Junior B Camp–Relentless and Reckless

This week of camp held many unexpected twists and turns as well as surprising moments of beauty. Much like this rare flower blooming right beside the dusty path down to the meadow. It is a protected flower, a biologist comes to count them every few years. Yet this one is thriving, out in the open, right beside the path that we walk every day. While this type of flower may be in danger, this particular blossom is relentless as it grows and blooms in such a rowdy location. It is ironic that one of my favorite photos from this week would so aptly illustrate our theme.

All three of our interns were required to work as camp counselors this week, leaving Scruffy and Bomber working to run the program and lead the support staff team along with their normal jobs. The interns both managed their cabins and helped those who had stepped in to take over their areas of expertise. Our camp nurse Trauma Trooper was suffering from back pain, therefore Mama Smurf assisted her as she cared for our campers and their various bumps and bruises. Phew! So many things ended up differently than our best laid plans.

Also, our camp speaker was unable to attend due to illness. Therefore, Scruffy needed to speak! During staff meeting on Monday, he gathered three different hats/wigs from the skit box. Scruff wore a different one as he led each of the different parts of the meeting as director, the program director, then speaker. Scruff brushed off a week’s worth of sessions that he taught for a rental group back in 2018 and we gathered as a staff to pray for extra strength and do what we were called to do, summer camp!

And into a wild and wonderful week of camp we went! While registration was going on, we played some games together to help the campers get to know each other and the staff team. First up, Chair Ball.

For chapel, Scruffy started with a crazy car story from his college days. In fact, one boys’ cabin actually acted that story out in their skit. It’s the one where they have towels on their heads and get a door slammed in their faces when they ask for help. You should ask Scruff to tell you the story of The Dust Storm And The 77 VW Dasher.

During the first Morning Jam worship session, I was sitting in the lodge sorting through pictures and posting the best ones for parents to enjoy. I noticed that in the group of boys behind me, there was one who REALLY wanted to do the motions to the fast songs, but his buddies weren’t quite ready yet.

After watching him try again and strike out, I left my computer and joined their cabin. That delightful camper was not daunted by the idea of doing song motions with a 44-year-old mom. He was just thrilled to be doing fast songs and motions and to be part of all the fun. I pulled aside one of his counselors and told him how excited his camper was about the motions. His counselor assured me that he would sit beside him during chapel and do the motions with him.

Later in the week, I saw that his cabin mates had come around. They were enthusiastically doing motions and singing at the tops of their lungs.

On Friday, at the campfire, this same camper stood up to share. He talked about the stars in the sky and everyone there looked up to the heavens to look at the stars, too. Then he said, “Worship made me feel like I was part of things and not left out.”

You never know what God will use in someone’s life. Crazy camp songs, or even a shaggy dog who gives slobbery kisses to one and all.

Another story from Junior B Camp, we had a homesick camper who was trying to decide whether to continue his week of camp or to go home early.

His counselor was attentive to his concerns and needs, giving him special care and trying to encourage him as he struggled with missing his home and family.

The camper mulled over his choices, feeling homesick, but also enjoying camp. Finally, he made his choice. He was going to stick out the week!

After that, he would check in with Scruffy regularly throughout the day.

“Look,” he’d say, “I’m still here!”

This camper slowly made a switch from needing a good deal of encouragement to taking the time and energy out of his busy camp days to encourage others.

On one day, when Scruff was wrestling with the message that he would give that night, this camper walked up to him, gave an encouraging word, and said: “Can I give you a hug?” It nearly brought Scruff to tears to see this little one actively using his gifts to help others.

And what message was Scruffy wrestling with, trying to figure out exactly how to share? This week, Scruffy spoke about God’s pursuit of us.

Like a shepherd traveling into the dangerous wilderness in pursuit of his one lost sheep.

Like a woman cleaning her entire house to find that one valuable coin.

Like a father rushing down the road to pull his broken, starving son into his arms.

Like Westley … or The Man in Black, pursuing Princess Buttercup when she is trapped by an evil prince who is able to force her into a loveless marriage since the law of the land caters to his every whim.

After reading scripture about God’s pursuit of us, Scruffy ended the chapel session by playing a song. He expected the campers to sit in quiet contemplation, thinking about how much God loved them.

The song was Reckless Love sung by Cory Asbury.

But contemplative silence was not what happened.

One of our most precocious girl campers heard the music and just started belting out the song, full voice, loud and strong. Slowly, more and more children joined her.

The words were included in the video, so even children who didn’t know it could sing along. By the time the video reached the chorus for the first time, the entire room of children were singing.

No one was leading them. Staff simply watched, amazed, or wept like Scruffy and I.

Adults would have known the purpose of the video, thinking on the words, enjoying the music, thoughtful, quiet, orderly.

But God doesn’t tell us to come to Him like orderly adults who understand social cues and are quiet when they are supposed to be.

“…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

No, our Lord said that if we want to be His, we come to Him as children or not at all.

And so the children sang. No leaders, top of their lungs, some in tune, some out of tune, some both. One boy sang harmony every single time instead of only on the ending chorus. Wild, reckless, joyful, strong. They didn’t sing because it was time to sing.

They sang because they saw that they could and knew they wanted to.

This, my friend, is how we must come to God.

Not confident that we know all the dos and don’ts.

Not with pride and a feeling that we are more worthy than others.

We must come as children.

Like children who hear a song and simply know that they want to sing.

When the song ended, that obstreperous little girl who has started it all looked over at me and furrowed her brow. “Why are you crying, Boo Boo?”

How on earth could I possibly explain?

So, I didn’t.

“I’m just worshiping,” I said.

Baffled, she shrugged and marched off to the next camp activity, having no idea that what had just happened would stick with our entire staff as one of the most amazing moments of camp.

So much beauty. So much craziness. It was such a busy and boisterous week.

One evening, Orchid found herself rushing around, madly searching for one of her campers.

She zoomed up to the lodge and found the “lost” camper with the nurse.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to see the nurse?” she asked.

“You told me to go to the nurse.” The camper reminded her.

Orchid sighed, the camper was right. It had been her idea for this camper to go and see the nurse, but when Orchid had gotten to the activity she’d wondered where the camper had gone.

The camper reached up and patted Orchid on the top of the head. “It’s OK brain, you can do this, just one more day.” It is so delightful when the campers learn how to encourage their counselors as they do the delightfully rowdy job of keeping each of them safe. So much learning and growth happened in the lives of these wonderful children.

One of the most fun moments of the day is worship time. Before they start, Epona always asks the campers to give her three reasons why they want to praise God.

The reasons vary, from grilled cheese to Princess Leia Freyja, there is always something to praise God about.

This week, one of the funniest reasons was this: “Praise God for Dragon scaring people and praise God for pie in Dragon’s face!”

Yes, the Watchamabob where Dragon was hiding under the table and when the campers lifted the box, they saw her head was very memorable.

What was also memorable was when Brennan lifted the box and splatted Dragon in the face with a whipped cream pie!

Then of course Dragon burst out of her hiding place and chased Brennan all the way across camp!

Hiccup had a moment to praise God for this week. He shared about a package that was incredibly encouraging to him.

He was in the middle of a very hectic week of counseling. His particular group of boys were incredibly energetic. He was starting to get discouraged when a strange package appeared in the mail.

