The Fourth of July is one of the best days on the Rockmont calendar.
Because the Fourth fell on a Monday this year, we celebrated on Saturday with games around camp, a skit by the directors, ice cream at the waterfront, and, of course, fireworks after dark.
As an added bonus, we had a much-needed rainfall in the late afternoon, which moved dinner inside the dining hall. The younger campers exited quickly after the meal, eager for evening activities.
Alas, the porch was still wet, and Harry, a member of the Hickory Tribe, slipped, fell, and badly scraped his knee.
The nurses determined that he might need stitches.
My fellow Camp Dad, Napo, and I are sometimes asked to take campers to the urgent care center or, after hours, the emergency room.
These visits are never appealing, but we were also worried about dealing with an 11-year-old who was injured, tired, and missing a highlight of the session — the fireworks.
We didn’t have to worry.
Harry’s parents are doctors, so he was ready for anything. He’s curious and talkative, so he asked the ER staff all sorts of questions. More than that, though, he was grateful.
“You two are so nice for taking me here!”
“Everybody’s so helpful at this hospital!”
Along with more of the same for the whole three-plus hours.
When we complimented Harry for being polite, he replied, “My parents raised me to be like that!”
When Napo saw him the next morning, he said, “Please tell Coleman hello for me!” When I ran into him, he thanked me again.
Harry didn’t need stitches after all, but his attitude would’ve been the same regardless.
Such gratitude is rare in our society, which teaches us that we are self-made and self-reliant.
We decide for ourselves who we are and what we should do; we consume what we want, when we want, without limits or obligations.
I don’t know whether Harry has faith, but I do know that he’s on the way to grasping the Christian insight that our lives aren’t our own, but are a gift from our creator.
This means we’re fundamentally dependent — on one another, on the natural world, and above all, on God.
It also means that we’re genuinely free to serve others, and we can devote ourselves to a purpose, a calling, that we discover in relationship with God.
We should therefore be grateful: for food and shelter, for sunshine and rainfall, for families at home and friends at camp, and for children like Harry who show us the way.