During spring break, some of our Beth students, along with students from surrounding Chattanooga schools, went to Camp Lookout for a week. Amazing camp counselors went with them to mentor and guide them through every exciting adventure. One of the counselors was our Beth intern, Caleb. He helped lead a group of high school boys and one middle school boy. Caleb’s favorite activities with his group were caving and hiking.
Most of the boys had never experienced this!
While caving, Caleb watched his campers drop down into a dark hole with their flashlights, crawl between small spaces, and face their fears. One student in particular stood out for his willingness to try new things. “Dee was always first to volunteer for any activity,” Caleb said. “He was the shortest and smallest kid, but he wasn’t afraid to try anything.”
I wasn't that different from them when I was in high school.
During the hike, Caleb noticed that the kids started to truly see the beauty of nature. “When we made it to the waterfall, everyone grew quiet,” he said smiling. “It was the first time seeing a waterfall for many of them. It was this moment where I saw them begin to truly bond with one another.”
Another camper that stood out to Caleb was a kid named Devonte. Caleb noticed that the older kids in his group liked to pick on the one middle schooler. Devonte was the only one who stood up for the younger kid and included him. Devonte also spoke out against violence when Caleb and another camp counselor lead a discussion about gangs. Devonte shared that family is more important to him than any stability that a gang may provide. It was clear to Caleb and the other counselor that Devonte doesn’t follow the crowd.
Caleb’s experience as a camp counselor is one he’ll never forget. “My time with these kids definitely tested my patience and grace in a lot of ways, but I learned not to sweat the little things. I wasn’t that different than them when I was in high school.” Caleb loved seeing how the campers who had tough exteriors at the beginning of the week began to soften as they took on new adventures. At night when the boys were in their cabins, he overheard them saying how much fun they had during their daily activities, and how they saw or did something new.
It’s safe to say that Caleb enjoyed his time at camp just as much as his campers did. Providing our students with new opportunities for growth and walking alongside them is what the Beth is all about, and that’s why I share this story with you.
Shari J. Watson
Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Assistant at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can.