatically altered the master plans of the dynamic duo trying to wrangle camp supplies into their clear containers, updated instructions into their proper folders, and answering the many questions that needed to be answered about our impending camp experience.

Suddenly, we were digging deep into the recesses of our energy, multi-tasking and leaning into our super-human identities. (Why did I choose a superhero themed VBS Camp, again?!)

I should have known.

People. Beautiful, generous, thoughtful people came to our rescue. Kind people who heard about all of this intensity contacted me with no prompting to offer help. Others heard the call and rose to the occasion. They built cityscapes out of boxes and construction paper. They gathered supplies for recreation games. They printed posters and researched games. They picked up supplies at stores and made sure they got out to camp.

I should have known.

We made it to camp! We danced and sang and reminded ourselves to “Do good, seek peace and go after it!” (from Psalm 34:14b). We made cards for those in our community who were sick, we made baskets of goodies and thanks for community helpers that our children chose–like those who lead Kentucky Refugee Ministries, reporters and even the post office! We melted old crayons to create hearts that each child can share with their teachers on the first day of school as a way to say thank you in the midst of busy and chaotic first days.

I should have known.

At camp, we encouraged parents whose children were struggling. We encouraged friends waiting on test results or who lost grandparents the week prior. We practiced relationship, remembering that God’s heroes have eyes to see when we are leaving a friend out and need to be more inclusive. We watched as children found their tribe—sometimes by careful placement and pairing, and other times by accident. We celebrated when children who had had difficult days pulled it together and were recognized as honor campers. We adapted when torrential downpours necessitated van shuttles back to the cabins, and we adapted again when the green van refused to open her doors to load supplies for the return trip to the church.

I should have known.

I should have known that we would have exactly what we needed, even with life curve balls thrown into the mix. I should have known that God would provide. I should have known that abundance is the narrative of the day, not scarcity. I should have known that relationship and community would carry us through. I should have known that parents and children alike would grow together in friendship and in fellowship with one another. I should have known that God would use all of this good work to teach us and transform us and grow us, as God does every year. I should have known to trust that our collective best was enough for this time and place.

It is so very easy to forget in the mundane tasks of the frenetic everyday to lean into abundance, to remember that our God is one who is present and faithful despite what life brings our way. May we be people of faith who remember, who trust a different narrative than what the world around us would have us believe to be true.

I’ve been reminded. Now, I know.

~ Renee Kenley Purtlebaugh