Summer Staff Winter Retreat–2018

A fresh snow just in time for the Summer Staff Winter Retreat

The Summer Staff Winter Retreat is one of our most unique and needed camps of the year.

All summer, our staff are required to be mature and focused on the needs of the campers.

They cannot simply hang out with each other when there are kids to chase, slip-n-slides to zip down, the dunk tank and devotional times to run, and night games to supervise.

All during this intense time of summer ministry, whenever Scruffy catches a tired counselor chatting with a fellow staff member instead of supervising the low ropes course or doing crafts with a camper, he tells them the same thing.

“Wait until the Summer Staff Winter Retreat. Then you can hang out together as much as you like.”

And they do! This is their time to simply be together. Summer Staff Winter Retreat is vital to the health and vitality of our amazing volunteers who give their time, sleep, and whole hearts to serving kids all summer.

This is their chance to be the campers and to be served by us instead of pouring themselves out in service.

From teens who hope to become C.I.T.s next summer to counselors with many years of experience, this is their chance to fill up on both fun times together and to be replenished by delving into God’s word as students rather than leaders.

So while at first glance this camp simply looks like a bunch of teens and twenty-somethings (and a few seasoned veterans) escaping to the mountains to have Nerf wars, do puzzles and crafts, play board games, and go sledding. It is in reality so much more than that!

That crazy teen racing through the lodge with the Nerf gun is the same one who sacrificed his sleep this summer to wash your son’s sleeping bag at 5:00 am after an accident. None of the other campers ever knew and your little guy just jumped right into the rest of camp, knowing that his counselor would take care of things.

That girl making bookmarks or attempting to beat Scruffy at another board game is the same one who held your daughter’s hand when she was scared at night and prayed over her as she fell asleep.

That screaming teen mattress sledding, just might be the same one who listened carefully and then answered just as carefully when your middle school son broke the silence in discussion time with: “I know I want Jesus, but I don’t know what salvation is.” (See Middle School Camp 1 Blog)

Part of the reason they can buckle down and serve with their whole hearts in the summer is that these unassuming young people have become an incredible team.

And one of the ways that they grow into a team, ready and able to accomplish real kingdom work, is by playing and praying, singing and chatting, sliding and sledding, studying and roughhousing together at Summer Staff Winter Retreat.

So what about You? Would you consider investing in the ministry at Camas Meadows Bible Camp by joining the team as a Summer Staff Winter Retreat camper and then if you feel called, a summer camp counselor?

Matthew 9:36-38–“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 3Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

145th Celebration

Camas Meadows Bible Camp has been around for 45 years and our founder Del Griffith for even longer! He just celebrated his 100th birthday on April 22nd. Such illustrious milestones demanded a bit of a party and so that was what we were up to last weekend.

So we gathered at the camp on May 12th. Campers, board members, counselors, cooks, nurses, speakers … those who love Camas Meadows and wished to celebrate with Del traveled up that twisting mountain road for a bite of cake and a time of reminiscing. 

It was a gorgeous spring day with scattered wildflowers blooming and the scent of new forest growth on the wind.

Camp people young and old packed the lodge to hear stories about the camp’s beginning years as well as a few of Del’s own tales.

It was a time to visit with good friends from the past and discover new folks with a connection to the camp or to Del. Looking out across the room was such a reminder of all the people Del and Autumn have blessed through the years.

A camp intern, counselor, and speaker sat on the couch … it sounds like the start of a joke, but they actually behaved pretty well. Yes, I’m talking about you Warhammer!

Once the beautiful cake was eaten and the many tales of camp adventures come and gone had run their course, everyone said goodbye and walked beneath the new sign placed at the entryway in Del and Autumn’s honor.

In 1973, Del and Autumn stepped out in faith and turned a crazy dream into reality. Forty-five years later, God’s work is still going on in this quiet mountain meadow tucked back into the forest. It was a delight to have the chance to thank Del for his lifetime of service and celebrate a monumental birthday together. May what they started continue for many years to come.

