I say it all the time - Camp is my favorite week of the Summer.
There is something special that happens when you get away from the other distractions of life to learn and experience new things with other Christ followers. It’s a really unique experience for the counselors in particular. Counselors volunteer a full week of their time to invest in the lives of kids that are not their own so that they can grow deeper in their relationship with Christ. But as a counselor, something always happens - you learn things too. God teaches you as you are leading your campers. Matt Stephens went to Preteen Camp as a counselor this year for the first time. Read below for what his experience was with camp and what God taught him through the process.
"I am scared to go to camp!"
I have not been to this camp with these kids before.
Are the kids going to like me? Are the counselors going to be mean? Who's my bunk mate? Do they snore? I'm in the 3rd & 4th grade boys bunk house... will the older kids pick on me? What is Gaga ball? Archery & BB guns...What if I miss? What if I get lost? But wait I am supposed to be the adult...that does not make it easier.
These were a few of the many questions I had to wrestle with while getting ready for camp. Side note: My oldest daughter was there and she does a great job of taking care of me.
From the bus ride there, to the bus ride home it was a God centered atmosphere. We played games we knew and we learned some new ones. Keith and Yancy entertained us. There were adventures up in the sky and on the ground. We swam, we slid, we slipped and went flying out into the water. Every aspect of the trip was focused on God's Love and Greatness. It was a blast.
When your time is concentrated like this it makes a deep impact. With your days full of worship, laughter and joy you can not help but be elevated. To be a part of this was truly a blessing.
God moved through the camp in many ways. I saw timid hearts become bold. Shepherds or church counselors worked with their kids to pass the swim test. One young man became so bold he bought a can drink for a young lady, from another church! I saw camp staff gently correct behavior and love every child. Many young people accepted Jesus into their heart.
God worked on me, too. The beginning fearful thoughts were not just for fun - they were real, for me. Those questions were answered but many more came up. I did survive and everyone played nice. Also, no one complained about my snoring.
God has bigger plans than I can ever fully understand. In my mind, I went to camp just to help wrangle cats and keep the peace. What I did not expect was an extreme personal makeover. In the past my wife and I have worked in churches. We left those positions with many of the same hurts, we all carry, that comes with serving people. I think we all have some sort of bruise from interacting with people and the pain is deeper when it comes from God's chosen.
I do not know His plan in detail. I only know I do not need to know, to follow. He does not call the equipped, He equips the called.
I think I want to go back to camp.