It was sprayed liberally with perfume. Everyone at camp knows that smelly packages or letters have to be opened in public.

He opened the box … to find a smaller box.

He knew exactly what that meant. Box after box after box after box. “That package!” he said. “It was good to be reminded that at least some people thought I was doing a good job.”

Hiccup and Meteor Knight’s cabin was indeed incredibly active. They did everything together and they did it at full speed with every ounce of energy they possessed. Their counselors were kept quite busy chasing these rambunctious boys throughout the week. But they also memorized Bible verses and cleaned their cabin with just as much enthusiasm as they played Ga Ga Ball and Night Games. In the end, they even won the cabin competition!

Hiccup’s cabin was not only known for their speed and volume, one of the campers also kept telling Ragnar (Hiccup’s brother) that he reminded them of his Grandma. Ragnar would do something and the camper would reply, “Oh, my Grandma does that, too!”

Scruffy pointed out that Ragnar did wear a bathrobe over his clothes for a good portion of the week, which might account for all of the Grandmother references.

Boo Boo was startled to hear some fairly paternal words coming out of the mouth of Ragnar.

Once such occurrence appeared when Ragnar was tasked with getting the cabin to change into pants for the night game.

Camper–“I’m wild! I don’t need pants. I can do this in shorts!”

Ragnar–“You can be wild with pants on. Go get some pants!”

Rowdiness was not only found in the boy cabins. True, I didn’t hear any of the girl counselors tell about how they were awakened from a nice FOB nap by the sound of their campers racing through the rafters. But the girl campers kept their counselors on their toes just fine.

Our cook, Earhart, was sitting by the window in the lodge and was delighted to hear her sister Kanga leading cabin discussion. How wonderful. How sweet. “What is sin?” the campers asked.

Kanga and Orchid explained.

“But what is sin?”

Kanga and Orchid explained in a different way.

“Hmmm … so, what is sin?”

Kanga and Orchid explained yet again.

In the end, Earhart smiled in amazement as she went back to the rigors of the kitchen. Kanga was left to explain one more time.

It is no easy task to wrangle excitable children, keep them safe, make sure they are having fun, and tell them about the love of God all in one wild week!

During the campfire, we are reminded how God uses all of this wonderful rowdiness for His glory.

“I wasn’t sure that this would be as good a year at camp because I didn’t have any friends in my cabin. But everyone just welcomed me in.”

“I learned that everyone has troubles, not just me.”

“I love how everyone makes you feel at home.”

“I learned that God searches for you like a lost sheep and wants to put you on His shoulders and take you home.”

One of my favorite and rowdiest moments was when I was in charge of a boys’ cabin for about fifteen minutes.

Hiccup was up at the lodge and MeteorKnight had to take a camper with a possible allergic reaction up to the camp nurse.

Therefore, I found myself the caretaker of five young boys and in charge of handing out glow sticks so that they could share in front of our LED fire.

“Sounds easy,” you say. Well, no it’s not. You see, you have to hand out the glow sticks but keep the campers from cracking them until they are indeed ready to share. Otherwise, they begin waving their glow sticks around, then leaping around, then running around in the dark and tripping over wooden benches and getting hurt. Do not ask how I know this!

So, I was very carefully handing out glow sticks to “my” campers, one at a time, lest unsafe frivolity occur. Each boy got one. They shared.

“I thank God for grilled cheese sandwiches!”

“Ga Ga Ball was so awesome!”

“Night games, night games, night games, raaaaaar!”

The boys used up my last glow stick and I settled in, prepared to spend my remaining time shushing them.

“Can I have another glow stick?” one little boy whispered.

“I’m all out,” I informed him.

Silence.

“Can I share even without a glow stick?”

“Of course.”

More silence.

“You’ll need to do it soon, they’re about to wrap things up.”

“I’ll go after one more person goes.”

No one went.

Scruffy got up and was about to signal the end of campfire, when he paused. “If there is anyone else who wants to share, this is your last chance.”

My camper stood up and went to the campfire. “Before I came to camp, I didn’t really believe much in God. But now I know that God has more of an impact on my life than I realized.”

He didn’t have a glow stick to throw into the “fire” but another camper saw and threw his own glow stick in for him. That wild and rowdy camper knew when he had important words that needed to be shared. Seeing him boldly walk forward, without a glowstick, reminds me once again of God’s great love. He seeks us, relentlessly, with the kind of love that doesn’t make sense. Then He calls is to follow, not like learned students or stately theologians. No, He calls us to come like reckless and rowdy children who just know that God is who they want.

Matthew 18:1-3 –“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'”

Reckless Love

Boo Boo

Middle School 1–Choices

Middle school camp is for such an amazing age group. This is the age of choices. This is the time when a child’s brain grows to be able to understand the abstract things in life (try explaining a metaphor to a ten-year-old) and when they start to understand the complexities of the world around them. They begin to see that they have a say in who they are and who they will become tomorrow and the day after that.

Appropriately enough, our speaker Wiggin spoke on choices.

On Monday his theme was The Choice is Yours. He showed a clip from Tangled where Rapunzel is trying to decide whether to leave her tower. The question for that chapel session was, “Are you going to live in your tower or make the decision for yourself?” He reminded them that everything they did or didn’t do during their week of camp (paintball, dunk tank, horseback rides) was their choice. Would they truly experience the week or remain distanced from the possibilities and people around them?

On Tuesday, Wiggin showed a clip from Monster’s Inc. to remind us that we have a choice about how we see the world around us. In the clip, Sulley tucks Boo into bed. He has the choice whether to believe that there is hope for humans and monsters.

We have the choice to see how bad the world is and to despair, to see both the good and the bad and figure that it sort of evens out, or to see that the world is not how it is supposed to be, that there is bad and good together, but to still hope for when God makes things right. We have the choice to hope.

Romans 8:22-26

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Many children have lived through so many hard things by the time they reach middle school and it is at about this age that they are able to process what they have gone through or are going through and then realize when something is wrong.

Just like the monsters in that cartoon are suddenly waking up to the world around them, these little ones become newly aware of the hardship, pain, and evil in our world.

But there is another side to this coin of awakening. Middle schoolers are also freshly aware of their ability to choose to follow God. So much important work with the Lord happens in kids hearts at this age.

It was especially touching for Scruffy to watch Wiggin serve as camp speaker. You see, Scruff and I were here to see Wiggin come to camp as a nine-year-old camper, become a C.I.T., go on to be a camp counselor with our own boys as happy campers in his cabin, grow up, get married, and then come back to teach kids about Jesus.

It is such an honor to have been a part of camp ministry long enough to watch children grow up, grow in the Lord, and then dedicate their lives in service to Him. It isn’t often that we find ourselves doing the same thing for 23 years. But the benefit of being called to serve at the same place for so long is that the full picture of what happens when kids come to camp begins to unfold. Watching Wiggin speak was one of those beautiful moments.

One of our cooks got to go on a horseback ride with a cabin of campers. She told about the camper who rode in front of her and his constant narration about the ride. “The horse is walking now.” He would turn around in the saddle to make sure that she got each important declaration.

“Oh, the horse is trotting.” He would look back and inform her about each change in pace. “The horse is now walking.” Then a moment of drama! His horse stumbled over a rock. But don’t worry, this camper was quick to alert our cook about the experience.

