Repetitive Rains and New Names

I’ve been at camp for two weeks, and the first group of boys have returned home. Time to tell the tale of session one…

The Arrival

Waking up on Opening Day, I was incredibly anxious. I’d just endured two emotionally draining weeks of training, and this was what it was actually all about: the kids. They were finally coming. Today.

Despite my morning anxieties, as soon as I set eyes on those first kids, the fear fell. This was what it was all about: 2 counselors and 10 boys in a cabin at camp. I learned quickly that these 12-year-olds were pretty awesome. Each and every one of them.


Our first several days of camp were just inundated with rain. Day or night, meals or activities, it wouldn’t ever stop.

One of said “activities” was a campout with about, oh, 40 seventh grade boys and 9 counselors. I’d be lying if I said this Noahic campout was a TOTAL BLAST, but there’s something oddly special and certainly memorable about lying in a muddy sleeping bag crammed beneath a giant tarp with a couple dozen other big/little dudes alike and accumulating approximately 26 minutes of sleep that night.

Needless to say, I was extremely grateful for a stellar, CLEAR day of backpacking/camping a week later. The views we had of the Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning.

Lake at camp

I Got Skillz

This summer camp allows kids to participate in six different “skills” most mornings — traditionally campy activities like archery and canoeing, along with other randomly cool stuff like chess and DJEMBE.

For all those who were wondering (I certainly was a couple weeks ago), DJEMBE involves musically striking this object:

djembe drum

It’s awesome to be standing somewhere around camp and suddenly hearing those djembe drumbeats drawing closer.

One of the skills I was assigned to help instruct is speed-stacking. Yes, that speed-stacking. Imagine me simply performing the act of speed-stacking, and then imagine me instructing kids how to do this:

It’s actually my favorite skill. Love me some speed-stacking! I also help instruct volleyball, archery, Bible study, and fitness, the most latter of which will most assuredly kill me by summer’s end. At least I’ll be more ripped as a dead person than a live one.

Talking the Talk

Now we’re heading into Struggle Sunday territory. I’m not exactly a gifted speaker, despite the awesomeness of this day last month. My biggest anxieties coming into the summer centered around leading devotions and striking up casual/serious conversations alike with the kids in my cabin.

Looking back on the last two weeks, I wouldn’t say I was horrible at either of those tasks. God definitely gave me words where only stuttering stilted thoughts resided in my throat.

But was it enough? Did my mouth ever utter anything life-changing for these innocent kids? Did anything ever “click” with them because of something I said?

Did I fail them?

I constantly second-guess myself and often doubt my worth. I desperately want to bless these kids, but I’ve been repeatedly left wondering if I’m at all capable of anything more than a sarcastic joke during a Chicken Tender Tuesday meal just to garner some laughs.

I mean, two kids in my cabin recommitted their lives to Christ and got baptized this week. Should I be even remotely upset or disappointed that I didn’t exactly take part in the process?

I want to lead a life of impact, certainly, but I want it so badly sometimes that I idolize this alluring notion of impact. “The art of losing myself” is a lyric that’s been rattling around my head all week.

Striving to remove myself from God’s perfect equation. But really hard stuff.

Quickie Memories

As this post winds down, here are some solid first session memories:

  • Riding a zip line for the first time in my life. That first second when I jumped off: horrific. That second second when I realized the harness indeed held my weight as I soared across the lake: exhilarating.
  • Encouraging one of my campers to try the climbing wall even though he was clearly antsy about it. He tried it and he rocked it — all the way to the top.
  • Engaging in a camp-wide sock war cleverly titled “The Hunger Socks.” We had tributes and everything. It was pretty tightizzle.
  • Getting slathered in oatmeal, mustard, syrup, flour, and unspeakably more in a massive food war. I’ve never felt more disgusting/delicious.
  • Being incredibly moved during two fireside ceremonies that honor these godly boys and young men. Will definitely blog more about Council Ring in recaps to come.
  • And finally, taking part in this:

My New Name

Before I close, I need to share my newly anointed camp name with y’all. It fits quite well, actually. Can I get a djembe drum roll?







Was hoping for something like Wandering Wombat to complement my blog’s main theme (the “wombat” part, clearly), but I’ll take Traveling Golden Trout. It has a solid ring to it.

One session down, three to go. We’ll see what I “fish” out in the six weeks to come.


  • Katie Terry

    One of my good friends from Watty Bap plays the djembe in the Sanctuary services! Anyways, I love hearing about how you’re camping it up. Keep up the great work – you ARE making an impact daily on those kids.

    • TMZ

      Gotta love the djembe! Thanks for the encouragement, friend. The camping it up continues…

  • Elena

    Great post, Tom. And what adventures! The zip line sounds like a good analogy for our leap of faith with God … he’ll always hold us up. Exhilarating.

    • TMZ

      Didn’t even think about that analogy as I wrote about it, but you’re so right. Perfect comparison.

  • MLYaksh

    I’m sorry I’ve been silent lately- my summer has been rather swamped. I blame your brother. 

    I love seeing what God is doing in your life right now! These camps are sometimes more benefiting to the leaders than students. I just went with my church’s students to a week long camp at Wake Forest with Student Life- by far the BEST week of my year! It was awesome to hear God speak into my life and especially to hear Him speak into my students’ lives. He even spoke through me sometimes- something I could NOT believe!

    I know He’s speaking through you too, man! 

    • TMZ

      My brother can be blamed for most things, I’ve learned. So glad to hear yall’s summer camp seemed to go great. There’s just something about camp.

  • Glad to hear you’re able to make an impact on these young dudes. Also glad to hear you’ve been stretched out of your comfort zone as you lose yourself in bringing God glory. Awesome.

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