Resurrection

Spring comes slowly to Camas Meadows. This photo was taken on the last day of March and Camas Creek had just begun to run, signaling the spring melt. 

It starts with a new warmth in the sunlight as it touches your face and the dripping of icicles on the eves. Then the snow begins to look sunken was water starts running deep underneath, feeding the creek. Soon, the rushing waters melt the snow above and Camas Creek is pouring over the small waterfall at the top of the hill. Then patches of bare earth appear on the meadow and soon a blush of green as tender shoots stretch up through the soil.

Before the snows have completely receded, Pine Lilies bloom on the sunniest hillsides proving that all is not dead beneath the frozen ground. I don’t think it was accidental that Christ died and rose in the Spring. As the world around us is proving that winter is not forever and the darkness has not won, God Himself showed His great love. He walked and died among us and then rose, bringing the impossible miracle of spring to the hardened ground of the human heart. Resurrection out of hopelessness, beauty from ashes, and new life from the very mouth of the grave.

May the name of the Lord be praised!

 

 

 

Boo Boo

Jenna’s Camp Story

Let me introduce you to a young woman who will be interning with us at camp this summer. Not only does she have a heart for the Lord, Jenna is also a talented writer and has put her experience at camp into words in a beautiful way. Here is Jenna’s story.

When I think about places that have made an impact on my life, Camas is one of the first places that comes to mind. It not only helped lay a foundation and shape my relationship with Christ but it also helped shape my identity and eventually the woman I saw myself as.

My first year at Camas was life changing for me, I had never felt so welcomed and so comfortable somewhere in my life. I had never felt so absolutely free to be myself and not have to worry about anyone else. For an entire week I got to make friends, play night games, worship Jesus, and I didn’t have to worry about any of the troubles and pain that were behind me in my life back home. I was surrounded by people who so intentionally poured into me and made me feel loved.

My father and I have not had a healthy relationship growing up, he is an alcoholic and has been distant for most of my life, but that week I felt a FATHER’S love. His love radiated from my counselors and everyone there and for the first time, I felt like I mattered, like the “little things” I was going through at the time weren’t little things at all.

I was also struggling with being bullied around the same time I started going to Camas, and being able to make those healthy friendships helped me and my identity in more ways than one. I came home and through my weeks of post camp depression I told my mom that I had to go back next year, no matter what. For the next 6 years I spent every summer at Camas, whether I was living in California or Washington one thing was for sure, come summer I’d be at Camas for a week.

Camas became a spiritual home to me. It was a place where you felt comfortable, a place where you could be yourself without having to worry about being unaccepted, a place where you knew that no matter what, when you go there you will feel loved. Home is family, and Camas became my family. Home isn’t four walls and a white picket fence, it is the people you laugh and cry with and the old back porch you do it on. It’s the thrill in being thrown in the lake by Chaco and the sound of Scruffy laughing in the distance at a campfire.

I have grown to call Arkansas home, and have been blessed with an amazing community and church to grow with. But Camas will ALWAYS be a home to me. I can’t tell you how many times after I moved 2000 miles away I would look back at old pictures from camp and it would help get me through the hard times. I thought about the years I’ve spent there and the relationships I made, the people that loved me no matter what. The joy of Jesus flows from that place, even when you aren’t there. The simple thought of a memory from camp can make probably most of us smile. And that my friends, is because of Jesus. It is because this is the place where our souls found their true home, where we felt the Father’s love and peace for the first time.

So Camas, being the place where my soul and my body found its home, will forever play an impact on my life, my identity, and my relationship with the Lord. The Lord truly has blessed the foundation of that place and I believe that it is a safe haven for so many more than me, and will continue to be so for years to come.

Jenna Cook

Jr. High Winter Blast

The Jr. High Winter blast is a time of outdoor refreshment and winter play as well as a place to meet new friends and find solace in the arms of the Lord.

Faramir, our speaker, brought the word of God up close and personal with funny stories as well as tales of the amazing way God steps down into our mess to rescue and restore. He even taught everyone a new word “Ebeneezer” as in a memorial stone not the miserly hero of A Christmas Carol.  . 

