Seasons as a Camper, Chaperone & now Staffer

When it comes to Crossroads Summer Camp there are pretty much three main roles you can take: camper, chaperone, and counselor. Well friends, I’ve done them all! For every role I’ve had here at camp I’ve been in a different season of life and the Lord has taught me different things. I’m grateful to have this unique perspective on camp and even more grateful for the way the Lord has moved in my life.

So, let’s start at the very beginning: my very first year at Crossroads. I was in the 7th grade and in an interesting time of life. My grandfather had passed away just 8 months earlier and I was just coming to terms with the fact that I had lost my best friend. However, I was ready to let the Lord move in me. I was excited, no, ecstatic to be a camper. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I would not be returning from camp as the same person. Boy, was I right. The Lord broke down all barriers and opened my heart. During a morning workshop that first year, Sharie spoke about how The Lord woos you and he wants to win your heart. This spoke to me. At camp, I realized how much the Lord loved me, how much he cared, and that although I lost my best friend He too was my best friend and he’d never leave me. This truth was the theme of what I learned every year I was a camper. I felt Christ’s love through my new friends, my youth group, from my chaperons, from camp staff, from worship, from all around.  God’s love is so immense and as a camper this rang true every year.

Unfortunately, you can’t be a camper forever. This was something I was not okay with. So what do you do when you still want to come to camp, but can’t be a camper? You chaperone! In all seriousness, though, I was worried that being such a young chaperone that the campers from my youth group wouldn’t respect me or look to me for any advice or friendship. The Lord quickly proved that to be a lie. I led church group time for the girls and I shared with them what was so impactful to me as a camper. I shared with them how much the Lord loved them despite their past, present, or future pitfalls. I shared with them how the Lord’s love had been so fruitful in my life. After I shared I opened the floor for the girls to share what Christ had done for them and boy did they ever. They opened their hearts to me and extended me an invitation to let me love on them the way that Jesus had so graciously poured his love on me in my life. He reassured me in this moment that I can lead and lead well as long as I walk alongside Him and let Him love through me. God’s love is transforming and as a chaperone this rang true every year.

After my second year of chaperoning, one of the camp counselors that had known me from all my years at camp approached me and asked me why I hadn’t applied to be on staff yet. She told me that she believed I’d do a great a job and encouraged me to apply. I did and y’all I’m on staff! I say that with the utmost joy and elation. Seriously, I’m literally grinning ear to ear writing this because at this moment in time I’ve only been on staff for exactly a week. You may be thinking Jayla, what could you have learned in one week. SO MUCH! The Lord has blessed me with a such a loving community of Jesus loving staff who have literally welcomed me with open arms. He’s overwhelmed me with a sense of peace and vulnerability and I can feel Him loving me in every moment. I’ve learned that the Lord knows I’m smart, talented, beautiful, and above all I am His. God’s love is all consuming and it has consumed me. God’s love is everything and I know this will ring true for the rest of my life.  

About the Author: Jayla is a senior at Virginia Tech where she is studying to become an elementary school teacher.

This is Jayla’s first year on Crossroads Summer Camp staff. She has a passion for creativity and loves all things art. In her free time she likes to watercolor, paint, draw, and journal, do graphic design, and dance with her friends. Jayla also loves to tell stories. Follow her story @jaylamaejones.