Servant Heroes

We came home from last week’s conference with our heads full of new ideas and our hearts filled with inspiration.

I discovered quickly that my husband’s Iphone not only came in handy when I wanted to take pictures (I forgot my camera!), but also when you forget your notebook and pen.

I got lots of practice typing on that teeny tiny keyboard as I tried to take notes of some of the most amazing talks I’ve ever heard.

The second evening there, the keynote speaker was scheduled to speak on “volunteerism”.

Volunteers are a huge part of our – and most other – camp programs.

I was predicting a talk outlining ways of either

  • attracting volunteers,
  • training volunteers,
  • or how to thank volunteers.

I was wrong on all accounts.

Instead, he spoke firsthand of why he – personally – felt the need for volunteering.

“I call it servanthood,” Peter Mason explained.

He went on to outline very eloquently the importance of “giving back” to others without expecting anything in return.

“It goes against everything society teaches us today,” he went on to say.

“Most people ask first, ‘what’s in it for me’?”

My fingers flew over that Iphone keyboard as I tried to put down a portion of his great quote collection, and make notes on the stories he told of the blessings of giving to others through finances, service, and the most precious commodity of all  – TIME.

He talked about how he -as a (now retired) high school math teacher- took 66 groups of teenagers on hikes up Mount Albert Edward (we see it every time we ride the ferry to Campbell River), but one trip was extra special.  A movie documented it.

He warned us that we made need Kleenex.  I, however, needed a whole box!  Here it is:

(If the video doesn’t show up for you, try clicking here)

Two things about this stood out in my mind:

1.  The boy who said they were being interviewed to see if they were “unselfish” enough to make the trip.  Oh, mercy, how great is that?  A real life experience where kids worked and accomplished something – not for themselves – but solely for someone else.  I was convicted.  Am I like that?

2.  The picture of those kids simultaneously pulling the sled up the steep part of the mountain – some walking up and some walking down – just did me right in.  What a beautiful image of working together for a single, common purpose and goal.

My mind went instantly to our camp and the thousands of kids and volunteers we’ve seen come over the years we’ve been here.  I distinctly remember a teenager asking our former director this question,

“Hey, I thought this was a leadership training program.  Why are we just cleaning toilets and chopping firewood?”

The director raised one eyebrow and smiled slightly.

“The first lesson in leadership is this:  before you can lead, you must first learn how to serve.”

What a privilege it has been to me to have a group of young adults (and adults) who have come to the camp kitchen this winter with two things – willing hands and servants’ hearts.  They have blessed me and been a humbling illustration of working their heart’s out to serve others.  I am beyond grateful for them…and to the countless others who have come before them and done the same.

And my favorite line of the movie?
”If I smile any more, it just might be permanent!”

Now I think I want to go up Mount Albert Edward…

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One Comment

  1. Rita, that was such an inspiring story. What great life lessons for teens, to
    learn what they can accomplish when they pull together, for someone else.

    We’re so glad to hear you may have a new cook coming to camp. You sure
    gave it your best shot with your assistants. We’re proud of you!


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