From tug-o-war to tubing, late night board games in the lodge to that moment that someone actually convinces you to stick an Oreo cookie on your face, Jr. High Winter Blast was amazing, every day, all the way through.

I had the honor of watching one of my own sons participate and seeing him light up as he told his brothers all about the weekend was a reward in itself.

The camp counselors went out of their way to bring both moments of intense fun as well as quiet contemplation to each of their campers. It was beautiful to watch.

I think we sell God short sometimes when we attempt to list out the different kinds of spiritual gifts that He might use to change our hearts and world. This weekend I definitely saw “Cookie Smooshing” and “Sacrificial Snow Battling” on the list along with a good deal of “Encouragement,” “Teaching,” and “Joyful Giving.” Thank you one and all for making this a fabulous weekend!

 

 

Boo Boo

 

 

Summer Staff Winter Retreat 2016

The Summer Staff Winter Retreat occurs the day after Christmas and plays an important role in building our summer staff team for the upcoming year, encouraging former staff in their walk with the Lord, and simply bringing kids together in a fun and safe place where they know that they are loved. One of our girl staff, you may remember her from This Post, was certain that she wouldn’t be able to attend this year. She had to work, didn’t have the money, and honestly wondered if God noticed or cared. Suddenly, things began to shift and change in ways she could not explain. Her boss gave her the days off, she received a monetary gift for the exact amount needed for camp, her Dad and sister made changes to their holiday plans at the last minute. There she was, at camp, sitting with us on the couch, flipping through her Bible with tears in her eyes as she talked about the verses that had spoken to her during those few days together. Do not think for an instant that God has forgotten you. He is at work in so many glorious ways.

Fabulous Bible sessions, amazing worship, and the baring of the soul are important … but weren’t there supposed to be some strange and incredible outdoor team building/get-everyone-soaked-in-snow-so-that-their-hair-is-frozen-into-strange-shapes type activities?

Fear not, Scruffy had that covered as well.

Although, Princess Leia felt that this was an activity she should definitely supervise.

Things got a little chilly and snowy and wet and just a tad bit bumpy.

But there were snow ninjas. 

And the scenery was lovely.

If you could see anything between your snow-crusted lashes

No man was left behind, ie Scruff drove slow enough so that you could catch up if you ran fast enough.

Was “mattress sledding” a success?  

Hmmm … let’s see, snow plastering hair into strange shapes, snow on eyebrows, in ears, eyelashes, is that snow in his nose? The kids were definitely drawn closer together as they clung frantically to the mattress. Looks like a success to me. This my friends is what camp is all about. A strange conglomeration of the most serious things in life all mixed up with the simple pleasures of laughter and friends.

Boo Boo

Follow Me

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Our dog, Princess Leia Freyja Wilks, is incredibly talented at ensuring that she gets to come along on car rides. In fact, it takes real foresight and a bit of sumo wrestling skill to leave her behind. One time, I made certain that each of the boys had their car doors shut and there was no way for her to gain entrance to our vehicle, no way except through the driver’s side. Quickly, I opened up my door and darted inside. I held my arm up to keep her from making a leap for my lap but Leia sensed another weak spot. She dove for my feet, scrambled across the pedals and under my legs in a scrum of paws, feet, and a thrashing tail and plopped herself triumphantly in the passenger seat. Another time, I had my door well-guarded but one of the children wasn’t fast enough and she wedged her snout into his door hurtled herself onto his lap and, like a giant attacking sand worm, wriggled across all three boys’ laps until she lay stretched across them, victorious.

There is really no room for her in the car and she knows this. When she’s sitting in the front seat, she huffs and sighs and switches position here and there giving me long-suffering glances and the occasional raised brow. Yes, dogs really can raise an eyebrow at you, watch her sometime, it’s amazing. When she is in the back seat, stretched across all three boys’ laps, she pants and wriggles and is clearly too hot. When she is in the back with the groceries she hangs her head over the seat gazing at the boys, giving them the occasional slurp and obviously longing to be closer to the fun.

