From Jamaica To Vermont

It’s been exactly 3 months and a day since I left Bethany Birches. I’d really like to say that the time has been flying by, but it hasn’t. I think since this past summer my life has become so fixated on looking forward to possibly serving next summer, that I’m still reliving every day as though I never left.

Apart from the fact that the faces of my fellow staff members are splattered all over my social media timelines, I realise that camp made an indelible mark on me. And no, it wasn’t the fact that there were bears rummaging through the garden I worked so hard on (ok well, one bear), or Susie-sized* rabbits hopping around Hummingbird and scaring my campers (because I refused to scream and embarrass myself), or even the fact that I had to pretend to be strolling through the Garden of Eden [to stay motivated] with every trip to every facility on the campsite because every direction was a 10-minute hike. I can’t say either that it was the rock-farming or getting stuck in the bathroom whilst waiting out a thunderstorm at 3am. But what I can say is, before Bethany Birches, I had never really found somewhere that I felt like I just ‘fit in’.

I was different in so many ways—my culture, my heritage and even the way I worship had nothing in common with Bethany Birches, and I never got a lot of the jokes either; yet, I found my place there. And despite the fact that I almost froze to death on occasion, or got trapped in almost every ‘Mission Impossible’, I can’t say I’d ever change any of my experiences. I have felt my heart literally bursting with love and acceptance of not only so many others, but even myself, and I think that has been the most rewarding thing about Bethany Birches for me. It isn’t often that one literally finds themselves by wandering off into the ‘unfamiliar’ (never do that at camp by the way)…But this summer did that for me. Coming from Jamaica to cold VT wasn’t comfortable but it helped me become more me.

RaeChelle-Faith “Artsy” Hamilton, BBC Counselor


*Susie is the director’s daughter; 1 year old this past summer