I stared at the chocolate brown cambros stacked in front of me listening to the sounds of bass thumping through the walls and the clickety clack of dishes being stacked in the dish pit down at the other side of the kitchen. I felt like the naughty child sent to sit in the corner. The couch was soft beneath me and I was sure it would only be a matter of minutes before I drifted off to sleep to the cadence of voices, silverware, and musical instruments. There was a twinge of guilt everytime I thought of my comrades out in the dining hall serving up teriyaki chicken and fruit punch, as they scrapped dishes and stacked chairs, vacuumed and reset dishes in sets of 8 on 70 different tables. And here I was, curled up on a couch in the break room. Funny what a little throw up can do to get you out of work – especially when food is involved.
The next night, I had managed to wade through serving three meals and cleaning the dining room three times. It was New Years’ Eve. I’ll admit to you – I have always had a blast on New Years’. It’s never been about “a fresh start” for me – it’s about partying. I don’t party much. Not a big party person. Never have been free to drink the bubbly (although that will change in exactly 118 days). But I usually get to hang out with some lively people through the big countdown. A few years it was all the youth groups in my hometown. We’d go ice skating and bowling and lazertagging with about 400 other people. The best year so far has been the time I trekked down to college town and shared the festivities with several close friends. This year has followed suit with several years and been at camp. Before the 03-04 turnover, it was as a camper. This time I was a kitchen worker. Around 11:30, the camp director decided to vivify the party by bringing out the Spam. No decent youth group type event can go too long without the putrid smell of fake meat product. Five “lucky” individuals were chosen to chomp down the entire contents of a can of Spam – raw. Needless to say, there was puking present.
At any church camp, you can also bet on confessions and emotional vomit. There will be “fallings in love” by highschoolers and repentings of sin. It’s as though on the camp grounds, emotions are concentrated. Our church has made a point of meeting on the last night of camp to discuss “decisions” we’ve all made and the all inclusive topic of “what we’ve learned.” This year – was different. The new youth pastor simply congratulated the students on what had occurred, prayed for them, and then proceeded to pull out bottles of sparkling cider and invite us to celebrate the new year. It was nice. It felt lacking, but nice. The sense of “different ness” this year pervaded everything – from my station to my friends to my outlook on life. Not bad, just not the same. Which is what New Years’ is supposed to be about, right?