No matter how smooshed and squashed. No matter what indignity she must endure to gain access to the car or upon the ride itself. Leia always wants to come along.

Always.

Matthew 19:21-23—“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Princess Leia Freyja Wilks knows with absolute certainty what is most important to her. Leia knows what it means to give up any security or comfort to follow. No trouble or hardship is too much to squelch her desire to come with us.

Jesus gave such a simple command and yet He was so bold. When He called His disciples the words were simple.

“Come, follow me.”

He did not qualify this request with a guarantee that we would not be smooshed into the backseat of life. He did not explain that we would never have to ride with the groceries, curl up in the passenger seat on top of a lumpy purse, or flatten ourselves out like a giant worm across three constantly moving boyish laps.

“Come, follow me.”

There is a part of our hearts that wants to know exactly what to expect, what to steel ourselves against. But this is not God’s way. Are we His or are we our own? Follow me. Will we or will we not. That is the only question because who knows what the journey will have in store. Yes, God does, but we don’t need to know. We have only one thing to consider. God is going somewhere. Do we want to ride along with Him or not?

Some car rides take Leia to the river where she gets to chew sticks and chase dandelion fluff and dig in the sand. Some car rides are for shopping and she must squish between cans of green beans and watch the gray buildings whiz past the window. But she always knows the answer to the most important question of all.

“Come, follow me.”

I pity any individual who dares to stand between our 90 pound dog and a car ride with her family, because Leia may not deign to fetch a stick or leave a pan of warm rolls alone upon the counter, but she knows exactly what it means to follow.

Now, the most important question of all.

Do we?

 

 

Boo Boo

 

10 Years of CamasCon

 

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CamasCon had its 10th Birthday this fall.

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Ten years ago, Scruffy had this crazy idea. What if there was a camp for Christian gamers? He looked online and nothing of the sort was available. He started from scratch but nonetheless jumped in with both feet and a prayer. That first fall CamasCon had only twelve campers, but those twelve were hooked. A weekend packed full of board gaming with chapel sessions and good fellowship spoke to a need that we all have. The desire to meet other people who care about the same things that we do. Ten years later Camas Meadows holds three CamasCon gaming retreats a year. Spring, Summer, and Fall. 

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So many new people have been introduced to camp through CamasCon. New campers, counselors, and speakers. Folks who can no longer be involved in the regular running of the camp or have become too busy to be camp counselors, still come to CamasCon. It has become a haven. A weekend of rest and recreation with friends and a time for spiritual renewal.

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Since this weekend was CamasCon’s tenth anniversary, the retreat ran a little longer. Starting on Thursday and ending on Monday, 54 campers enjoyed delicious food cooked by our wonderful Phyllis Lian and of course a whole mess of board games.

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The speaker, Rob Anderson, talked about peace. Shalom. This Hebrew word does not simply mean peace. Wrapped up within the simple greeting is the concept of God’s ideal for the world and everything in it. Shalom. Eden. Original perfection. When someone greeted another with the word Shalom, it was like saying: May God make you whole again, Eden-like, healed, and perfect in His sight, free of brokenness and hate.dscn2241

As you can see, much more occurs at CamasCon than gaming. But it is important to note, there is a whole lot of fabulous gaming.

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Not only did we celebrate 10 years of epic board game battles, but also 10 years of fellowship, friendly competition, spiritual growth, and being in a place where you belong, are understood, and are listened to. May the games continue for many years to come!

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Boo Boo

 

 

 

 

Fearful

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Drenching rains, fallen leaves washed into sodden piles, fog creeping up the meadow and lingering among the pines. Autumn is here and Halloween fast approaching. When I look out across the meadow in the mornings as I’m driving the boys to the bus stop, I often see wisps of morning mist drifting through the bony fingers of the bare aspen groves with creepy eloquence. It gives me the same kind of thrilling chill as reading an Agatha Christie novel on a dark evening with a cup of warm tea in hand. But there was a time and place when people were truly frightened as the days made their steady march toward October 31st.