 

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

 

Rhyme and Rhythm

 

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I was sitting in church the other day, listening to the worship music, when something occurred to me. That particular song had a sense of dissonance and clash that instantly turned the heart over, reminding me what it feels like to hurt and bleed and be in pain. But a gentle melody threaded its way through, giving a strand of hope within the dark. That song was such a picture of life. A glimpse of God’s story within our world.

The power of music, of art in all its forms. . . I think it is the rhyme and rhythm within the wild ache and clash of sound that draws us. The sense within the senselessness, the plot and story and balance of an artistic piece, the steady beat amidst all the bloodshed of life.

When there is dissonance in a song, I feel the reality of it. The terrible realness of all that surrounds us. But as the music flows together into something that makes sense, hope rises within me. It is the same for story. So much opposition is thrown up against the main character that the reader is sure life will squelch him in an arbitrary wash of senseless trouble and toil. But then there is that glimmer, that “for such a time as this” moment. The reader and the hero both realize that life is not a senseless tangle of horror. That they are where they stand for a reason. When a story finally wraps up, with all the threads untangled and the hero facing down the horror of his situation and becoming more than what he was before, it thrills the heart.

For isn’t that the ache in every heart? The longing to matter. Sometimes this world looks like a terrible mass of writhing destruction. War, enslavement, torture, destruction, tears. There are so many examples in the news and within the angry depths of our very own hearts that I shudder. And yet . . . I look outside and see a thick curtain and snow, drifting down in gentle perfection. Each flake a delicate work of art, unique and yet the same. Trees stretch out their limbs, soaking in the sun’s power and purifying the air around us. My children learn and grow, taller and more complicated every day. People change and forgive and move on to become more than anyone thought they could become. In real life, not just in the stories. 

There is a thread of reason within the terrible weight of darkness. There is God. Creator, Conqueror, Father, Friend. One who molds and makes the sensible order that flows all around us. One who chose to step down into our chaos and carve out a path to freedom. 

Isaiah 9:2–“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Isn’t this why the heart lifts when we hear a song, gaze upon a powerful painting, or fall into the pages of a book? The clash and bruising of reality in art pulls you forward, but the thread of hope in that one elegant strand of order frees the heart and makes us hope. We hope that we too are more than we appear, that there is a happy ending somewhere through the darkness that requires us to take that next terrible step forward.

God speaks to us in so many ways. I am so glad that He stirred the human soul to sing and paint and write and dance, to be like Him, to create. His story is all about us, if only we are willing to pause and to see.

 

Boo Boo

Summer Staff Winter Retreat

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This last weekend was our annual Summer Staff Winter Retreat. A weekend where the camp counselors and other camp staff (both old veterans and new recruits) get to be the campers. It is a camp where they do not bear the weight of caring for the needs of campers, but get to rest and hang out and grow in the Lord in the quiet beauty of His creation. Of course it is not always quiet, but the joyful tumult can be refreshing as well.

We had a beautiful heap of fresh snowfall and lovely weather for tubing and outdoor activities. There were many board games played and quiet moments in the lodge as well. Ian (Faramir) Ross was the speaker and his word for the weekend was “Parched.” The woman at the well was one of his examples of our deep and abiding need to be quenched by the ministrations of the Holy Spirit rather than the remedies that we can find in this fallen world. 

I spent my time writing on the camp couch while I observed our three boys zipping around through the counselors in a rowdy pack. Occasionally, counselors would join me. I was able to interview one of them about the weekend, what it meant to her, why she came.

She told me about how busy the winter months are, with school and running start, deadlines and due dates, home issues and the things you have to deal with every day. Things just pile up on top of each other, especially during the Holiday season. But camp was an escape for her, an opportunity to take a pause from the turmoil and strain.

“Camp regenerates you,” she said.

