Carpe DiemA Story by Kelley Quinn
I had been going to camp since I was maybe eight or nine years old and I loved every second of it. The camp showed me how to be religious and believe in Jesus Christ by putting all my trust and love in God. For four or five years, I was happy with my religion. I was happy despite the fact that my whole family was the exact opposite of religion and more science-based. I learned to not talk of my belief and to simply let it bloom the few weeks that I went to camp but quickly cut the weed the moment my parents picked me up.
Last summer when I went to camp for three weeks instead of two, something changed. Or rather, something bloomed. A deep desire to love and be loved by Jesus Christ blossomed more intensely than ever before and this time I wanted to share my love with everyone around me. When I returned home from camp I was talking to my friend on the phone and tried to convince him to trust in God. He told me that God couldn’t exist because there are people in this world who suffer and it’s not fair to them and it’s not fair that we don’t have to suffer while they do. Upon hearing his response, I felt divided from him and upset that he wouldn’t even listen to me.
As the summer came to a close, as did my belief and trust in Christianity. I started thinking about how there is more to life than simply living to please a higher power that may or may not exist. A main point that started to change my perspective is a church across from my school that always put Christianity quotes on their board. One day I drove by and read: “If God is co-pilot, he’s in the wrong seat” and I was extremely frustrated about this because I don’t agree with that at all. This is my life and I direct what I do and what decisions I make. If God is co-pilot that is the right seat for him because then he can help guide me when I’m lost but he does not control where I go and if I am off-course: I control that.
About the same time that my faith started faltering, an interest for Buddhism began to grow. The interest may have had an impact on my view of Christianity and how bias the entire religion is. Even at camp, where Christianity is omnipresent and filled with fun, there is a secret about it that no one seems to notice. Once the haze of a controlling religion began to wear off me, I realized that no one notices this strange secret because we’re all under the false impression that we’re happy not living our own lives. I have nothing against people who are Christian, by all means, be who you are and do what you love to do but do not pretend to be in shock when people do not agree with you.
It has been about half a year since I realized that I’m not into the whole being a Christian thing anymore and the more I think about the more I realize, the less I want to go back to a camp where they tell us the mission is to teach every camper the person and character of Jesus Christ. The staff even gave the upcoming counselors questions to fill out and one question asked: What is the mission of camp? One answer that I agreed completely with stated: To influence campers to be happy in their own person and to appreciate others for their person as well. To me, this is a great mission for a summer camp filled with young minds but apparently not. Instead of teaching kids to accept themselves and to have a high self-esteem, we are teaching them how to love God. This is a perfectly acceptable mission for a religious camp and I agree we should teach children the love of God but there are other important matters at hand especially for young children who can be influenced by anyone around them.
I do not look down on people who worship someone or something. I do not find them foolish or making a huge mistake in their life. I understand because I used to believe in that faith too. I wish that I still had that faith and I wish that I had not been tricked into it, but rather have had it grow inside me naturally. Instead, these counselors and staff members trained me to want to be like them and to want to have friends and go to this camp as a counselor. They trained to be willing to do whatever in order to become a counselor. I want to be able to influence the kids in my cabin to love each other and themselves and to trust in the Lord but I’m no longer able to do this completely when my heart has seen how fake these counselors truly are. They pledge that they will put the campers before themselves, that they will refrain from any alcohol or drug abuse and they will always be “camp appropriate” at all times, whether in front of campers, parents, staff, or just other camp friends. But every time I go to camp, I see counselors who pray and cry to God but turn around and hook up with people, form cliques and exclude others, and even bring illegal products into the campsite and use them. The next morning these counselors will wake up and yell at us, the underdogs, about how we mustn’t do any of these forbidden things if we want to be counselors.
Other conflicts go into the decision making as well: we are no longer simply expected to have faith in God, but now we must be clones as well. When I go to camp, I look around at all the counselors and a shocking realization hits me: everyone looks the same. If I cannot stand out and be the way that God supposedly made me, then count me out of this service. I once met a wonderful girl, Cassidy Berns, who fit the criteria perfectly except she was a little awkward and maybe a little heavier than the average counselors. But Cassidy loved camp to the last core of her body. And yet, when she applied for a camp counselor position, she didn’t get in. A girl who loved camp more than anyone I have ever met did not get her dream job maybe because she didn’t fit in as well as other people did or because she may have been a bit on the heavier side or she didn’t wear running shorts, oversized t-shirts and chaco’s and maybe she didn’t do this or say this or bring this to camp or make this many friends. Or maybe she finally stood up and said “This is not how we are supposed to be” and she was exiled before she could spread such a thought. From the beginning of summer, and even before that, I keep asking people but they never will give me a direct answer: If God accepts all people, shouldn’t a summer camp that worships the Lord do the same?
© 2012 Kelley Quinn
Added on April 16, 2012
Last Updated on May 24, 2012
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