Right now life is consumed with newly sharpened pencils, Common Core Standards, classic novels, and projects I have put off for months. As the Fall starts to gain momentum and my calendar gets full, I can’t help but let my mind drift back to a few weeks ago when I was running around in Nike Tempos, covered in food at all hours of the day feeding 800 people.
I’ve been told that working in the K-2 kitchen is one of the hardest jobs at kamp. I get looks of doubt when staff ask me if I chose to be back there all summer and confused looks when I respond with that it was definitely my choice. From conversations with my girls, I get that it is hard. It is long hours, tensions can run high, the work load is heavy, and typically we are short-handed. There are days it feels like the tasks will never end. Honestly, those are the things that make the job so beautiful.
You begin to learn selflessness in a tangible way, you learn how to work with every personality. You learn how to deal with conflict and to laugh at the confusion. The girls you work with become ‘your people’ because in a span of 20 minutes you probably have experienced every emotion with them. You become family. You work hard and play hard. The bonds you create in the kitchen last a lifetime. There are real conversations and heart changes that happen while chopping lettuce or cutting raw chicken. If Jesus worked at Kamp, I am pretty sure He would be in the kitchen serving behind the scenes.
To look back over the summer I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to be back in Lampe. I never expected to be 28 and still working at Kamp. There were moments this summer I struggled with that but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change it. By no means was the easiest summer I have ever had (sanctification is never easy), but I will say it was my favorite summer I have ever had in my 10 years at Kamp. The Lord showed me areas I am weak in and areas I am strong in, He grew me in areas I never expected, and He revealed truths about His character to me. He gave me girls that pushed me to the Cross daily. I could not have handpicked a better staff this summer. We laughed until we cried, and some days we cried until we laughed. Their hearts were teachable, they strived for excellence, they loved big. We had some adventures outside the kitchen, and dove into God’s Word together. We held each other to a higher standard and challenged each other to strive for more.
Working in a kamp kitchen may not change your life (although it has mine), but it will change your perspective. Food matters, feeding the kampers may not seem like eternal work. But here is the truth; being a cook (or kitchie) at Kamp allows the Gospel to be shared and that is eternal work and the only work that matters. You get to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Food is one of the richest subjects in the world, it reminds of our humanity and what we need to keeps us going. The heart of hospitality is creating a safe zone for people to be seen and heard, and when it is meal time at Kamp, the day is paused for nourishment and refreshment. Hunger brings people to the table and their physical need is filled That is the heart of the kitchen, and why I am so passionate about it. It forever will be one of my favorite jobs.
What makes me feel most alive and connected to the Lord is being able to create opportunities for people to be fed. For years I didn’t let that matter because it didn’t make sense to desire the behind-the-scenes-work, especially at Kamp. To be honest, I can’t imagine working at Kamp and not be in the kitchen. It is what I love, I believe it is how I am wired, it gives me life, I thrive behind the counters. I’m also fairly certain at one point this summer I threatened that If I was removed from the kitchen and placed somewhere else to serve I would run from Kamp with no plans to return. And I was jokingly informed that my contract this past summer was actually a lifetime contract…so there’s that 🙂
I can hardly put words to what working in the kitchen means to me. I have learned more about serving others, loving others, and loving myself when I am making the 525th Pot Roast of the summer. The Lord has used the kitchen to speak to me in ways I couldn’t of ever thought were possible. I want everyone to experience it and experience what the Lord can do in your heart when you are serving behind the scenes. I want people to see how unconditional love can be born in the kitchen; in the moments we misunderstand each other but make it right. Or how when the tears come and life happens on a 2-4 we gather around each other and hold one another up and keep going. Or how the community the kitchen will bring us a little closer to Christ and our hearts becomed aligned with His. Working in the kitchen allows the Gospel to be shared and hearts to be changed and in the end that is all that matters.
And just a few pictures that capture my summer adventures with some of the best staff: