If you've spent any time at all serving out at Camp Harlow, then you are automatically qualified to participate in the annual end-of-summer banquet. Even though Brayden helped last year at spring break, we had other plans - and frankly, I'm glad. This year, he was "official" - serving during the summer (He still has one more week to go as well...tomorrow they are out there again for the last week Camp Harlow offers) so that let him go into the evening for sure knowing that he belonged.
Brayden, Traig, and Andrew were VERY excited about participating. It was an event that would last for over four hours, full of dinner, dessert, individually themed tables - and lots of other stuff that I'm not sure what it is - because parents don't get invited, and Brayden "gets tired of talking" when it comes to giving out details.
I've asked for the camp photographer (Leah...aka Olive...who was at our house Thursday night as part of the Impact Team) to provide some additional shots of the evening. Hopefully I can add more photos to this post. Dave had asked John to come in and take some pics of the event, but when John got there, he felt like this was something the boys needed to have as their own rather than invading on their time and territory.
The "serving" hierarchy out at Harlow goes something like this:
From top to bottom:
-Dave Mertz - Camp Director
-Andrew Bullock - Ministry Coordinator
-Impact Team (about 18 people) - Including Dean of Men, Dean of Women, Program (Skits/Theme), Crafts, Gazebo (Info Desk), Worship, Elements (Activities), Video, Photography...and more other titles than I can remember - all paid positions. This is the leadership crew that lives at Harlow all summer long)
-Senior Counselors (18 and older..paid position, live at camp)
-Counselors (16 and older...not paid, live at camp)
-CIT (Counselor in Training, 15 and older...allowed to live at Harlow during service, eligible for four weeks of camp - day camps and Elementary Overnight)
-CAP (Counselor Apprentice, 13 and over - eligible to serve during day camps and unless absolutely necessary, not able to live at Harlow)
-Solid Rock Servants- middle school aged, assistants to counselors during the spring break camp only
Next year, Lord willing, Traig will be a CIT, but Brayden will not yet be old enough to join him. =( That's okay - It's just one more week of opportunity, and I would miss Brayden a whole lot if he weren't living with us for five weeks of the summer (including the high school camp he'll be attending).
I can't explain enough to you what Camp Harlow has done and means to our boys. I can speak mostly of Traig and Brayden's experience, though I understand Andrew's to be similar too. It is where they excel. It is where they become the best versions of themselves - and while very stretching and tiring, it is where they most love to be. On Thursday night, when I left the Impact Team Dinner happening at our house to pick Brayden up at football practice, I had the chance to talk to a few parents about their boys' feelings of how the first week of practice had gone. I described Brayden's feelings about the difficulty adjusting to the conditioning and one dad told me that in preparation for many new, BIG (as in 5, 11', 286 pounds) linemen joining our team, his son had stepped it up all summer to prepare for the competition to his position. I was super impressed and a bit disappointed that I couldn't give a similar story for Brayden. But, the disappointment faded as I pondered what Brayden has been doing this summer instead. While he enjoys football and wants to do well, it is really not where his ultimate passion lies. And, as a mom, were I forced to make a choice as to which I'd rather have my son love more - I'd pick Harlow again and again. (And, I'd appreciate any reminders you give back to me in the upcoming weeks as I see my son potentially try to shine on a team in which he's absolutely the "underdog").
So, it comes with the utmost of parental pride to share this next picture with you. Along with dinner and fun at the banquet comes a plethora of awards handed out to those picked by their peers to be "exceptional" in their category. Brayden was chosen by his peers to receive one of four "Senior CAPS" awards.
The award was presented to him by Zach, aka Thor, who runs "Program" on the Impact Team. Both our boys absolutely adore this guy - and if it were up to Brayden, that's the position he'd most want to have someday. Zach shared some tender sentiments about Brayden, however, we have yet to hear what they were. Still waiting for Brayden to not be "tired of talking about it". Ugh!
So, until I get more details and pictures - that about sums up the Harlow Banquet. For sure, when the boys returned, it was clear that our son was ecstatic about how the night had gone.