Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Prize

We ended camp last week at WCS for 2014. I always count down the ninety hours of the three weeks in my head- it can get repetitive- but I miss the kids when it's over. I've seen several of my campers this week in other camps our school offers and I'm always happy when they are excited to see me. There is something about being around little children that makes you feel young even when you aren't any more.

Several years ago, we started having a Team Of The Week contest in our younger kids' sessions which are in the morning. The teams are divided usually by gender and always by age and they choose their own names, often in a category like zoo animals. (My A.M. squads this summer were the Cheetahs, the Panthers, and the Monkeys.) The morning campers range from about five to entering fourth grade and compete for WOW Points, which are awarded for winning Musical Triple Threat or Coach Says or which team mimics best in a shooting game or which group cheers the loudest. To be honest, it's easier for girls to win because they tend to be better at these things than elementary age boys. The totals are kept on a chart on the wall and are the topic of much discussion when updated. One of my campers, Catherine, mentally kept track of the score and was astonishingly accurate! Trey Austin, as did previous camp director Russell Carr, tells the kids that the members of the winning team will get a prize but never reveals what it actually is. Well, this past week, my team won and as I recall, it was a landslide. Like I said, girls have a distinct advantage when it come to WOW Points.

We always end morning camps on Friday with two traditions, Slip And Slide and Roasted Watermelon imported from Nicaragua. (The Roasted Watermelon tastes suspiciously like the regular variety in case you were wondering!) Right before we all went outside, Trey awarded the Monkeys their prize for capturing the Team Of The Week contest. The hardware? Each girl received one of the blue and gold plastic WCS commemorative basketballs shown at the top of the page, the kind cheerleaders often toss into the stands during high school games. (I was playing with my picture filter and that's why the ball is black and white- artistic license.) Other years, the prize has been a WCS basketball wrist bracelet or a WCS water bottle, nothing expensive but definitely filled with school spirit. I was intrigued with the response of one of the young ladies on my team after she had taken possession of her trophy, and I quote:
Is this all it is?  
She appeared very disappointed but I can guess why. She has been a student at WCS since kindergarten and has seen these prize basketballs constantly, perhaps even owning one herself. She wasn't ungrateful, just let down. To her, it simply was common and nothing to celebrate. I let it go- she's really a wonderful little girl.


As we went outside and were eating our watermelon, a young man saw me holding my prize- coaches get one, too- and exclaimed to no one in particular, 
"Man, I would give anything to have one of those basketballs!"

You see, this camper, who is about third grade age, doesn't go to our school and had never seen one of these balls before. I could actually detect an ache in his voice. Part of me wanted to give him the ball but that would go against what we told the kids plus I'd have to give one to every other child. Truthfully, the ball means little to me as well; I think I'll give mine to Dat in Vietnam if I can fit it into my luggage.

Funny how one man's trash is another's treasure, or at least that's what they say. I would guess the girl, who is generous, would have given her basketball to the boy if she had only known he wanted it. Abundance seems to breed indifference. I read a book this week about Christians in China desperately wanting a Bible and sometimes facing torture for their hunger. (On my first trip to China, I gave my Bible to an army officer.) In our society, we leave Bibles laying around like they have little value; after all, many American Christians probably have five or six scattered around their houses. My only dilemma is figuring out which translation to read from today or if I feel like logging onto my laptop and taking advantage of www.biblegateway.com. The Word of God is precious and powerful and in our culture, abundantly available. In other lands, the Scriptures have been smuggled in and treated as precious as jewels. Here, even in the Bible Belt, we take it for granted. This prize should never be taken for granted especially by those of us who should realize its eternal worth. Lives are on the line in this contest.


Applicable quote of the day:
Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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