On Wednesday, Wiggin spoke on The Choice We Can’t Make. Sin is in every part of our world, even when we try our best. He showed a clip from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe where Edmund makes a deal with the white witch for some Turkish Delight and the promise of being a prince.

One of the stories from this week that was especially inspiring (yes, it made both Scruffy and Boo Boo cry) started out as a negative.

Scruffy had to deal with a discipline issue in one of the boys’ cabins.

One camper had been bullying another and of course this was discovered when the bullied camper reacted in frustration. As anyone who works with kids knows, it is usually the second person who gets caught, leaving the adult to figure out what exactly happened to elicit the response of the second child in the first place.

After the counselors and our speaker did some sleuthing, they brought the child who had started the kerfuffle to Scruff.

Scruff was just so proud, watching our team work. They showed compassion to both the child being bullied who reacted badly and to the child who had made the initial bad choice to begin with.

By the time Scruffy came on the scene, this camper was ready for some serious conversations about what was really going on with him. We always have a choice in how we will react to the hard things in life and it was so apt that this was exactly what Wiggin was speaking on. This camper recognized that what he had done was wrong and he wanted to make things right. He went up to the other boy, apologized for what he had done, and asked to start the friendship over again.

The camper came back and apologized and the other camper was quick to forgive. In fact, this camper was worried about his bully and the bad choices that this child had made. He thanked his counselor for helping the other camper to feel better, even though he had been the one hurt by the situation.

The counselor set up a board game where both campers played together and it was incredible to see these boys taking responsibility for their actions, apologizing, forgiving, and moving forward with a fun game together.

On Thursday, Wiggin spoke about The Choice Jesus Made. He showed the clip from Mulan where she makes the choice to take her father’s place in battle. Our Lord and savior took our place in a battle that we could never win. Because of His great love, He fought the fight in our stead.

On Friday, Wiggin talked about The Choice of Life. We can live in death or we can choose to live in life with Christ. He showed the clip from The Lion King where Simba hears his father’s voice in the stars, “Remember who you are. You have forgotten yourself and so forgotten me.” He called us to remember who we are. We are heirs with Christ, beloved children of the King, precious sheep of a loving shepherd. We belong to Jesus and we can truly live by walking with Him.

On Saturday, Wiggin talked about The Daily Choice. Wiggin showed a clip from Return of the Jedi . The Emperor has Luke at his mercy but Luke says he will never join The Dark Side. Wiggin pointed out that Luke’s choice of “never” requires a daily choice. It is the same when we choose to follow Jesus. That choice happens again and again with each step that we take for every day of our lives. In the movie, The Emperor’s eyes grew cold and he says, “So be it.” No matter how bad the situation is, we always have a choice.

Wiggin stopped the clip at that dramatic moment but the campers knew what happened next. Many of them made “lightning fingers” simulating The Emperor’s attack. But they also knew that even though Luke’s choice to do right was painful, it led to the downfall of the evil empire. Even though we are not fictional characters, we too are on a journey and we too always have a choice.

John 15:4–“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

After pond day and horse rides, night games and skits, Watchamabob and dunk tank and slip-n-slide … comes the campfire.

We gathered around the LED fire (fire danger is high in Eastern WA) and passed out glow sticks to the campers who wanted to share. We listened to the wind in the aspen trees. We leaned back and looked up at a dark sky filled with stars. We sung a few songs and then slowly, bravely, the campers came forward.

“I’ve been going through a lot, but coming here felt very homey to me.”

“I’ve had a hard time making friends but coming here I felt accepted and was able to make friends.”

“I wanted to come up here because I knew I needed love and I would find it here because I did last year.”

“This is the one week I look forward to all year because it is a break from the busy schedule and the sports and the drama of the rest of the year.”

The highlight of the week for our speaker was listening to a camper share who had never been around Christians before or heard about Christ. She said that even though we didn’t have the same beliefs, she felt loved and accepted.

Upon hearing the gospel, she said that it was beautiful.

Camp is a strange and lovely experience. It is wild and delightful, much like a furry dog wearing a wig. But that very strangeness, the same rowdy fun that causes us to stick Oreo’s to our foreheads and run through the forest at night in search of a stockpile of rocks painted gold … that also bonds us together. Creates memories. Solidifies friendships that can last a lifetime. Then when chapel time comes, of course children share with that counselor who went in the dunk tank just to make them happy. Of course they honestly discuss the Bible with the leader who walked beside them on the hike and swam with them in the pond. What seems silly, leads to moments that are deeply profound.

Like children learning that they are loved, that they don’t have to be a victim, that they don’t have to be a bully, that they have the power to change, that the God who made them gave them a choice.

Luke 9:23–“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'”

Boo Boo

Junior A Camp–Part of God’s Team

Who wants to be part of a team?

Well, actually these campers are volunteering for Watchamabob, an icebreaker that involves putting a pitcher of water on their counselor’s back and leaving them to figure out how to escape … or not.

Brrr … interestingly, this is not the only time that Suki got wet while wearing this charming cow suit.

This week, Epona spoke on the value of being part of a team.

On Monday we watched the clip from the Sonic Movie where our speedy space hedgehog played an amazing game of baseball, playing in every single position because of his great speed … then held his hand up for a high five after the big run. He realized in that moment, that he was truly alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:12–“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Epona made that first chapel quick and simple. A fast look at the idea of trying to press through life alone and that being on a team is a source of strength and comfort. She gave just a glimpse of how God seeks us out to rescue us and then wrapped things up, knowing that each chapel session would grow deeper and more complex as the week progressed.

Luke 19:10–“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

It is such a privilege to host these amazing young campers. For many of them, this is their first time spending a week away from home. They seem to instinctively know the value of community. This camper hasn’t even been to one chapel session yet, but he is enjoying being on the Bear’s Abode team for sure.

Philippians 2:4–“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Psalm 133:1–“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

When Elijah thought he was alone after defeating the prophets of Baal, fleeing the wrath of Jezebel, and finding himself waiting for the voice of God on a distant mountain, God did not leave him hurting and alone. God showed up, with a still small voice, and directed Elijah to go and call Elisha to join him in the Lord’s work. God made him part of a team.

As each camper finds out who their counselors will be and which cabin is their home for the week, they learn that they are part of a team.

Whether Robin’s Roost or Owl’s Perch, Sasquatch Lair or Bear’s Abode, it is good to be part of a team and to not be alone.

Princess Leia Freyja is not very good at being part of a team. Here, she wants to sneak out onto the paintball field and chase chipmunks right in the middle of all the action.

During paintball, players are divided into red team and blue team according to the color of their paintball markers.

Here, red team sprints out of their bunker to engage the others in the forest.

A member of blue team sneaks through the woods to try and catch someone from red team unawares.

Paintball is always a highlight. Something that most children don’t get to enjoy at home.

This camper is enjoying the ropes course with her cabin.

After a busy time outdoors, it is always nice to do a craft with your friend.

Or impress a fellow counselor in training by playing with your food! Yes, Dragon looks very impressed with Suki’s mashed potato duck. The photographer was equally astounded, I assure you.

