By Ben Herr |

Summer Camp Countdown: 2007 (with Wes Foley)

In the summer of 2007, a young, enthusiastic Wes Foley returned to Black Rock Retreat for his second summer on staff. The previous year, he was a Junior Counselor. This year, he would be Senior Counselor of Paradise.

The theme of 2007, per its stylized t-shirt, was “2:20.” Specifically, Galatians 2:20 …

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

This verse, with its strong emphasis on our identity in Christ, had a special relevance for the youngest brother in the Foley family. Many of you may know Wes as the younger brother of the current Summer Camp Director, Josh Foley. So, it is with pleasure that I present to you our interview with Wes Foley regarding his experiences in the summer of 2007.

Patrick: Why did you return after being a junior counselor the first year?

Wes: It wasn’t even a choice. I knew this was something I wanted. It’s a beloved place in my heart. So long as Dave [Bouffard] wanted me, I was going to be back. I felt like I had many more years in me – and I was right about that. I was a little surprised to be a senior counselor in my second year, but I wasn’t going to say no!

Patrick: What do you remember from training week [the first week] that year?

Wes: I was absolutely giddy, probably close to annoying. The me of today would have been annoyed with the me of 2007. But I just remember being so excited.

Patrick: What’s it like working on staff with your older brother?

Wes: The first year [2006] was pretty cool. He was well-liked, and I liked being around him. In 2007, we were both senior counselors. I was comparing myself to him a lot.

On an internal level, that was a tumultuous summer. There were also some tough weeks with campers. But I remember thinking like, “I don’t know who I am!” People who know the whole Eric Erickson thing, I was going through an identity confusion phase, and I felt like I was living in Josh’s shadow.

Patrick: And the theme that summer, Galatians 2:20. How did that come into the picture for you personally?

Wes: “I’ve been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live. But Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” This verse was crucial to me.

The person I was, he was no longer there. I now had my identity in Christ. It wasn’t until mid-camp break [early July] that I realized just how applicable the theme verse was to me. My identity needed to be rooted in Christ, otherwise I’m just being tossed around in the wind.

Patrick: Any memories you have in your interactions with campers in the summer ’07 that you’d like to share with us?

Wes: One of the teen weeks that year was very difficult for me. We had a mix of campers from different backgrounds, and the whole cabin sort of imploded. It was a real challenge.

And then the very next week, there were these twin boys from the city in my cabin [who were a challenge]. But I had learned a lot from the previous week, so I knew that these twin boys and the behaviors they exhibited … I knew God put them in my cabin and I was ready to stand up and be a mentor to these young men.

They had a lot of anger issues. Before the week was over, my co-counselor and I had learned how to respond to their anger in a way that de-escalates it.

In the span of a week, you’re not often going to see that full 180-degree turn-around. But one of those twin boys accepted Christ that week, and I’ll never forget that. It was very powerful.

Patrick: Were you able to stay in touch with those boys?

Wes: I did not. The lesson that I learned from that brief interaction, that one week, was that even in the challenging weeks, there’s a lot of growth. God grew something in me, and at the same time he was planting seeds in those boys’ lives through our ministry. You never know when these lessons will need to be applied in a specific situation, but that was one where it all came together in a short amount of time.

Patrick: As a senior counselor, you have a unique opportunity to show how you lead not only to the campers, but to your co-counselors as well. Did you have any moments or series of conversations where you felt your revelation about your identity in Christ passed on to a junior counselor or …?

Wes: I think because it was a tumultuous year for me, I can’t say how well I did as a senior counselor in reference to the junior counselors that worked with me. What I can say is that three of the junior counselors from that year were part of my wedding. So we forged lasting friendships that summer.

Patrick: You got married this summer?

Wes: Heck yes!

Patrick: And how has life changed for you since then?

Wes: I’m in school, and my wife (Dorcas) is working. So I’m something of a house-husband, and I’m doing things I’m not accustomed to. Life feels more “grown-up.” It’s also really great to have a constant companion in Dorcas.

Patrick: How did you two meet?

Wes: We met at college [Nyack]. I had really urged her to apply to work at Black Rock Retreat. She was hesitant at first, but she did come down in 2012 for one year. She loved it so much that she wanted to return in 2013, but that wasn’t possible since we planned our wedding for July.

Many thanks to Wes for opening up about his time that year, and about his more recent life changes as well. Congratulations to Wes and Dorcas on their marriage!

Were you a camper or staff member during the year of 2007? Have you ever had Wes as your counselor? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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