Camp 2009 is over, which is very hard to believe. I remember back in May, anxiously awaiting to hear if I was on staff, and then the complete excitement when I found out that I was. I knew camp wouldn’t always be easy, but I was up for the challenge. When I came to camp for the staff retreat, my excitement for the summer only grew. Mid-June rolled around, and with that came the beginning of camp! The program that I was in at the beginning of the summer started two weeks before the rest of camp, so we had the whole camp to ourselves. Because the rest of camp started two weeks later, a good portion of those two weeks were spent prepping the camp for everyone else—aka PCT. We painted, painted, painted, and did other jobs around camp. It was neat to be able to do some of the “behind the scenes” work—work that we knew would benefit everyone else. Even though we weren’t with the kids a lot, we had as much fun as we could while still getting the jobs done properly and in a way that honored God. I was in that same program for four more weeks, a total of six weeks. I was then switched to a different program. I had had a feeling that I would be switched, but I had no idea to which program. I got switched into the oldest program. At first, I was shocked, overwhelmed, and had absolutely no idea how to relate to these kids. Once I got the hang of the program, I wasn’t overwhelmed anymore. Well, not for the same reasons.
My last three weeks at camp were the hardest for me. I had a lot of situations where I had to fully rely on God because there was no possible way at all that my humanity could handle the situation, much less pull through unbroken. Even though these challenges were there, they were not roadblocks. They were merely turns in the road to change my direction back to God. As a result of those challenges, I was humbled, emptied of myself, and broken. God works best through broken vessels though—we’re not in the way of His light shining through (2 Corinthians 4). February 2008, I learned this, and it definitely applies to camp: “God is made famous, when, in the most difficult places of our lives, we continue to glorify Him…Our message is loudest not when our lives are going great—our message is loudest when our lives hurt most…When the pressure’s on, and there’s still hope in your voice, people pay attention.” (Louie Giglio, Passion: DC conference). Something that my leadership told me when I was in my first program has stuck with me: Don’t pray for patience—pray for a spirit of patience. If you just pray for patience, God will give you opportunities where you have to be patient. I learned that to be very true. (For those who were in that program, that happened that one devo time where we were all laughing hysterically the entire time =] ). During that first program, my friend and I (my PB) started to sing a camp song whenever we were stressed/being tried/etc.—“Jesus Is a Waymaker.” Even though it didn’t always make us less stressed, the fact that we were praising God served a couple of very good purposes: 1.) We were praising God. That’s good no matter what. 2.) We were praising God both during and for the difficult times. 3.) Our singing usually led to others singing, which helps you calm down even more. Whenever I was feeling stressed, I would sing this song—even if it was through gritted teeth and every part of my flesh argued against it.
When people ask me about camp, one of the first things that comes out that I learned is patience. I know I learned a lot more, but if I had to summarize camp in one Bible verse, it would be First Corinthians 15:18, which says: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”