I was once told, “Responsibility is the great developer of people.” I had just finished my junior year in college and was working at a camp in Northern Wisconsin. This camp was different from any camp I’ve ever worked at because their focus was not on the campers, it was on the staff. The purpose of this camp was to develop college students into leaders through camping ministry. I remember being shocked at the responsibilities I was given that summer. Not only did I think I could not handle the tasks being asked of me, (like leading wilderness trips with 11 year old kids for 3 days – no cell phones, no trails, using a map and compass, no camping stoves…) but I wondered how safe parents felt with me taking care of their children in the wilderness! A month before the campers arrived, we were in training. We went out on our first backpack trip and I remember seeing our packs resting up against a tree as the truck let us off in the middle of the woods. I bent down to put on my pack and it seemed to weigh more than I did. I could barely stand up. After trying to hike for about 15 minutes, I told our guide, “I can’t do this.” I remember his response vividly, “You can do it, and you will.” A little shocked and offended, I stood still as he removed a few items from my pack and placed them in his own. It was a very tough trip, but he was right - I could do it and I did!
It is so easy to underestimate ourselves, to give up when we still have more to give, or to admit defeat before we’ve even started. But often times when we are challenged with great responsibility, we rise to meet the challenge in ways we didn’t think possible. The weight of responsibility placed on my shoulders that summer was great. At the beginning I wasn’t sure my body could bear the load. But by the end of the summer I was taking things out of my campers packs and placing them in my own. Much was asked of me that summer, and so I grew.