Monday may be just an excuse to eat a whole lot of chocolate, wear a pirate costume, and throw bean bags through a painted piece of plywood in the church parking lot, but this fall I find no shortage of things to be frightened of.

As I eschewed sleep to nurse a beloved pet chicken and then held a heartbroken boy after his favorite pet had died, I realized something anew. Anyone who chooses to love must live with fear. What if that puppy you waited for all year gets out and is hit by a car? What if a dog gets into the chicken pen and kills your pet hen? What if that case of Mono your oldest child came down with is actually Leukemia? What if your husband gets into a car wreck or your wife meets a grizzly bear on her way to the outhouse during vacation? You laugh, but as we enjoyed the marvels of Yellowstone this summer, the thought did cross my mind. But the fears don’t stop there. What if you lose your job? What if terrible laws are passed? What if terrible laws remain? What if the economy crashes? What if we end up like our brothers and sisters all over the world and face persecution? What if it rains? What if it doesn’t rain? What about earthquakes, volcanoes, and tornadoes?

There have always been plenty of things to fear, from random peril to genuine evil, the world has been a dangerous place for a long long time.

It rained all morning, but now the showers are letting up. The forest still lies in a dreary shroud, but we need not wrap ourselves in fear. Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, despite the spooky weather. The quiet insistence of a rainstorm gives one time to think, to mull, to consider, and to seek God. The long nights push families to stay in and play board games together. The nippy weather reminds us to prepare for the winter to come and to be thankful for all the blessings that have been given. But more importantly, God Himself, has given us reason to step out from under the cloak of fear and to trust.

Luke 12:4, 6-7—“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more…Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

John 10:10—“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 12:46—“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Philippians 4:6-7—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Boo Boo

Like A Spider In A Bowl

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A spider was trapped in a large mixing bowl on our kitchen counter last week. Not wanting to wash a bowl with a spider crouched within, I ignored it. Later, I went back and noticed something, dare I say it, inspiring that the spider had accomplished.

Now this spider was totally stuck, destined for death as she could not escape, could not get to water, and had dared to wander into the home of an arachnophobe. Did she curl up into a little ball at the bottom of the huge steel mixing bowl and accept her fate?

Nope.

She made a web and she caught a fly.

And you know what?

I did not squash her. I did not demand that my husband squash her. I did not beg one of my three strong sons to squash her. I showed her to my boys with a little bit of a catch at the back of my throat and then I asked Scruffy to go and release her outside. Because I have been there, too. Stuck, without a hope in sight, breathless with my lack of options and the sudden darkness that surrounded me.

If I, a woman who hates spiders, can be moved by the humble struggles of a stray arachnid…how much more is your Father in Heaven moved by your own struggles, my friend.

He is not deaf to your cries.

He is not blind to your efforts.

He is not heartless in the face of your darkness… brokenness…defeat.

Take heart, cling to His mighty right hand, be secure in His inexplicable love.

Job 39:1, 5-7a–“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn…Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout.” 

Psalm 4:8–“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 10:17-18–“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”

 

 

Boo Boo

 

Quiet Miracles

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Have you ever wondered if God is really there?

That’s a big question, the kind of query that philosophers and theologians have spent lifetimes debating. Yet, no matter our chosen vocation, educational background, abilities or limitations, it is a question that each of us must face.

All this is made harder by the fact that God doesn’t always make sense. If He would just always answer our prayers with a big heavenly “YES” and keep all believers from injury, illness, death, and taxes it would be easy to believe. But He has His own way of doing things.

It always amazes me though, how God will provide for our small struggling faith. That time I snapped impatiently at someone, but couldn’t leave my young children unattended to go and apologize. That prayer: “Lord, if I should address this, You make a way.” And the answer, the very person I’d been short with, standing in the lunch line right next to me. The free astro van that a friend of a friend provided only weeks after Scruffy was concerned that we needed something. I had balked and then shot an impatient prayer up to my Lord: “If Scruff’s right, then You’re just going to have to do something, Lord, because I don’t see how this is going to work.” There were bigger things, like the pony my parents never intended to buy me that I prayed about for a year. Out of the blue, someone gave Shortcake to our family, against my parents wishes. The time God sternly indicated that we should send our oldest to public school, even though I already had my home school curriculum all picked out. Then there are the hard things, answered prayers when my step dad was dying of cancer. Those prayers for healing, not the answer we wanted. But time after time my mom was given divine assistance that just didn’t make sense. That moment she couldn’t lift Dave and she prayed and someone just happened to knock on her door. Over and over the Lord showed His presence, yet in the end Dave still died, with God right there, showing Himself, walking beside my mom. 

