By Julia Simerly
Middle School Girls Bible Study leader and Casa Chirilagua Co-Founder
When I heard that our Casa Bible study groups were going camping over Columbus Day weekend, I was torn. I wanted to be there for the middle school girls with whom I’ve built relationships over the past year. I knew how powerful this past spring retreat was. We had deepened our relationships and I really wanted to continue down that path with these young ladies. However, camping has never been my forte.
Although many of my close friends and family love camping, I’ve never been too excited to join them. After several bad camping experiences as a child, I’ve intentionally avoided camping as an adult.
So despite the fact that it rained all day Saturday, poured through the night, was windy and cold (but sunny) on Sunday, I felt pleasantly surprised when we all had a great time! I was so impressed by the positive attitude of the kids that attended the trip—particularly my middle school girls. When it rained, our group made a slip n’ slide that entertained everyone for hours. Students completely embraced the wet weather with fun and laughter. Everyone pitched in to prepare food, cook, cleanup, and take care of our campsite. Some students also helped with laundry so everyone could have clean, dry clothes on Sunday.
Most inspiring of all was watching the girls step up to serve others. One 9th grade girl in particular shared a tent with two middle school girls. She tucked them into their sleeping bags at night, prayed with them, and told them that if they got scared they could wake her up for support. She also said that if they needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night they could wake her up to help guide them through the dark campground. Indeed, she did wake up to help those two girls to the bathrooms in that dark night.
I came to support my girls, and ended up learning so much from them. The adverse conditions were merely a catalyst for building stronger relationships. My camping experiences are redeemed and I am blessed to see how our young ladies are becoming amazing, compassionate leaders.