11 is a good, solid number. When I was 11, I played my dream role of Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. At 11:11, you make a wish (especially last year on 11-11-11). Apollo 11 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon (Yay, ‘Merica!). After Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, the other apostles were referred to as “the Eleven.” 11 pipers will forever be piping in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” If you’re from Canada, eh, the maple leaf on your flag has 11 points. And last, but not least…
11 is the number of weeks I spent this summer living in a Teepee.
In case you can’t do the math, that’s a reeeeaaallllllyy long time.
But that’s not all. After some audacious addition yesterday, I discovered that—after nine years as a Kamper and four summers on staff—I have spent approximately 42 weeks of my life sleeping inside a Teepee.
To those of you not acquainted with Kanakuk’s K-Seven Kamp, let me clarify. Yes, these are, in fact, real, bona fide Teepees. No, they do not have air conditioning (don’t worry; they do have two large fans to move the hot air around). And yes, we actually live in them.
Now you might be asking the following question, “Steffi, why in the world would you want to live in vinyl, non-air conditioned, plastic cone for the entire summer?”
That is a great question, one that I’ve pondered on many occasions, especially during the 110+ degree heatwave. Here are some answers I came up with:
1) The evening events are awesome!
Seriously, where else can you play in 9-foot-tall unscented foam? Or watch your coworkers get pied in the face with whipped cream? (Or pie them yourself, heehee) Nowhere else can you see incredible (and hilarious) talents, including but not limited to: a girl hypnotizing a live chicken, a nine-year-old playing the banjo, angry-duck impersonations, a fourteen-year-old piano prodigy, and a random, nonsensical sock-puppet show—all in one place. #ridiculous
2) The activities are a blast!
Only at Kamp do you get paid for playing with kids (and acting like a kid)! Our pool features a 70-foot vertical water slide, a giant multi-colored blob, a curvy slide, AND a flying trapeze! More of a beach bum? Check out our lake front, complete with sailboats, kayaks, canoes, catamarans, and tubing. Prefer the high life? Try out Treetops, our high-elements ropes course, the rock-climbing and rappelling wall, and our zip line. Want to laugh so hard you cry? That’s why we built the world’s best slip and slide! At K-Seven, having fun is part of our job description.
3) The people are the best!
Some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met come from K-Seven. From Kristen, our wonderful scheduler, to Jenni, our super-duper office leader, from Cash, the Programs guy with record-setting sideburns, to Hutto, the guy who can do everything (including a mean Scottish-Australian accent!), our staff is chock full of amazing, fun people who love Jesus. Working with them is a case study in how a team (and the Body of Christ) should function. In other words, they are awesome.
But although all these reasons are valid, and I certainly love the events, activities, and the people, they mean nothing compared to why I’m actually at K-Seven:
For the Kingdom. For the Kids.
Often abbreviated to “FTK2”, this catchy, concise phrase encapsulates everything we do at K-Seven and Kanakuk. It’s our motto, our purpose, our heartbeat. We are here to reach kids with the love of Jesus Christ. All is for Him, for His Kingdom, for His glory. That’s why we have the fun activities; that’s why we create wacky evening events. That’s why our staff keeps coming back year after year after year. Because we love kids, and we want them to love Jesus. To quote the Hokey Pokey, “that’s what it’s all about.” One purpose. One goal. One heartbeat.
So here I am back in “real life,” as we at Kamp call it. The land of Teepees and heckles and Wednesday-morning coffee cake is still fresh in my memory and near to my heart. And as I continue to ponder the 11 weeks of my summer, I am drawn continually back to this question. What if?
… What if we lived every day with a singular purpose? What if we were so committed to that purpose that nothing—not rain, hail, 115-degree heat, or anything else—could stop us? What if we were so passionate about that purpose that we quit worrying about how we look, what we wear, or what people think of us? What if we cared so much about that purpose that, in comparison, nothing else mattered?
…And what if our all-consuming passion were to know Jesus and to make Him known?
I’ve seen it. I’ve tasted it. I know it’s real because this summer I had the chance to experience it. And having experienced it, I can tell you with humble confidence that it’s not only the best way to live; it’s the only way to live. Sold out for Him, with everything you are. I’m the president of imperfection, the chief of sinners; I still have so far to go. But I know this: Without Jesus, you have nothing. But with Him, you have everything. Because He is everything.
And so I ask you this question, as I ask it to myself: Do you believe that? Do you believe that Jesus is the reason for your existence? Do you believe He is all He says He is? Do you believe He’s worth everything you have and are? And if you do, then are you willing to live sold out, full-throttle, all-you’ve-got for Him and His glory every moment of every day for the rest of your life?
… 11 seconds at a time.