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Tonight, after supper I was walking around Camp enjoying the sounds of girls’ conversations and laughter. I ran into a couple of sixteen year-old girls who had just found a turtle. “His name is Hank!” they told me. We looked him over together, marveling at the mechanics of his shell. “We’re going to put him in the lilies down by the lake.” “What a great idea! Thanks for showing me.” They walked away, and I felt deep gratitude for their sense of wonder, even at sixteen.

Then, just as night activity was about to begin, two juniors approached Phil. “We have a suprise for you!” They beamed. “Can you come outside for a second?” Phil followed them out the side door of the gym to find the rest of their cabin presenting him with a parasol they had made out of sticks and leaves and colorful duct tape. An impressive, full-size parasol! They had created a rainbow pattern on the top, and the handle was a small tree branch. A parasol of many-colors. Who wouldn’t smile at that? Phil held it over his head proudly, and the girls could not have been more pleased.

I often marvel at girls and who they will become - at the potential in each one and the life stretching out before them. Who will they be, what will they do with their “one wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver so beautifully puts it. But tonight, I marveled even more at who they already ARE, right now. I love their sense of humor and their creativity, their courage and curiosity, their energy and strength. They are whole people containing all that God has created them to be. And they are truly delightful.

Caroline Herring played a concert in the gym tonight, and I ended up sitting toward the front, near the stage. It’s not a place I had planned to sit, but from there I ended up being able to look out and see the faces of campers enjoying Caroline’s gift. She sang a song inspired by a Civil Rights group in Nashville and the girls joined in on the chorus: “One day, One day, One da-a-ay. We see through a mirror dimly; one day we shall see face to face.” And I knew that these girls and their lives are a part of that “one day” we are moving toward; that their love in the world has the power to move us all one step closer.

As Caroline sang “I Went For a Month,” a song she wrote about Camp DeSoto, I could see smiles and tears on the faces of some of the oldest girls. It wasn’t false or forced emotion - it was real love for the beauty of Caroline’s songs and the beauty of what God has done in their lives here - the freedom they feel, the peace they know, the friendships they treasure that were forged on the playfield, in parlor swings, and on the worshp rocks.

First Term is up and running - activities are in full swing, tribe competition has already kicked off, and girls’ are eagerly anticipating all that is to come. But mostly, we are here, together. We are forming community. And we are getting to know God a little bit better with each new friend we meet, each story we share, and each little girl that lets her heart be known.

What a delight it is.

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Sarah Hurt

About Sarah Hurt

Sarah Hurt is the Director of Camp DeSoto. She grew up playing in the woods of Lookout Mountain, swimming in Little River, and spending her summers as a DeSoto camper. She loves good stories, twinkle lights, her dog Riley, and Camp DeSoto girls most of all.

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