I understand what she means. Watching the snow drift down in a steady, silent, cloak across the forest. Listening to the campers laughing as they sat hunched over a board game or their screams of terror on the tube hill as they rushed down the slope clutching a tube for dear life. Hearing them sing in the soft light of the lodge at night, accompanied by acoustic guitar. Raising their hands, closing their eyes, lifting their voices as one before the Lord. It was lovely, peaceful. A time to take in a great gulp and air and pause. A time to notice God and seek Him, ignoring the bustle and push, resting in His power and love.

What about you? Do you take the time to pause, to rest and seek and be restored? It was a pleasure to see God at work, with nothing but a handful of teens and the blinding glory of His creation all around us. As ever, that is enough for God. He doesn’t need much to do great things.

 

Boo Boo

 

Renovations

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Here at Camas Meadows we are incredibly blessed. There are so many amazing people who simply love the camp and that love overflows in fabulous projects like this. The porch on Squirrel Cabin has been in need of replacement for some time. Built in the 70s that porch has weathered rowdy boy campers and actual weather alike, but had come to its last leg after many years of faithful service. The problem, camp did not have the funds for such a project. But out of the blue, one of our counselor parents, stepped in and made this beautiful renovation of Squirrel cabin possible. John and Sue Torrence’s three children are no longer campers or counselors, and yet Camas has remained in this family’s heart. Clint Griffith milled the lumber and then John came up to camp, day after day (even on Sue’s birthday…thank you Sue!) and built the porch, by himself, as a labor of love. But that’s not all.

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Many of you have enjoyed being doused with water in the camp’s aging dunk tank. That much-loved feature finally passed on last year. Above is our brand new dunk tank, designed and built once again, by John Torrence. A clear plastic liner will allow campers to enjoy each dunking, even after the dunkee is submerged! Thank you so very much! We could not do this without you and realize that we are beyond a doubt, incredibly blessed.

 

Boo Boo

Larry and Dee: Our Camp Hard Hats

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This year Camas Meadows has experienced and unexpected blessing. For the first time ever, we have the honor of hosting a couple from Hard Hats For Christ. Larry and Dee (and Bootsie too) will be staying up at the camp for two whole months to help us out with all of those improvement projects that really need to get done but never seem to be finished because there is always something more pressing. This is their fourth year with Hard Hats for Christ and we are the fifth camp that they have helped out. Larry and Dee started searching for a way to serve the Lord in their “retirement” and after investigating several different organizations everything just fell together miraculously for them to work for Hard Hats. Their paperwork was rushed through in record time and then someone traded in a beautiful RV at Larry’s workplace that was offered to them for a wonderful price. Bim Bam Boom and they were on their way. Larry is starting out the summer working on railings for the bunk beds in the cabins and counters and shelving for our camp work shop so that we can actually organize our tools and find them again. So there you have it. Meet Larry and Dee, a surprise blessing this summer and a part of our summer camp crew.

Spring CamasCon Update

CamasCon is a very strange and lovely creature. Like a hippogriff. It is hard to describe, but is amazing all the same. Did you ever watch Cheers? I didn’t. I was of a tender age at the time that it was running and my parents didn’t allow. But I know the theme song and caught a few episodes here and there. CamasCon is a little bit like the bar in Cheers, a safe place, where everyone knows your name. Sing it with me now… So, a hippogriff, a run down Chicago bar, am I confusing you yet?

There is no alcohol at CamasCon and no magical flesh-eating horse-birds. But what we do have is a unique camp that welcomes a wide variety of people who have one thing in common, they love to game. 

And that is how CamasCon has campers who are in their late 60’s and campers who are gradeschoolers. Campers who are in full-time Christian ministry and campers who are atheists. Campers who play deeply contemplative Euro games and campers who will only play if there is a superhero, an elf, or some kind of ship from Star Wars on the box.

Watching the campers at CamasCon this last week gave me an eureka moment concerning ministry.

Sometimes we think that it is our message that frightens the non-believers in our lives away. I realized that this is simply not so. Jon (Crush) Johansen provided three solid and challenging Christian chapel sessions last weekend. He did not mince words. Did those in the crowd who weren’t sure about God or who straight-up didn’t believe leave camp? Nope, after chapel they played games with Jon and ate snacks and held animated debates and played more games.

