As all great stories begin, we were sitting at a Red Robin in Colorado Springs.
That morning I was in Kansas with Chi Rho kids (and all the grace that comes with that). Five days before that I was in Colombia visiting internally displaced communities and wrestling with the idea of peace. And after all of the plane naps and swimming pool slides and variations in climate, I’d made it to Red Robin in one piece, ready to take on my first week of CYF.
After various discussions on burgers, donuts, and all things life and luxury, we departed back to La Foret where I met the camp staff and youth leaders that would become the spiritual foundation of the week. It’s weird how one night of freezing to death and using a couch cushion as a pillow can bring you into a positive mindset for a week of camp. 48 youth and 14 staff made up the dream team of seamless transition times, easy registration, and a week of even parts laughter and tears. Through workshops on social movements, LGBTQIA+ pronoun inclusion, and B.Y.O.Q. (Bring Your Own Questions; that actually turned into a three-person sharing of life stories and a discovery of a hidden identity), I learned more than I taught, I laughed uncontrollably, and heard a sentence that has altered my existence on this planet.
When asked by airport employees, random parents at camp, or any random heartbeat that wonders what I’m doing this summer I have a hard time explaining what Peace Interning is. I give them the usual tagline about social justice, peace, and the Gospel. But, that doesn’t even scratch the surface, right? I can’t explain camp dances, waterslides, or getting matching manicures in small group with “Joaquin Who’s Bringing the Good Juice”. I also can’t seem to fit in all the crazy spiritual conversations with high school kids on the side of a mountain about the human experience— which by the way, they know quite a bit about— the tears shed on Saturday when friends part for a year, or the way a camp worship makes me want to recommit my life to Christ all over again.
I am continually thankful for the hospitality, the conversations, the nitty-gritty of set-up and take-down, and most of all, I am grateful for a swift-moving Holy Spirit. I am continually reminded of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and kindness on this journey. We are all walking along this journey with bags on our backs, knotted-up and torn heart strings, and hurried minds. All of our humanities are tied up in one another’s humanities. So, the next time someone asks me what I’m up to this summer, I will tell them that I am exploring our humanity through a lens of peace and justice, with Jesus, and with a belly full of camp food (and a couple bruises from tennis and waterslides).