There will always be a last time.
The last time you walk up trail to chuckwagon.
The last time you pack a shower bag.
The last time you circle up with your group.
The last time you help to lead a song at sharing time.
Even the changes we most look forward to can have twinges of sadness. It may mean saying goodbye to friends. Sometimes it means trading what feels safe and known and successful for a bigger world that looks exciting, yet leaves us feeling a twinge of vulnerability.
At camp, nothing holds a candle to the thrill of going home to stay. Boys dream of it. They work hard on solving problems so they can move toward that day. Sometimes boys get so caught up in making graduation happen they forget that camp is actually about preparing for life, not just reaching graduation. Sometimes in the middle of the road it feels as though he’ll never get there. But slowly, slowly, boys start rethinking their actions. They build a foundation of truth about who they are as a person and act out of good choices.
Graduation day, the day they never thought would get here, arrives.
It is a day of so much excitement and success. A day of of hard work paid off, of being at home with your family again.
It is also a day of walking back into a world where you were previously unsuccessful. At almost every graduation night someone chooses this song,
It should be so good. It should be so right.
Going home again to find the years that shaped my life
But shadows line the streets,
They whisper endlessly
And all I see are ghosts of my most painful memories.
Going home, going home
Lord, someday I’m going home
To a place where I know
Where the ghosts, and the fears, and the shadows disappear
Oh His angels bear us there,
Going home is a wonderful, sacred gift. It is a gift of relationships restored, of second (or 475th) chances, of walking strong into life because of the resources we’ve been given.
Going home is just like many other moments in life. It means a last time for something or with someone we love. But every last time means a corresponding first time. For every goodbye, there will be another hello. For every ending, there will be a new beginning. For every graduation, there will be a new life to learn to live well.
We never leave it all behind. Instead we walk forward into those new beginnings with the truths we’ve learned.
At graduation, a boy leaves camp physically; but he takes with him the ability to think about life and to solve problems as they arise. He takes life skills and truths he’s learned about relationships. In a sense we never completely say goodbye because camp becomes a part of who we are. Those shadows that may be lurking in our new hellos? We’ve faced shadows before and learned that darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Principles founded on the truths of Jesus will never be overcome by shadows.