We don’t always get notes of encouragement from campers. It is an occasional blessing that we hold dear. But do you know who does send Scruff encouraging notes? Both of the regular attenders who are atheists. They rarely miss a CamasCon, and have both written their thanks, for providing a place where they belong.

I learned something this week. Service, ministry, the great things of God…they look like chapel sessions and open Bibles and bowing the head before meals. But they also look like laughter and inclusion and being willing to actually listen to someone else’s opinion with respect. Much ministry went on at CamasCon. Jon heard stories about people who found freedom from sin, people who learned how to relate to their family, people who had changed since he’d spoken to them last. But the quieter, gentler ministry cannot be forgotten. Good food cooked with a smile, a lively conversation in which you can participate without fear, respect and consideration from the people around you, knowing that you are in a place where you are loved. I am challenged by the realization that people may not hear the amazing message of Christ’s love for them if the gentle ministry of love and graciousness does not accompany it.

So yes, CamasCon went well. Many games were played, many snacks were eaten, very little sleep occurred and I for one went away having learned something valuable.

 

Boo Boo

The Final Frontier

If you are a Trekkie like me, you will know exactly what I’m talking about in the title of this post. Space! It is the final frontier and a particularly amazing collection of galaxies and stars and planets and quasars and asteroids and comets and…things. 

I read an article about space this week that made me think of camp.

You doubt?

Well, it was actually two articles. One by Eric Metaxas in the Wall Street Journal about the signs of intelligent design in the universe and a letter to the editor by Lawrence Krauss saying that Metaxas was all wrong. Now I myself really don’t care whether there is other intelligent life in the universe. Let me amend that, my twelve-year-old self cared very much. I intended to marry Spock and if the universe didn’t cough up some Vulcans real soon I was going to be out of luck. But Vulcans aside, whether or not God created other habitable worlds, my faith in Him is not shaken. So why read these two articles and why in the world did they make me think of camp?

Most campers live in a town of some sort. It might be a small town with lovingly landscaped streets that sport decorative bushes and trees and hanging flower baskets. It might be a larger town with a wide variety of shopping experiences and more than one movie theater. Or they might live in a bustling city with malls and billboards and highways and maybe even a skyscraper or two. But very few of the kids who come to camp actually live out in the woods like my boys.

Just like there is something about the vast, swirling wonders of space which pulls the mind toward questions about God. There is something about setting foot in the forest that makes you pause and wonder, is He there? If so, does He really see me?

When you are in town, you are surrounded by the manmade. Houses are constructed, streets are paved and maintained, stores are bought and sold, trees and shrubs come from a nursery and must be trimmed and sprayed for insects and watered lest they die. The forest, well the forest lives on its own.

No one is watering the towering pines that cover the hills around camp. They are simply there, stretching toward the heavens in all their splendor. Elk, squirrels, bear, snowshoe hares, deer, porcupines, cougar, and marmots move through the forest unaided. With the exception of the squirrels by my grandparents house, they find their food and live their lives without a mall or medical plan. The sizzling heat of the July sun. The aching cold of a midnight hike to Inspiration Point. The vast spread of stars above and the gentle call of song birds on the wind. We can forget all of these wonders when we surround ourselves with the works of man.

Camp is a place where you meet God.

Not just because the speaker is teaching from the Bible. Not just because the counselors are asking for prayer requests at night. You meet God at camp because camp is surrounded by all the amazing things that He Himself has made. I am awestruck when I touch God’s handiwork. Whether it is a confusing glimpse into the intricacies of space, or hearing an owl call to his mate in the dead of night. I want kids to see His wonders too. I don’t want kids to spend their lives on sidewalks and playgrounds and think that they have seen it all. I want them to experience the things that God made, in all their wild splendor. And that is why those articles made me think of camp.

So how about you?

What leaves you flabbergasted and in awe of God? 

 

Boo Boo