On Tuesday, Epona showed a clip about Miraculous Ladybug and Chat Noir. A team whose gifts are very different, but enable them to have each other’s back during tough times.

Acts 2:46-47–“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

This camper was very nervous about the water. But after Ragnar towed him around a bit and he felt how the lifejacket worked and learned different strategies for keeping his face out of the water, he had a blast during pond day!

Leap!

Princess Leia Freyja is full of advice for campers about pond day. She is also happy to share a bit of her own water with anyone nearby when she shakes.

On “Horse Day” when all of the campers get the chance to go horseback riding, we enjoyed a special craft courtesy of the hat shop and wood shop in Leavenworth.

Campers loved painting their very own horses to take home.

This camper even incorporated her horse into the cabin’s decorations!

Support Staff and campers alike, enjoyed playing carpet ball. Thank you Christ Center and Brett Holiday.

And finally, the actual horses!

One of the important things about trail riding, is the ability of the horses to walk in line, together as a group.

On Wednesday, the chapel was on Flying in Formation and Epona showed a clip from Star Fox. Being part of a team, means following your leader.

Who is Suki following as she chooses her amazing hair styles?

Ah, yes.

On Thursday, they watched a clip from Robots in Disguise, one of the Transformers cartoons . A team is more than meets the eye.

In Robots in Disguise, some of the transformers were Decepticons but had been pardoned by their leader to become a part of Bumble Bee’s team.

The campers learned that only your leader can pardon your past crimes so that you can move forward into a new life.

On Friday, the campers watched a clip from the Zelda game, Age of Calamity.

During a climatic scene, one of the characters dies and is grieved by their friends. Then, during the great battle, the character that we thought was dead revives and rushes into battle to sacrifice themselves so that the great evil can be vanquished.

Then, Epona talked to children who have a ten minute attention span for over an hour about the gospel of Jesus Christ … and they listened the whole time!

Matthew 26:57–“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.”

Luke 23:3–“So Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’

‘Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.”

Luke 23:35–“The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.'”

Luke 23:34–“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

Luke 24:5–“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Luke 24:46–“He told them, ‘This is what is written:

“The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

When we went to our cabins for the discussion time after chapel, one of my campers slipped a piece of paper into my hand. She wanted me to know that she loved Jesus and wanted to follow Him.

Oh, the joy of knowing that at camp we can take the great theological concepts that have baffled the minds of the mightiest thinkers in history and present them to children using story, cartoons, and the power of a toy that changes from a robot to a car … and that God steps in and works His wonders among us. He is still powerful, still loving, still coming down to us to seek and to save what was lost!

Luke 15:3-6–“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'”

Boo Boo

Delbert Elmer Griffith

We saw the end of an era last week. On May 10th 2022, we said goodbye to our camp founder, Del Griffith. After forty-nine years of ministry, at the age of 104, he left us to greet his Lord and the loved ones who went on before him. Yes, even during his last days he was calling up Scruffy to ask how projects were coming along or chatting with the board members about camp. Del and Autumn poured their hearts and souls into Camas Meadows Bible Camp and after Autumn left us, Del continued welcoming guests and taking an active part in camp business.

Born on April 22nd, 1918, Delbert was the third son of George and Rosa Griffith.

He grew up riding his horse, playing tricks on his four brothers and one sister, and even saw the family move via covered wagon during the great depression.

Del with a buddy and one of his brothers. He is on the right in the checkered shirt.

As a young man, he worked hard at many different jobs. Digging potatoes one day, riding the rails another, and even being hired to watch a herd of about 100 pigs on an island in the middle of the Okanogan River.

He did cowboy work, and wore a cowboy hat and boots whether it was cowboy work or not. He worked in the CCC camps, saw the various dams built along the Columbia, and even learned how to hop a train without injury from a friendly hobo.

Del met Autumn Harmon in the early 1940’s. She was seeing another guy at the time and I once asked her why she chose Grandpa Del. She smiled and told me how Delbert would gather up all of the local kids and lead hiking adventures into the hills. “There was no one like Del, he was just wonderful.”

Delbert married Autumn on July 25th, 1942 at the home of Clarence and Lily Snode in Wenatchee, WA. This is the same Lily Snode who would eventually purchase a large meadow and dairy farm up Blewett Pass.

Del and Autumn settled in Lake Side (now part of Chelan). Del was a milkman and Autumn focused on raising their four children (Terry, Sharon, Clint, and my father Greg).

In order to add new families to his route, Del did more than deliver milk, eggs, and ice cream. He would pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy and library books and drop those off at your doorstep as well.

Del put his faith in Jesus Christ later in life, when he was in his 50’s. He and Autumn had property adjacent to Lily Snode up on the Camas land. As Del’s new faith blossomed (he told us all about how his salty language changed overnight) he and Autumn grew certain that they should dedicate twenty acres of their land to the Lord’s use.

Del was about to get out of the dairy business and was wondering what to do with retirement. Unbeknownst to him, Autumn and Greg had been praying for three days about what to do with the Camas Land. Del was on his knees, putting away dairy items when a man walked by and ribbed him about praying. The funny thing, while Del was on his knees to work, he was praying as well. Also, praying about what to do with the land up Camas Meadows. Then it came to him, start a youth camp. When he came home from work, he walked up to Autumn and Greg and said, “You know what we should do with that land?” Autumn told me later that she just knew this would be the answer to her prayers. “Start a youth camp,” he said. And so, they did.

Here, Del is cooking in the current camp kitchen. But in the early days, he cooked in a tiny lean-to attached to the original dining hall. He would pass pancakes through the window to the campers. There were many adventures as they took a stretch of empty land (except for a corral) and built two lodges, three cabins, and brought water and generator power to the buildings. Yes, they started out by using spring water that the campers dipped out of milk cans for a drink. Yes, they all used the same dipper! Del and friends found out how much dynamite was too much when blowing up stumps. And one time, someone stored an old chainsaw in Del’s oven and he didn’t see it before turning on the heat. “That was a mess,” he told me.

Del had a talent for talking folks into work and he put it to good use as they started the camp. He got all of his kids working in one way or another. Whether it was skinning logs for their home when they came up to visit or even signing up to work full-time at the camp, family and friends were put to work whenever they stopped by.

Del and Autumn hosted camps years before their house was finished. They simply lived in a tiny two room cabin in the meadow on weekends as they spent the fourteen years needed to build their home. They ran camp that whole time. Del never let a little thing like not having a house nearby stop him when there was work to be done!

They celebrated many wedding anniversaries at the camp. Del led the work crews and Autumn fed anyone who happened by as they lived a life of service in their log home just a two minute walk from the camp they had founded.

When Del and Autumn dressed up for church or a special occasion, Autumn always had her fancy broach and Del sported a bolo tie.

Here, Del and Autumn celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary. They would celebrate their 75th before Autumn went to be with the Lord.

Del celebrated his 104th birthday in April. Here he is with his son Clint. During Del’s last week with us, he had a long chat with one of our camp board members, quizzed him about the financial report, and shared important information about his vision for camp as it continues into the future.

During his last day with us, Del chose a wedding gift for his great grand daughter. He was busy and determined right to the end. Grandpa Del leaves a legacy of love, service, and hard work for each of us who are missing him today. He loved his family, his friends, and his Lord. He showed that love through determination and the kind of hard work that left everyone else in the dust. We are so blessed that the Lord saw fit to give him 104 years here on earth. Even 104 years is too short a time to spend with those you love.

