Spring CamasCon 2024

The CamasCon retreat was a wonderful weekend of playing games, connecting with friends, and being encouraged to walk close to Jesus during the chapel sessions.

Clearly, there were plenty of games available to play.

These enthusiastic campers agreed to heft this large game box for a photo after I complained about the limited photographic opportunities (people sitting in a circle staring at a game board) that CamasCon offers.

From Terraforming Mars to Terra Mystica, a wide variety of games were played with a wide variety of strategic difficulties.

Whether a camper wanted the complexity of Battle Star Galactica or the fun simplicity of Spots, there was something for everyone.

All of that to say, there were so many gaming opportunities available, both for the strategist who wanted an epic and lengthy play and for the casual gamer who was looking for conversation and laughter around the table.

Here, our cook got in a couple of games played before his kitchen duties demanded his full attention.

So, why a boardgaming camp?

There is nothing like sitting around a table with friends IRL (in real life) and having real human interactions. Games bring people together.

Quick games that play out in just a few minutes.

Strategic masterpieces that fill the table and six hours (or even 12) of playtime.

They bring brothers together. Friends. Even total strangers can connect across the table.

They bring people together for light conversation and laughter.

They bring people together for deep talks and moments of silence.

Whether it is just passing the time with a friend or the most important conversation of the day, each of these conversational moments are facilitated by playing a game together.

Our speaker for the weekend was Sam Healey who chats about games over at the Flipside of Boardgames and The Dice Tower.

He shared from his testimony, about the ups and downs of working in ministry and the boardgame industry, and about God’s faithfulness when we fail. His testimony was a powerful reminder to each of us that God is powerful in His work in the world around us and in and through our very lives, despite our mistakes. Important words to hear, for those walking through a dark place.

Why a boardgame camp? Folks will take the time to travel out of their normal space, step out of their regular friend group, and explore something beyond their everyday activities in order to play a boardgame together. Scruffy and I saw our regular group of boardgame friends, people we only see at CamasCon, people we hadn’t seen in years, and people who became brand new friends. I know that this occurred for many others as well.

This is the value of a boardgame camp. Community. Relationship. Taking a moment to seek God together as part of Christ’s church. Laughing, even crying together. Boardgames build relationship and that is something near and dear to the heart of our Lord.

1 Peter 3:8–Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. NLT

The Robe, the Ring, the Fattened Calf!

 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:22-24

When I’ve read the story of the prodigal son or listened to it preached, I usually identify with one of the sons. But Scruffy (my husband) mentioned something on Easter Sunday that has stayed with me.

We’re in full-time ministry. We have been for a long time (24 years, give or take) and Scruff and I have been at this long enough to see kids come and go and then come back again.

This young woman worked at camp years ago. We did our best to encourage her walk with the Lord and be people who brought God’s light into her world rather than darkness. But she wandered and we lost track of her and for a time it seemed as though God would not be a part of her journey.

This happens with so many kids.

I have seen pastors and youth leaders grow truly discouraged with this occurs. Scruff and I have grown truly discouraged when this occurs. But we kept on doing what God called us to do, even with all our inadequacies, and something amazing started to happen.

Kids grew up, spent years on a journey away from God, and then their hearts began to yearn for Him once more.

We see them at the grocery store. “Hi, Boo Boo. Say hello to Scruff for me. You know, I haven’t been following God . . . but I’ve been thinking about Him lately.”

Sometimes they call to share exciting news or when the world is crashing down around them. Sometimes they look us up when their own children grow old enough for camp and the memories spring to mind.

Sometimes they just show up at camp out of the blue, to walk the trails, visit Inspiration Point, or to stand in the forest alone and risk trying to pray again.

“We are the servants,” Scruff said.

Remember the story of the prodigal son? How the loving Father rushed down the road to interrupt his son’s apology and pull him into His arms. And who is He talking to as he interrupts? His servants. “Quick! The best robe, some fancy jewelry, sturdy sandals! Clothe my son and then prepare a feast. Rejoice with me!”

And so on Easter Sunday, we were honored to play the part of the servants.

No, we didn’t butcher any cows, but we stood cheering in the balcony while this young woman was baptized, again. I did my classic Boo Boo football game cheer that always embarrasses our sons and Scruff took a video with his phone and rushed to give her and her boyfriend huge hugs.

Sometimes it is discouraging to be a servant. To watch the Father grieve as His son walks away, to see him glancing down the road one more time, to see the older son growing bitter. But then there are days like Easter Sunday. A day when your Master shouts for you, “Bring the best robe!” The day you scramble for the ring and the sandals and rush to your Lord’s side.

It was so good to celebrate with our Lord on just that kind of day.

 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:22-24

Boo Boo

Junior High Winter Blast!

The Junior High Winter Blast is one of our very favorite camps!

But so many times when I talk with people about this amazing thing called camp, this crazy life God has called us to, folks want to simplify the camp experience and break it down to the bare numbers.

“How many kids chose to follow Christ?” they ask. “How many rededications and baptisms?”

As someone who has sat with teens on the day they chose not to give up, chose to trust God with something impossible, chose to open the Bible again after a dry stretch, chose to forgive, pray, change, grow, or just get up in the morning one more time . . . this hurts so much to hear.

God is at work in a myriad of ways during a weekend of camp.

His transforming power is so much more glorious than what a handful of numbers can express.

What about the weekends where we water those tender seeds, planted in the hearts of children by their parents and Sunday school teachers? What about the weeks where campers simply get the joy of being children in the forest with new friends in a place where they feel safe? What about the kids who are already Christians, already following their Lord with everything they have, but they are discouraged and tired and sad? What about that camp that brings them a moment of joy, a taste of courage, and new forever friends for the hard times when they go back home? All the work that God does here is Holy. Please, don’t forget this truth.

