Not too long ago (ok, ok…it was almost five years ago!), I moved to Los Angeles from good ol’ Denton, Texas not really sure what to expect. I was quickly thrown into a whirlwind of activities between Teach For America, my first year teaching, expectations at the job, the meeting of new people, church hunting, and trying to heal. Needless to say, it was one crazy year. Grew a lot, learned a lot. But was so relieved when it was over!
That summer (2006), I had the opportunity to work at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Sports Camp up in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. For whatever reason, I arrived a little bit late – games were already underway and I felt that everyone was already well acquainted. I walked in right as two other girls did and remember feeling immediately intimidated. Seriously, what was I doing there?! Sure, I was 6’3’’, but I am by no means the most agile or athletic creature out there – especially compared to everyone else I encountered! I think the thought even crossed my mind to just leave before I embarrassed myself. Thankfully, the Lord calmed my heart and gave me confidence and I stuck it out. The Lord MIGHTILY used that camp, those campers, and those Huddle Leaders to begin a work of restoration. I felt loved, challenged, encouraged, edified, and uplifted. I knew life as I knew it would never quite be the same. I had found a group of friends again.
As soon as camp was over, the LA and OC FCA crew headed home and joined a Women’s Rec Basketball league. This led to us getting together every Thursday night to play basketball (I use the term ‘play’ here lightly as really we were just getting together to enjoy fellowship, Chipotle, game nights, and creating memories!). I think it was through that team, the Water Buffalos, that the Lord really solidified those friendships. We could laugh together, cry together, encourage each other, challenge each other. It was a pretty incredible dynamic. The friendships were sustained throughout the school year with little ‘FCA Reunions’ – we’d get together in Orange County, San Diego, or Santa Barbara. And it was always right back to a camp experience. It was glorious! Experiencing Jesus’ love through people is an incredible thing.
The summers would come again and it was off to Santa Barbara to work the camps. New people were added, new challenges encountered, new staff welcomed, etc. Changes were happening, but friendships were growing. The Water Buffalo continued on. More memories were created. People started dating, people got married, people graduated, people got new jobs, people moved. But I could always count on that group of girls to lift my spirits!
This weekend, I was just as blessed as I was that first year at camp. Stephanie, Bekah, and Kristen drove down to San Diego to enjoy some QT. They arrived Saturday evening after my mom and I had an eventful day and my mom greeted us all with wine and smiles! We enjoyed the first few hours on the couch catching up on each other’s lives and commenting on our story telling and summarizing abilities (or lack thereof!). My mom headed out and the four of us headed to dinner in Little Italy. We enjoyed a delicious meal with an entire dinner conversation revolving around the game ‘Highs and Lows’ Afterwards, it was back to Casa Camden to catch up on scores, play cards, let Bekah nap, enjoy a group phone conversation with Josiah, and hang out with Jen, Sam and Rachel. We headed over to Yogurtland and stayed up until 1 in the morning carrying on.
Sunday morning, we woke up and leisurely got ready. We walked down to Seaport Village where we enjoyed breakfast (more for the company than the quality of food) and then wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful day. On the walk home, Stephanie noticed a cute little café where we stopped for some coffee and conversation. An 89 year old man even approached us asking if there was a Beauty Contest that weekend and to make us aware of the fact that he was the judge and there was a FOUR WAY TIE (he was incredibly animated and interesting…) Sitting outside, we reminisced, laughed, talked, and discussed. I was and am truly blessed by these girls. Even though times have changed and not all of us work the camps anymore, the friendships are solid. There are ebbs and flows as with anything in life, but I am so grateful for the foundation to return to.
Thank you, my little FCA crew! Near and far – I am incredibly blessed by you!
To all the FCA-ers out there: please leave a comment about your favorite FCA memory!!