Isaiah 40:30-31–“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Boo Boo

CamasCon Presents: SamusCon!

Scruffy started CamasCon in 2007 with a dream of bringing Christian gamers (and gamers of all kinds) together for a weekend of fun and fellowship. CamasCon has become an amazing chance for us to prayerfully step into a world were Christ is rarely represented. Gamers of every variety LOVE to get together and play! For years, these retreats have grown and thrived as people travel into the mountains to worship, study the Bible together, … and to play hour upon hour upon countless hour of strategy board games.

While CamasCon is very successful at bringing men together, more than any other kind of camp we’ve run, Scruffy noticed that attendees were almost exclusively male. CamasCon camps filled four slots during the year, but while men continued to enjoy fellowship and boardgames together, very few women attended.

We wondered why this was. Girls love games just as much as boys. I (Boo Boo) was told that boys don’t read fiction and yet all three of our sons devour books. I thought back to when I was at a huge women’s event in Seattle and Scruff wanted to bring me flowers. He tiptoed into an auditorium filled with thousands of women, finally found me, handed over the bouquet and zipped out of there as fast as possible.

How could young women help but see CamasCon as a guys event, when the room was full of 47 guys and 3 girls? If joining an auditorium full of women was daunting for Scruffy, how could we expect girls to give a board gaming camp a try when so few of them were involved?

The problem, Scuffy was also a guy. How could a guy plan a game camp for girls?

By handing off the baton! Scruff talked with Bomber, Epona, Kanga, and Meowth. Our wonderful girl staff took over the planning and took off running with the idea!

They even designed several different posters for the camp! Here is one of them.

The girl staff dubbed the new gaming retreat SamusCon! Named after Samus Aran, the leading lady of the 1986 video game Metroid!

Of course, SamusCon needed all kinds of games and so the girl staff planned a weekend full of board games, table top games, video games, and card games. Even Boo Boo played. Sure, I played badly, but thankfully, no one said that you had to actually be good at games to come!

Yes, while playing Phase 10, it took Boo Boo six tries to make it past Phase 1. However, she found that the sixth time truly was the charm!

Yes, we also played Snorta. Now, I have played Snorta on many occasions. One of the more memorable times was when Scruffy was doing so badly that it caused a small child to burst into tears of deepest sympathy. But none of my previous Snorta experiences was so incredibly LOUD as this one!

Why, you ask?

Well, I trust that a picture does indeed say a thousand words.

Many passionate words were exchanged during this supposedly chill game featuring a variety of farm animals and the noises they make … or could make … or the breakfast foods they remind you of.

The competition was fierce and some (unnamed) people didn’t even give their barn animals easy sounds like: oink, cluck cluck, and heehaw. Oh, no! We had to shout out things like: bacon, breakfast, and waffles!

Plus, when two players were dueling, they had to match these various foods and/or animal noises with the remembered animal that inspired them.

Accusations were made! Animal noises were shouted at terrible decibels! But finally, after some hid in the kitchen to save their ears, a victor was finally chosen.

Needing some time to recover, the SamusCon campers sought out less fierce games for a time.

Although, Mario Cart can get competitive as well …

Epona taught a wonderful game of Above and Below.

One camper went against my shouted warnings not to follow the stranger toward the dark cave … only to battle it out with five rock-wielding villagers and win!

We were all amazed that despite shunning Boo Boo’s sound motherly advice, she was victorious.

The girl staff really worked hard to make this a wonderful weekend.

Of course, Princess Leia Freyja also helped out.

After some practice with Scruffy before the camp, I (Boo Boo) was even able to teach a game! This is actually my very own Scooby Doo mystery game and I got to teach three people how to play with me.

I know this doesn’t look all that complex, but teaching something is totally different than simply playing it!

Despite many trials, Scoob and his friends thwarted the jewel thief and meddled until the criminals were unmasked!

Many games were played. Here, you can see a finished map for Cartographers.

We had an amazing discussion time about a Bible passage together on Sunday.

And took many, many goofy photos!

So there you have it, the very first SamusCon Girl’s Game Retreat!

Galatians 3:26-29

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Boo Boo

Junior High Winter Blast!

The first weekend in March is special. This is when we host our Junior High Winter Blast!

In 2020, Junior High Winter Blast was the last camp we ran before everything shut down. It was such a rambunctious time of laughter, fun, and learning about God together. Then we faced the heartbreak and pain of a long, quiet year without camps. That last Junior High Winter Blast was such an important reminder to us. It helped us remember the joy of serving God in a camp setting. To be faithful to God’s call, even though what He asked of us was so very hard. To continue striving after Him, no matter what that looked like.

Now, we have come full circle. A spring, summer, winter, fall, and another spring where we were able to host individual families, but not camps. An amazing summer of ministry. Yes that summer did include a whole lot of hoops to jump through, but it was so worth it. A delightful winter of hosting rental camps that wrapped up with us finally being able to run Junior High Winter blast once again!

It is so good to walk out of the desert for a moment and breath in the fresh air of victory! Yes, our walk with God travels some tough places, shadowed paths, and confusing seasons. God is just as close in the darkness.

However, the joyful craziness of Junior High Winter Blast provided an important time to celebrate, to remember that God also blesses us beyond what we deserve or can even imagine.

Hmmm … so what does one do at Junior High Winter Blast?

There is the all-important game … Oreo Face!

You guessed it. One must open an Oreo cookie and stick it to one’s forehead. Then through vigorous facial contortions, scooch that Oreo down to one’s mouth for eating! The first to eat their cookie wins!

There really are not enough times in life where one sticks a cookie to their head and makes faces to the acclaim of their peers. Perhaps our days would be a little more sweet, if adults adopted this practice! Office dispute, no problem! Oreo Face to the rescue.

Of course, not every activity can involve cookies.

What is winter camp without the famous Camas tube hill?

The answer well could be, “Less painful.”

It is very important to pace yourself as you charge into outdoor activities. A bit of adventure on the tube hill … followed by a mug of cocoa in front of the fire.

But the comfort of indoor activities can only take you so far. To build those truly memorable moments for sharing with your family and friends when you get home …

Means that campers rushed back to the great outdoors!

Then they recovered in the camp lodge with a fun board game.

And zoomed back outside!

Then back inside for building tornado-like-structures with Princess Leia Freyja!

Feast your eyes on this masterpiece, my friends.

Then remember that Radiant and Polaris built this Kapla block structure in a room teeming with exuberant middle school campers, staff, and even a 113lb dog.

Then, once the Kapla Tornado had stood victorious for some time … the campers played ultimate Janga, bringing the whole thing crashing down in epic fashion!

But not everything at camp is silly, for example, chapel time!

Well, I suppose there are one or two goofy songs. But then we get to the message …

Ha! I had you there. If you have ever gone to camp or served at camp, you will know that God uses absolutely everything for His glory! Even those things that at first glance, might just appear somewhat silly. Why are campers ready to raise their hands in quiet worship with their cabin? Because they have just been running around the room flapping their arms with that same group of kids singing “I’ll Fly Away.”

