The end is no longer just near, it is here. This past week we welcomed people from all over the country as they came in to see our students graduate from the Kaléo program. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, even aunts and uncles were joined by pastors and church families as we all celebrated the incredible work done by our students over the past year.
It was a wonderful opportunity to worship one last time with our students, to recognize their great work in every area of the program, and to give some special recognition for going above and beyond what we could ever have expected.
These included five different awards each dedicated to an aspect of the Kaléo program: Tanner Kooistra, recognized for his dedication and excellence in ministry this year; Lindsey Grisnich, recognized for her perseverance and growth through the adventures, Marissa Burns, recognized for her contribution to community life here at camp; Trevor Martin, recognized for demonstrating Christ-like leadership throughout the program; and Nicole Pauls, recognized academically for having a 4.0 GPA which was the highest average out of all our students this year.
Mitch Hogeveen was also recognized this year as our valedictorian chosen because he best embodied all five aspects of the program. This honour came with the responsibility of addressing all those in attendance on behalf of our students. Mitch did a phenomenal job both in capturing the essence of this year and in spurring everyone on to future greatness.
With the final worship practice having come and gone, the last class now completed, and the last papers already having collected dust the only thing left to do was say goodbye. It was amazing to see our students' thankful hearts when given the opportunity to speak at the graduation banquet. Thanks went out to staff that cared for them, walked alongside them, and served them both diligently and sacrificially. Thanks went out to friends and families who made it possible for them to be here. Thanks also went out to the leaders who without missing a beat thanked the students in turn. We were glad to be able to express our gratitude, how proud we were of their growth this year, and how much we really grew to cherish them in these last eight months.
It's too quiet now around camp without our students here, having only one table of staff at dinner instead of a room full or smiling faces to break bread with. It's too quiet as you sit in the Fireside Lounge and can't hear the stomping of footsteps above, the soft melody of Tanner playing a song he wrote or the frustrated cry of a student trying to write a thesis statement. Thankfully whether staff or student we will never forget the incredible experiences of this past year.
Not only do we look back at what was but we look forward with anticipation and expectancy at what is still to come. In a few weeks the pitter patter of feet will be those of staff getting ready for a summer here at Camp Qwanoes. Soon after it will become the bumps and thuds of a new group of students arriving for Kaléo 2013. And while it will be somebody new playing sweet melodies in the lounge and a different student crying out about their paper we can be proud of what our students have done and even more proud about what they will accomplish in the years to come.
Our prayer is that you all continue to grow and learn, serve rather than be served, and do what is right rather than what is easy. Remember that although it looks like the end it is simply the start of a new chapter.
So this is the end, and also the beginning.