Growing Up

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Camp taught me to take an “upside down” perspective - to flip the common understanding on its head and take a “kingdom of God” perspective. I love that DeSoto continues to give this to girls.

Today, as we sang “I wanna go back” for the last time this term, the Last Year Seniors saved their verse for last. After the whole Dining Hall had celebrated the fun we have shared this week - from the Fourth of July to Glee Club - the eighteen Last Year Senior campers sang in unison:

“I wanna go back, I wanna go back to Camp DeSoto! I wanna go back to the Camp I love…”

“…where we grew from little girls
to women who take on the world!”

The Dining Hall erupted in applause - it resonated. And I suspect part of the reason it captured our hearts is that we knew the Last Year Seniors were singing about something deeper than what we usually think of when someone uses that phrase.

I am confident they were not singing about taking on the world in their own strength. Theirs was not a verse (just) about girl power. They were singing about the power of God’s love.

Campers will leave Lookout Mountain on Tuesdsay and head back into their homes, their neighborhoods, their groups of friends. They are the same people with the same insecurities as flaws they’ve always had. No magic wand was waved.

And yet.

They have been loved with God’s love. Their hearts have grown bigger and more compassionate. They have been forgiven and offered forgiveness to others. They have experienced true friendship. They have learned - through the love of their counselors and their friends - to take on the adventures and challenges that await them, the heartbreaks and the heart-bursting joys, confident in God’s love for them and in God’s love for the world.

At Camp DeSoto, we believe in girls. We want them to believe in themselves. It is our hope and prayer that they will become strong women who take on the world - not simply in their own strength, but in Jesus’s name and through the power of God’s love.

In this community, God opens our eyes to see that becoming a strong woman is even more important than the world knows, and often it is upside down.

  • Strength is using your gifts, finding your voice, and stepping into your abilities with confidence and an eagerness to serve others.

  • Strength is also admitting when you are at the end of your own strength and you need God and community.

  • Strength is being a generous with your kindness and your love and reaching out to make others feel welcomed and cared for.

  • Strength is also about receiving care and letting others love you back.

  • Strength is believing God’s promises, trusting God’s love, and placing our hope in God.

  • Strength is also expressing our heartbreak when things are not as they’re meant to be, recognizing hatred for what it is, and asking questions when we just don’t understand.

And this is what I mean about an upside down, kingdom of God perspective. The “take on the world” that campers sang about is flipped on its head. I don’t think a single one of them plans to conquer the world or take it on in an us vs. them bout. I think they are ready to receive, willing to step into what’s next, eager to share out of what they have been given. Jubilate Deo!

As we wrap up this term, we pray that campers will “walk down this mountain with their hearts held high.”

We pray that they have been strengthened by friendship and failure, questions and courage, simplicity, adventure, and love.

And we pray that the love God has lavished on them here will continue to make them strong and bold in Christ’s name.

Camp DeSoto girls are ready to take on the world - with justice, compassion, and love.

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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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