Why do campers listen during chapel, ask questions about God, and actually remember some of the things that they learned? Well, besides all of our many desperate prayers, camp speakers are special. They know and love kids and work hard to present the scripture in a way that children can gobble up.

This weekend the chapel sessions were just so amazing! I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time and they held my attention just as skillfully for me as for all those rowdy kids. Epona is a big fan of the Transformers shows and comics. There are a lot of different versions of the Transformers but one thing is consistent, Optimus Prime. The same actor has provided the voice from 1984 to the present and Optimus Prime has always been “Strong Enough to be Gentle.”

The joy just kept piling on higher and higher as we watched campers having a blast, meeting friends, and playing in the snow. But seeking God together during chapel was definitely one of the best things about this camp.

The more Epona has enjoyed Transformers over the years, the more it struck her that Optimus Prime reminded her of our heavenly father in a myriad of ways. Optimus Prime’s name literally means the best of the best–Exodus 15:11. Like God, Optimus Prime is a mighty warrior–Jeremiah 20:11, Exodus 14:14 and 15:3, 2 Chronicles 32:1-22. Optimus Prime protects, sacrifices himself for, and gently cares for the Autobots. He shepherds them. Ezekiel 34:1-16 (that passage made me weep as we read it again), Psalm 100:3, John 10:1-18 and 27-30. Just like both the old and new testaments use an image of a shepherd to show us what God is like, a simple children’s cartoon can be used to show just a glimpse of God’s power, gentleness, and love.

Just as Optimus Prime is always there, showing up with strength and caring when the Autobots need him, God is always there. Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 94:18-19, Matthew 11:28-30, Matthew 28:16-20. There are dark moments in the Transformers cartoon, tragedy strikes, friends are lost, evil appears to win. But Optimus Prime is always there, standing strong with those he loves. These beautiful campers were so attentive (I know, gasp!) as they heard again and again that God is strong, caring, and there to save them and make them His own. What an amazing weekend to be a part of!

Ezekiel 34:11-12

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”

Boo Boo

Senior High Winter Camp

It was a delight to run our Senior High Winter camp once again!

We worshiped with both crazy fast songs that had equally-crazy hand motions and those sweet thoughtful melodies that always make me weep.

Doing chapel again with our wonderful senior high campers next to the warm fire on a cold winter day was incredible.

Our camp speaker, Van Helsing, talked about … doing the hand motions for “Pharaoh Pharaoh?”

Ah, there we go. Van Helsing talked about who God is. God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. Plus, how does who They are affect who we are?

Besides speaking, Van Helsing also engaged in many other fun activities.

Including whatever is happening in the photo below. We are not sure … but it definitely looks loud!

We enjoyed delicious food cooked for us by the amazing Kanga!

Yes, playing with your plate is much much more mature than playing with your food … in case you were wondering.

But the campers didn’t just stay inside singing and walking around with plates on their heads!

Oh, no! They ventured into the great outdoors with much gusto!

Hikes through the crunchy snow gave everyone both breathtaking views at Inspiration Point …

… and an opportunity for an epic snowball fight!

Attack!!!

Don’t worry, this camper was smiling in the very next photo.

See, I told you he survived!

Many snowballs flew and much laughter filled the mountain air.

The sunshine came out and melted our icy snow just enough so that it packed well and didn’t hurt when hurled through the air at speed.

The fun continued with various attacks.

Both success and failure was fun and hilarious!

Epona, enjoying the camper’s antics.

A camper, enjoying producing those antics!

After invigorating outdoor activities, it was fun to just hang out with friends in the lodge.

Curling up by the fire with a mug of cocoa was a must.

Or, if you are Princess Leia Freyja, just curling up by the fire. Not that she would turn down a mug of cocoa.

The campers had a chance to play some strategy board games once they got tired and cold from outdoor play.

Plus, the chance to make friends with the camp dog.

More outside time was enjoyed with both sledding and then tubing on the terrifying tube hill!

And inside for dog snuggles!

Kanga made these adorable mini pancakes just for Epona! Good things come in small (but mighty) packages.

And then there was hockey!

The senior high campers were especially fond of hockey!

In fact, so was Princess Leia Freyja! She knew exactly how the game was played. Leap in with all four paws and grab the puck. Then run fast to keep it away from everyone else!

Even watching hockey was fun.

Many bumps, bruises, and sore muscles later … victory finally came!

What a weekend! So there you have it: tubing, sledding, snowball fights, hockey, friends, warm crackling fires, snuggly dogs, yummy food, board games, worship, thoughtful chapels, and finally … time to say goodbye.

Fear not! There are more camps coming your way. Stay tuned to hear about Spring Break Survival Camp, CamasCon, Ladies Retreat, Summer Camps, and more!

Boo Boo

Summer Staff Winter Retreat

The day after Christmas marked a beautiful milestone at Camas Meadows Bible Camp.

The first winter camp since March of 2019.

Campers hiked up to Inspiration Point to see the sunrise (only arriving slightly late, ha!) and trekked up the tube hill to zoom down the mountain in a splash of powder. Clearly Scruffy enjoyed his tube run with Boo Boo!

To warm up, we gathered in the camp lodge for board games, time to chat with friends, snuggle the camp dog, and enjoy an epic game of King Elephant.

Princess Leia Freyja was sure that the campers had arrived just to give her pats and treats.

In her defense, there was enough dog snuggling, petting, and treat giving to confuse any canine about the purpose of the camp.

Summer Staff Winter Retreat is unique. It is a chance for counsel staff, support staff, and anyone considering training to be staff next summer to enjoy being campers together.

Exploring God’s beautiful creation is an important part of this four-day camp.

Since the temperatures reached a low of -3 and a high of -1 on the first day and hovered around that zone much of the time, those moments of nature appreciation were spent in quick sprints rather than meandering strolls.

After our mad dashes out of doors, there were plenty of games to play in the lodge near the crackling fire.

Snow angels and a chilly zip down the tube hill.

Then a game of couch …

… and constructing gingerbread houses!

The gingerbread couch

Some gingerbread houses were more detailed … and terrifying than others.

Below, the classic and creepy story of Hansel and Gretel meets both Shrek and the French revolution!

And once our toes thawed … it was back outside again!

But this retreat is also a chance to come together as followers of Jesus and reflect on and talk about His call and what He asks of us in His word.

This year, we focused on the gospels. Watching episodes of The Chosen together, reading scripture, and discussing what it means to follow where Jesus asks us to go.

Like our dawn hike to Inspiration Point, following our Lord is often both harder than expected and even more beautiful. In what ways have you found God’s call more than you expected?

Isaiah 43:1–But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

The Masks We Wear

Middle School Camp 2

One of the things I love about photographing camp adventures is capturing the beauty of campers as they relax, have fun, make new friends, and learn about God’s love for them.

On the first day, campers are a bit nervous. Their expressions are careful when I photograph them playing the get-to-know-you game. Their actions are cautious as they take in this strange new environment called Camas Meadows Bible Camp. But given a day with their cabin, campers’ joyous goofiness is revealed. So beautiful!

Perhaps this is part of why we as a people both hate masks and yet can be so quick to create masks for ourselves.

Faramir, our speaker for middle school 2, talked during chapel about the masks we wear.

As controversy rages about masking for healthcare purposes, we’re nonetheless prone to cling to the masks of our own making with grim determination.

