Carol Wild, former Ministry Intern at Pilgrim Pines. Carol currently resides in Warren RI, with her husband Ric and attends our Covenant Church in Riverside, RI.
In the spring of 2008 I had been out of college for a year and I was pretty unsure of what I was doing or what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I needed space to think, space to grow in my relationship with God, and space to know myself better. I had grown up going to camp every summer at Squanto, and then worked in the kitchen and as a counselor while I was in college. Camp was a refuge for me; a place where I could breathe deeply, and a place where I could easily feel God's presence.
I was offered the job of Ministry Intern at the Pines, and decided that a year at camp would do my soul good. I moved in at the end of August, 2008, and was soon in the busy season of Fall retreats, helping with programs, setting up tables and chairs in the dining room, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, and making beds every weekend. Groups of people would come and go, and when I wasn't in the office or helping guest groups, I would have time on my own to wander around camp, go for walks and runs around the lake, sit on a bench and pray, and take in the beauty of the place.
I entered a new season of life and a new rhythm. I lived alone for the first time. I spent much of my time in solitude, which was also new to me. Looking back on that year, I think about how being an intern shaped me, how it helped me to be me. When I think about that year I see significant building blocks that were put into place, leading to the person I am today, eight years later. During that year I learned how to be alone, how to be OK with just me and my thoughts, and how to rely on God. I went from being extremely uncomfortable, to somewhat comfortable and better yet, affirmed, in doing public speaking. I was asked to preach, which led me to wonder if that's something that I could possibly ever do. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone in speaking in front of large groups, praying aloud in front of groups, and going out of my way to engage with guests I did not know.
I always say that year was one of the healthiest years of my life: spiritually, mentally, and physically. Spiritually, I was able to grow in my faith in a way that I never had. I learned so much and was challenged in my faith by many incredible speakers at retreats and family camp, by the other staff at the Pines, and by a group of youth leaders and pastors I met with regularly. I also felt called that year to apply to seminary, which was something I had never thought of doing. I enrolled at North Park Theological Seminary the following Fall. Mentally: it's almost hard to put into words what being at camp does for one's mental health. Resting into the peace of the place, breathing deeply, being alone - all of it was so good for me, and I was really able to grow into myself in a new way. Physically, I pushed myself in new ways by taking up running. I hated it at first, but kept pushing myself, which led to me running the longest distance I ever had, which in turn led me to sign up for my first half marathon.
I'm finding myself becoming nostalgic writing this, because that year of my internship meant, and still means, so much to me. It's difficult to put into words how important the year was and how it pushed me. Many interns over many years have done what I have done, and I'm sure it's meant something different to each one of us. For me, it helped me find my way in a world of uncertainty after graduating college. It gave me the time, the space, the solitude, and the support and affirmation of so many people. The year gave me a place where I could find God just a little bit easier, away from a world of distractions and busyness. It pushed me, it stretched me, and it grew me. And I will always be grateful.