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What. A. Year. 

There's a solitude that comes with finishing a contract with any seasonal employer. You can't expect someone who has not been through the same program to fully appreciate it from only an explanation of the experience. The connectivity, the challenges, the humor, and the responsibilities combine to create an other-worldly experience for those in the "bubble". That's hitting me right about now as my fall adventure at Camp Summit in Argyle, TX is finally coming to a close. A dear friend invited me to her home for thanksgiving, keeping the Summit mentality alive, but landing in St. Augustine- and more recently Tampa- has offered me the first real taste of closure. Have you been there?

As I process the year I am filled with an overwhelming joy. The people I've met and the challenges that met me have all amassed in my heart, and I have time to process them all. I'm truly blessed.

January found me in a bed, recovering from a burst appendix. I waited four days before going to the hospital and on arriving was told I should not have lived (are they allowed to tell you that? haha). I learned what it means to be dependent. I experienced on a small level the frustration my campers would feel months later because of their inability to help themselves. It gave me a fleeting glimpse of the kind of strength it takes to be a person with limited ability. To work that hard every day for as long as you live, and do it with a genuine smile on your face, is truly awe-inspiring. 

June found me in NH as an Athletics Counselor for at-risk youth. The level of attention and respect given to both the staff and the youth was nothing short of life-changing. Before the campers even set foot on the island the staff were busy unifying and being put through many of the same challenges we would be asking of the boys. So me, with my fear of heights and zero climbing experience, strapped up and took to what looked like a 70' vertical up a tree (in blinding rain, because it happened to be raining that day). The fear I felt then gave me insight to how a young man would later feel as he stepped off that ladder. Even our most trying times are bridges to those who will follow. I was reminded that fears are gifts only able to be utilized when overcome. 

One of the exciting things about my time there, was not just the emphasis placed on bettering ourselves, but the application of skills we already possessed. It allowed me to see, practically, the positive change I can make in my community with gifts I never before saw as helpful. For example, If you arrived with a love for guitar, you are encouraged to teach a class on guitar. The same went for chess, hand drumming, or even rubix cube. The limit was only what you felt comfortable teaching and your own imagination. What a challenge. Get better, so I then have more to give...

All of these places revealed my weaknesses to me more pointedly than I'd have cared for, but in the open I am able to eradicate them. They have made me a little slower to speak, a little quicker to listen, a little more appreciative. I leave this year with more experience, love, and some of the best friends a man can ask for.

I thank God for a phenomenal year and am excited for yet another one. 

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