Are we the smart kid, the beautiful one, the science nerd, the athlete, the drama star?

That’s fine, but what if we are more than one thing?

What does the beautiful one do if she also loves science, computer games, and Jesus?

What does the athlete do if he also loves baking, back packing, and Bible study?

You would think these amazing and complex individuals would simply trust the Lord who made them and rest in the fact that they are deeply loved by the one who died just for them.

But even we as adults sometimes fall to the same temptation.

What do adults do at work, at their kids’ school, when they walk into a board game convention, or at a church potluck?

All too often, we hide behind the exact same things as our children. When stepping into a group of people, we put on a mask.

When we are at work, that “super responsible employee” mask slips over our faces.

Volunteering at Jog-A-Thon at our kids’ school … well, the “perfect parent mask” takes over.

At a sporting event? Yeah, it’s easy to let the “passionate fan” mask slide into place. Or even the “telling the refs and players how stupid they are” mask or that pesky “I never swear with church friends but football is serious business” mask.

Therein lies the problem. The masks we wear don’t always play nicely together. Sometimes they appear to represent completely different people with a completely different set of values.

Is it any wonder our children do the same?

But while the “Christian kid” mask at youth group, the “chess club champion” mask at school, and the “his dad never counts the bottles” mask that get a child invited to friends’ houses appear to make them blend right in with each group they encounter, God is concerned about deeper things.

He sees past the healthcare masks we argue about, past those invisible masks we snatch up on purpose, and looks upon the person we really are deep down inside.

Man looks at the outward appearance (whether physical or relational or completely made up) but God is different. God looks at the heart.

That is what I love about the freedom found in Christ.

I am constantly delighted as I discover the same kind of beauty while taking pictures for camp.

I start out capturing one thing and slowly, as the week marches on, I end up seeing something completely different come into focus.

Yes, camp is about paintball, horseback rides, and celebrating your birthday with a tea party in the meadow.

Camp involves fake mustaches, water fights, and working together to TP every single cabin in a scramble of less-than-stealthy rowdiness that is sure to reveal who the culprit is.

But as the campers live all these crazy moments together, the masks begin to slip and the real person starts to shine through.

Amazingly, this happens when indoors with facemasks in place as well as out of doors when the face masks are shoved into pockets or hung nonchalantly over one ear.

Because it is that pile of invisible masks that are causing the most trouble. These masks are the ones keeping us from being honest with ourselves, others, and our Lord.

Faramir pointed out how difficult it is to experience our new life in Christ when all we are offering God is our “church kid” mask instead of our very selves.

How can we be light and salt in a world full of hurt when we pull on a new mask for every situation? How can we be different, be like Jesus, if we are simply blending in?

At least two campers chose to give their lives to Christ this week and many more made renewed commitments to follow Jesus in honesty and truth.

Why?

Because what we as adults can find so difficult to recognize, these children understand.

It is not the mask that is priceless, beloved, and precious in the sight of God.

It is the person.

The actual person is the one who can live and love and choose in whose steps they will follow.

God is calling to the person, not their many masks.

Clearly, the campers relished in this new knowledge as we had many mask and hat themed skits illustrating Faramir’s talks.

From epic battles between beard and hat wearing fighters …

… to the adventures of “Good Child” and “Churchy Person” as she tried to navigate life clinging to all of her masks.

The skits were both hilarious and thought-provoking.

And also, strange. We dare not forget strange. Sometimes the mask was a shark head monster that inexplicably appeared in an insane Scooby Do adventure.

Clearly, the shark head mask was far more dangerous than we even imagined!

But whatever props they used, the campers illustrated this truth again and again.

Jesus is calling to the real you.

He is longing to rescue the actual person you are, not everything you pretend to be.

Yeah, we have reasons for the masks that we wear.

Being honest with ourselves is hard.

It’s harder still to be honest with the many different people who share our world.

If we are honest, we will never quite fit in.

Some will judge us. Some will shame us. Some will discount us as unimportant and not worth their time.

But these people, they are not our judge.

We have one judge whose decision counts. One judge and He is the one who made the heavens, the earth, and all that is contained within them … including you, including me.

That judge, well, He is the one who made Himself poor so that we could be rich.

He is the one who suffered so that we could rejoice.

He is the one who was raised so that each of us can choose to be raised with Him.

And yes, He is the one who died so that though we die, in Him, we can truly live.

And how can this glorious transformation occur without being truly honest with our Lord, trusting in His love for us just as we are, and believing in His power to grow us into everything that we were made to become?

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Boo Boo

Image of God: you’ve got gray hair!

Junior B Camp 2021

“Do angels have a hometown or do they just live on clouds without a bathroom?”

“How do I know God is good, if He has never done anything good for me?”

Welcome to the crazy-beautiful gathering of insanity that is Junior Camp!

These camper’s questions give some clues about how they (and we) see God, but how does God see us? The speaker this week taught on images, specifically how we were made to be image bearers. But first, let’s jump into what camp is like with this amazing age group!

Junior campers are joyful, undignified, a bit unhinged. They are a delightful cacophony of questions and wrestling, singing and screaming, leaping and napping, water fighting and praying, weeping and laughing, all rolled up with pure joy and faith and so much hope.

For the youngest of them, it is a giant spiritual leap to raise their hand during cabin discussion and ask why God created dinosaurs, violence, and poison ivy (yes, the counselor had an exciting time trying to answer these delightful little ones). For the oldest junior campers, they are mulling the kind of soul-deep concerns that trouble and stump adults.

As you might have guessed, that first question was asked in a cabin of nine-year-old’s and the second was from a cabin of twelve-year-old’s. Each query is vital as these little ones dip their toes in spiritual waters and consider a relationship with their Creator.

This age group is about a lot more than just crazy questions. They also make bold and interesting statements. Our speaker for Junior B was The Mom, mother of eight and a campus missionary with Cru. This week she was talking about how we are made in the image of God.

She used Legos and a $10 coupon to the camp store to illustrate the idea of being image bearers. Wanting to impress on these beautiful children the fact that just because we are broken images doesn’t mean that we have lost our value, The Mom took that $10 coupon and crumpled it, tore it up, and stomped on it. Then she gave it to a camper who was celebrating his birthday that week. “Will he still be able to get $10 of stuff from the camp store?” she asked.

The Mom gave a water bottle sticker to every camper and counselor.

“Yes!” The campers knew that the coupon still retained its value, even after so many difficult times, and so did they.

Junior campers are so very funny. At one point The Mom mentioned that she was pretty old. One camper spoke up immediately at this point. “Yeah,” he shouted, “your hair is gray!” I was sitting behind their cabin and this young man’s cousin was in front of me with his head in his hands. “Please don’t ask how old she is,” he whispered to himself.

“How old are you?” he yelled in a clear, strong voice.

But you know what? It was a perfect illustration of how our value doesn’t come from our age or our hair color. We are God’s image bearers and are priceless to him. When the speaker asked if anyone knew Philippians 4:8 that same camper took a deep deep breath and shouted out the scripture word for word. Weather we are precocious or quiet, we are so very precious in God’s sight.

Camp is important in so many ways. It isn’t just the chapel sessions that help children stretch and grow.