I have a story from this summer. A quiet miracle that could so easily be missed. It did not send a revival through camp, bring a lost soul to heaven’s gate, or change the course of nations. But it meant everything to me.

Scruffy is fabulous with connecting with campers and staff and old school buddies and random strangers who need help reaching something off the top shelf at the store. Me, not so much. Give me a blank Word document or a sheet of paper and I can communicate with the best of them, but present an actual living breathing human and I tend to not do as well. 

Despite my inadequacies, a senior high camper friended me on facebook last year. Let’s call her…Cordelia. We had several meaningful exchanges. But then the terrible truth hit me like a semi truck barreling down Blewett Pass. I wouldn’t recognize Cordelia in real life! We’d made a connection and due to my deficiencies in recognizing actual human faces, I was bound to walk right past her if she came to camp again. I rushed to Scruffy and demanded that he describe this camper in detail. He did, but so many girls could fit that description. I peered at Cordelia’s tiny profile picture on facebook and scrolled through photo after photo on her feed. It was no use, I could not be certain that I would recognize her in real life. I was bound to hurt her feelings when next we met. Finally, as a last resort, after doing my best to memorize her photo, I prayed. “Lord, I do not want to hurt this girl after our chats on facebook. Please, help me to recognize her.”

Did God answer my prayer?

Not the way I expected, but yes, He did.

I did not recognize her. Cordelia walked right past me on Lake day. My inabilities in the people department remained. Nary a twinge of new face recognition powers. I was hopeless. God however, is not.

One of the camp staff walked up to me and said “Did you see Cordelia. She is right over there.” She pointed and described the individuals surrounding Cordelia whom she’d driven to the lake with and even the color of swimsuit that Cordelia was wearing.

What are the odds? God came through for me, though He did not give me new abilities. He chose to work through someone else with the talent to recognize not only faces but clothing and swimming companions as well. Then God marched that talented person right over to my beach blanket and had them spout off all the relevant info in time for me to go and say hi to Cordelia before she left.

God is there and yes, He is working, just not always in the way that You and I expect. You can trust Him, at the lake out in the beautiful sunshine and at the side of a loved one who is passing away despite the fact that your heart is breaking. I can’t explain Him. I don’t know what the heck He is doing or thinking or planning. But I know that He loves and He works and He is here. Ever working, ever present, ever God.

I Corinthians 15:10–“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”

 

Boo Boo

 

 

 

Jr. B Camp-2016

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Finally we come to Jr. B, the last Camas-run camp of the summer. The campers played paintball, rode horses, and crashed through the forest during night games.

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They traveled by bus to Lake Chelan for a sun-soaked day at one of the clearest lakes in all the world and of course they…

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…did strange and inexplicable cabin bonding activities while there. What are those girls doing, looking for sharks?

 

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There were fabulous, archery-related victories…

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…and photo opportunities with Princess Leia Freyja…

 

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Strange and confusing skits…

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…and counselors dressed up in pajamas and pigtails all so that their campers could eagerly make fun of them.

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But most importantly, we were once again given a glimpse of God. In the crazy and goofy moments and in the majestic beauty of Lake Chelan as the sun sank below the hills. In the quiet chirping of insects in the grass and the blazing majesty of a sky full of shooting stars. In the chapel sessions where God’s word was taught and the sound of 40 children lifting their voices to God in song. Two young boys chose to give their lives to God this week and many more were shown God’s love and compassion during a six day heap of awesomeness we like to call camp. Thank you so much for your prayers and support this summer, everyone. We truly could not do it without you. God Bless!

 

 

Boo Boo