My ‘Other’ Life & A Call to Encourage Your Community

For eight weeks every summer my life changes, or at least it has for the past two years. My normal routine, which I’m quite fond of, changes drastically. I go from sharing a 2B/2.5 bath townhouse with my roommate, to living in a house with up to sixteen people in it. I share a room with five other ladies and have share one bathroom with up to ten people. What I see as a normal amount of sleep gets cut in half on most nights. I feel like I move from one extreme to another for two months.

My community of people I share life 
with changes completely as well.

I am introduced to about thirty new people who I will work alongside for eight weeks. It’s intense meeting people and having to trust them and work alongside them right away. Normally those things take time. That’s something we don’t have though. Well, we do, but only eight weeks of it.

I love my summers working at camp.

I really do.

I grew up going to camp, and I have helped lead my church’s youth camp the past nine summers. I never thought I would get to do it for a living though. It can be fun at times, frustrating at others, tiring, and exciting, but overall it’s been life-changing….for the campers, the summer volunteers, and for the staff. Not everyone is cut out for it, but it fits me well.

One thing I realized this summer was how much I missed my ‘other’ life during those two months. It sounds like I lead a double life when I put it that way! But it’s almost the case: hardly ever did I talk to those people in person, on the phone, or even via text. For someone who thrives in community, this realization that my community shifts to a new group of people for two months is a short lived adjustment.

By the time I get used to it, it changes back.

Every Sunday I would briefly see some people at church before I had to leave for camp again. One particular Sunday a few weeks ago, while sitting in church, I got a text from a friend. I typically don’t have my phone out at church, but this week it happened to be sitting on the seat next to my purse. It was a one-liner that made my morning, if not my day.

“Come hug me before you leave church!!!”

The ironic thing about this was that my friend was working in kid’s ministry that morning on the other side of the building. Little did she know, I appreciated her text more than she realized. Tears started welling up as I looked down at my phone and read the text. At that point I realized how much I missed my ‘other’ community, the one I have to put on pause for eight weeks.

I realized how a simple message of asking for a hug made me feel loved, valued, and missed.

Encourage those around you this week. Let them know how much they are appreciated, or valued. It’s something I know I don’t do enough of, but I’m trying to change that. Send a text, make a call, or even write a letter or a note and mail it. Did you all realize that a stamp still sends things across the country?!

All kidding aside, be an encourager today. You never know what it will mean to the recipient.



8 comments on “My ‘Other’ Life & A Call to Encourage Your Community

  1. Thanks Olivia for a great reminder to encourage others. Good post! I am glad there are workers who like to do the kind of work you and the other staffers do for kids. AND I am glad that most of the time you enjoy your work. Keep up the good work!

  2. Sara says:

    That was so right on. It takes so little to encourage others–a smile, a hug, a text. You pointed out so well how easy it is to overlook someone who is hurting by assuming everyone is okay. We are all needy people. We just need to get over ourselves and start thinking about others. Thanks for your ‘good word’!

    • Olivia says:

      Thanks Sara. We can miss others so easily when we keep our focus on us and our lives…it’s so easy to do in our ‘me’ society.

  3. Michele Staley says:

    So, so true! We really never know what an impact we can have on each other with just a smile. Great post and thanks Olivia for the reminder.

  4. kelsie says:

    It is wonderful to hear about you and what you’re doing, Olivia!

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