Sometimes adults get it- sometimes they don’t. Jennifer always got it.
She always let us tease her for the way she said “Ha-le-LU-jah.” She always set us up with the chords to start singing “Siyahamba” knowing fully well that we would respond by making fun of how she could never reach that lowest note. She always let us choose the same songs to sing, our old favorites, time and again, year after year. I’m sure she is sick of hearing “Shut-de-do,” “Pass it On” and “Sanctuary,” but she never lets on.
Jennifer understood that we signed up for “Choir Camp” every year- but the choir was not what it was really about for us. She understood that camp was a special place- a rare gem. Kids who are surrounded 9 months out of the year by mean middle schoolers, impending college applications and an exhausting balancing act of after school jobs, clubs, sports and- if there was time- homework, needed camp to just be camp.
She pushed us to be better; better singers, better Christians, better friends. But she also just let us be kids. Kids who are now graduated from high school and college. Kids who are engaged, working in technology, studying in graduate school, and teaching the next generation of children to be better people all over the world. Kids who would not have made it through the stress of modern life, who may have gotten caught up in the unimportant if it wasn’t for her- urging us to enunciate the d’s in “Gawd-uh” and to treat every song like a prayer. She was- and continues to be- a rock solid support system for me and hundreds of other students. I still hear her influence in the back of my mind when times get rough. She lead by example and helped shape a generation. She just gets it.