Camp started on June 8th for the Bankers. All three of them headed 16 miles east of Hinckley to the Midwest’s premiere Christian Boy’s camp: Camp Nathanael.
Nate was a non-com (counselor) at Camp Nathanael from 1999-2001 where he met Michelle who was a cook in 2000. They started dating after the 2001 season and got married on the dock of Camp Nathanael in 2004. The place has quite a history and special place in their hearts.
Since then Michelle has tried to work one or two weeks as a cook every summer. She only missed one year in a decade. Nate went back twice as a layman-counselor.
What were you doing?
Nate was the maintenance director for the entire camp grounds and facilities. His job consisted of general maintenance, running crews of non-coms and freshman work crews, spiritual mentor for four counselors, unclogging toilets, small construction projects, general staff decisions, watching Isaac, and pest control.
Michelle was the head cook. She worked with one other woman who was up all summer and a multitude of different women who came up for a week here and there. They tried to have at least three cooks at all times. Her work-day ran from 6am to 8pm on average. She would have to jump out of the kitchen as Isaac got hungry.
What was the best part of the summer?
Nate: Hanging out with my brother Andrew. He was a 1st year Non-com and it was awesome to see him maturing, leading, struggling and overcoming.
Michelle: I just LOVE Camp Nathanael. I couldn’t think of a better place for our son to spend the first summer of his life. I truly enjoyed watching the counselors interact and love on him. Other memories that’ll stick with me for life are watching my husband cut open a snapping turtle and changing sand diapers (yep, that stuff comes out in the exact same form it goes in).
What was the toughest part of the summer?
Nate: Not having a lot of time for prayer and reading. My expectations were not realistic for my job responsibilities. I was definitely hoping that this summer could be a spiritual retreat with a lot of silent time, meditation, reading and prayer. I hardly got a moment by myself (and I’m an introvert!). At the same time we were all trying to figure out how to raise a baby in a camp setting while performing all of our other required duties.
Michelle: I had a decent idea of how busy I would be over the summer, but it was even more intense than I had imagined. It was challenging to see my husband and son SO sporadically.
How did you see God work?
Nate: Just three weeks before camp started we didn’t even have a place to stay at camp as a family. Being a boy’s camp, family housing is in short supply. But, our Father knows what we need and sure enough, just a few days before we showed up our Board of Directors bought an RV trailer from a local tractor mechanic for $2! It was perfect for what we needed. God is so good.
The other way I got to see God work was while investing in the four non-coms that I was mentoring. We had a lot of struggles, people were pushed to their limits, trust and unity was tested and we all came out on the other side stronger and with a more solid, simple faith in the Faithful One.
Michelle: It is always ideal to have three cooks in the kitchen, but of course, camps usually push through without being ideal. I knew we were starting out the camp season with only a guarantee of two cooks all summer, and that was rough. God faithfully provided a third (and occasionally a fourth) cook for almost the entire summer. There were some last minute cancellations from ladies that I had scheduled to work for the week, but then a friend would be able to come help with the more intense days. What a blessing!