Having an adventure away from home for a whole week is an amazing accomplishment for kids this age. One of our guy counselors said that his favorite thing about the whole week was watching a camper who was homesick talk to his mom on the phone and then decide to stick it out for the rest of the week. By Saturday, this young man had gone from not being sure he would make it through the week to standing up at the Friday night sharing time and saying how much he loved camp. It is such an honor to watch children grow in strength and independence.

Camp is also a great time to try something totally new.

Who knows but that you might be a Ga-Ga Ball champion!

You will never know if you never try.

Some of these girls found out that they were incredibly talented at Ga-Ga Ball and some that it was something hilarious to do with a cabin full of girls who would soon become friends.

By the time this game was over, all were dusty, exhausted, and smiling.

Here, Princess Leia Freyja has strategically positioned herself between the girls playing Ga-Ga Ball and the boys playing Ultimate Mountain Croquet so that she can encourage one and all and of course get the maximum number of gentle pats!

These pictures were taken from the day that campers did, The Gauntlet!

No, this is not as terrifying as it sounds. Each cabin spends a set amount of time at an activity and then moves on to try another.

The campers go from disc golf, to archery, to mini golf, and finally Ga-Ga Ball as a cabin. Not only does this introduce them to some of the different activities that are available for the week, but it also helps them to bond as a cabin and make new friends.

The cabin who accidentally sends all their frisbees way way way off into the forest and then must spend an eternity crashing through the underbrush together looking for them together … stays together!

Of course the beautiful thing about doing an activity with your cabin is that one need not be fabulous at mini golf or croquet to have fun! This camper and her counselor are using the frisbees as fans.

After The Gauntlet on Tuesday came Pond Day on Wednesday!

These girls know how to leap into an activity with gusto!

While we certainly missed being able to travel to Lake Chelan, it was a delight to watch the campers enjoying the pond.

Weather it was jumping from the dock or taking a kayak out for a swim, this was a great way to cool off.

Everyone spent the long, hot afternoon getting exhausted at the pond before returning to camp for showers and a movie.

Thursday was horse day!

Campers got the chance to go on a trail ride with their cabin.

It was so fun to watch each child meet their horse before setting out on a ride.

You never know how God plans to use you during any given camp. I found myself going into a cabin discussion thinking that the Lord would use me to give a pair of very tired counselors a break or perhaps to have a profound theological discussion with this group of campers. What did God use me for? To make those counselors burst into uncontrollable laughter, of course. Apparently, I was the Lord’s comic relief as He worked within that cabin in very mysterious ways.

Laughter is good medicine and so I guess I won’t argue with God and ask for a different assignment. You see, this cabin was asking really tough questions. To let those counselors have a much-needed rest, Bomber and I took on one of their cabin discussions.

The campers were confused to see us. “Where are our counselors? We have LOTS of questions!” they said.

When I explained that we would love to discuss all their questions, these girls had an answer for us right away!

“No, we’ll wait for them. All of our questions are for our counselors.”

Instead of a deep theological discussion, the campers ate cookies, rolled around on the floor sticking their feet in the air, and talked about the camp dog. We did have a good prayer time and shared stories about those who have sacrificed for us and times we have sacrificed for others. But our discussion wasn’t anything like what I expected.

When I met those two counselors on the path after their rest, I explained that apparently their cabin had bonded with them more than they thought. They saved ALL their questions just for them!

The weary counselors bust into laughter. They laughed and laughed and laughed. They tried to stop but instead laughed some more. They stared at me and stared at each other and couldn’t stop laughing. It was very clear that God had not called me to help with the great spiritual questions of the world, but to remind two amazing young women that God had given them exactly what He needed to work in the lives of these highly inquisitive girls.

From watching the whole camp try to tell a pair of identical twins apart to having a cabin discussion that was so incredibly rowdy and loud (lots of wrestling occurred) that the neighboring cabin (one that was on a separate hill) came over to check on them and make sure they were all alive, the counselors had many favorite moments from this week.

One favorite moment was having a perplexed camper at the mini golf course ask, “What size are normal golf balls?”

“These are normal golf balls,” I explained.

“But they said this was mini golf!” the camper said.

Some of our favorite moments are things that we find out later, after camp.

When a camper had to go home a day early, it was so hard to say goodbye. Later, her mother wrote a note that amazed us. Apparently, this young woman had decided that she didn’t want to go to camps anymore after having a bad experience when she was younger.

Then camp wasn’t even an option in 2020. When the summer of 2021 rolled around, this mom started searching for a camp that was open and found us. She talked her daughter into giving camp one more try. This camper never shared her concerns about being here, she simply decided to give us a chance and jumped into the week, hoping that all would go well.

Her mom wrote that she loved her time at camp and was already talking about coming back next year. Although we had no idea that this camper was coming reluctantly, it was such a beautiful thing to be a part of her journey as she took a risk and learned to love camp again.

You never know what kids are going through behind the scenes.

The camp speaker touched on this when she talked about broken images. Each of us is made in the image of God, we were lovingly crafted and reflect something important about our Creator.

But the world we live in is hard. It is packed full of people who are making their own choices and sometimes we wake up battered and bruised. Whether it was something a parent or friend did or one of our own foolish mistakes, there will come a day when we look at ourselves and doubt that we carry God’s image at all. We don’t see it. What we do see is pain, struggle, suffering, and shame.

But what does God see?

A precious person, made to be like Him. A person He longs to welcome home as His child. A person that He sent His son to rescue. A person He is waiting for, like the father in Jesus’ parable who was waiting for his angry young son to finally come home.

God is like that. He is the worried shepherd who notices that one sheep is missing. He is the woman searching her house for that single, valuable coin. He is the broken-hearted father watching His son storm out of the house. He is waiting for us to take a step on the road back toward Him so that he can rush out to meet us. He longs for that moment when He can pull us into His arms.

Luke 15:20–“So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

I was in the meadow at dusk, watching the campers sing “I’ll Fly Away.” They used the entire meadow. The worship leaders were back at the fire pit but the campers had flown.

The motions for this song involve spreading your arms like wings and rushing around the room. The campers flung their arms wide and zoomed all the way to the end of the mowed grass in the meadow. They were just little dots in the distance flying and flying and flying.

Camp is a raucous affair.

Whether it was the identical twins “multiplying” in their skit on the story of creation, the Squirrel Cabin’s skit that was so unintentionally funny that Scruffy literally wept with laughter, or the fact that a camper was actually injured while doing the motions to a song (yep, he tripped on a root while “flying away” landed on a bench and hurt his leg), the camp experience is undeniably rowdy.

Trauma Trooper, the camp nurse, actually quantified some of this. She treated eight bloody noses, used nineteen icepacks, twenty-three Band-Aids, treated twelve lumps and bumps, nine bites; stings; and rashes, and had five instances of vommiting.

But even amidst all this rowdiness, or perhaps because of it, God’s message rang clean and clear.

You are made in the image of God. Nothing can change that.

No amount of pain, injustice, sin, or destruction can alter the fact that you are made in God’s image.

No force on earth can reduce your value and even more than this, God wants you as His very own.

Rush into His arms child.

Come on home.

Luke 15:5-6–“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

Boo Boo

P.S. To preserve their anonymity, I do not place an individual camper’s picture above their story.