That being said, this was a weekend of joy, of children making tough decisions with big smiles on their faces, a time of beautiful and glorious harvest. But please don’t forget, God is bigger than numbers, my friends. His work is so much more.

Faramir returned as our speaker to talk with kids about how Jesus is our example.

Ephesians 4:32 -”Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Here, one of our hard-working kitchen helpers demonstrates the expression on her face as she (and many others) were falling on the ice in the camp parking lot! It was pretty exciting!

This year we were thrilled to have a whole passel of middle schoolers who were brand new to ideas like church, faith, and Jesus. Faramir is such a great choice for a group like this. He is a substitute teacher and soccer referee as well as a youth pastor. In the first session he assured campers that they didn’t need to know it all, that just learning one new thing was awesome, and that God is so patient and understanding with us as we grow!

Then Faramir taught about how Jesus encountered a leper and touched him. Because Jesus was willing to become “unclean” by reaching out to a leper, Jesus spread healing and life and the leper was no longer unclean and ostracized from society. Even more than his physical healing though, God met him and showed him He cared.

What a picture of God’s love for us!

Just like the leper was separated from society by the ravages of disease, each of us is separated from God by the festering of sin in our lives. But Jesus reaches out, takes what is unclean in us upon himself, and gives us his healing and His life!

Now, Junior High Winter Blast also has some amazing activities to go along with the amazing chapel sessions!

Campers enjoyed some fabulous trips down Camas Meadows Bible Camp’s famous tube hill!

Fresh snow, a sunny day, and time with new friends flying down the mountain side brought kids together in ways that a day inside in front of the computer just can’t!

On Saturday, Faramir spoke about how following Jesus has a cost.

How it often means having less in this life or even suffering for living like Jesus did. Even so, those who follow Christ are called to trust God anyway because of His great love and kindness.

On Saturday, Scruffy led a hike up to Inspiration Point.

It was such a gorgeous day to soak up the beauty of the things God has made.

Part of our mission at Camas Meadows is to make sure that children get the chance to be outside in the beauty of God’s creation.

Scruffy leads the campers in a moment of silence so that they can truly enjoy the landscape.

And then he leads them in a moment of snowball warfare!

Which is also an important part of nature appreciation!

In the third chapel session, Faramir spoke about how Jesus gave His life so we can truly live.

Ephesians 2:8–For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

How God works and shows His love through each person’s uniqueness.

Well, as I was taking photos of snowball fights and other Inspiration Point fun, these unique girls gave me a very unique photo, ha!

Wet and cold and laughing, the campers were nonetheless full of smiles by the time they hiked back to camp.

For the final chapel session, Faramir spoke on how each one of us can make a difference wherever God has put us.

And these children wanted to do just that! Ten campers chose to follow Jesus this weekend and fifteen rededicated their lives to Christ.

But Junior High Winter Blast cannot be boiled down to a few simple numbers, my friend.

God works with power amoung us, in His own way, and in His own time.

His work is beautiful to behold.

From friends working together to make a snow bear, to snowball fight extravaganzas and tube hill adventures, children raising their hands to follow Jesus, or folks pausing a moment to soak in the beauty of God’s handiwork. God is at work. He is kind. He forgives. He changes His children and does mighty works both big and small. Rest in Him and rejoice!

Ephesians 4:32 -Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Boo Boo

Senior High Snow Camp–This is Your Brain on Faith!

This year, we enjoyed our biggest snow camp for high school teens yet!

It was so fun to watch the campers run to the door every time someone new arrived in order to greet them.

And yes, of course true friendship involves mashed potato art! In this case, another mashed potato duck.

After witnessing a variety of enthusiastic greetings, one of the leaders jumped on the band wagon and flung himself into Van Helsing’s arms when he arrived to lead chapel.

After a quick get-to-know-you game that involved a great deal of running, shouting, and some danger of broken chairs, it was time for the first chapel session!

Choco and Partake joined us to lead the worship, starting with some fun fast songs to get everyone’s hearts pumping!

It is so lovely to listen to teens sing together. Many of them have trained voices at this age and those who don’t sing with such vibrant enthusiasm. It is a joy to gather with these amazing campers to lift our songs before the Lord.

Van Helsing’s topic for the weekend was Your Brain on Faith!

Using the fascinating book The Other Half of Church: Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation by Jim Wilder and Michael Hendricks, he addressed the tendency that we have to only connect with God in more left-brained logic types of ways like study and scheduled prayer times. However, if we ignore the part of our brain that thrives on making connections through emotions and shared experiences, we will miss out on so much of what God wants for us and how He relates to us as a loving rescuer not only a just master. Van Helsing took us through some right brained exercises to not just know who Jesus is but to draw closer to Him through a deeper connection to our Lord.

On the first night, we looked at John 14:23 and the joy we can have from following Jesus as our Lord. A Lord who loves us and makes His home with us.

During the next chapel, Van Helsing taught on the Hebrew word Hesed, or attachment. As followers of Christ, we don’t want to simply know a bunch of things about Him, we also want to form a deep attachment to our Lord. An attachment that changes who we are and directs the path our life takes in giant ways.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV

Next, we learned about making choices like Jesus as a group of believers and encouraging one another as we try to follow Him.

“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters.” Matthew 10:24-25a NIV

Through all of these chapels, Van Helsing used Mega Mind’s journey from super villain to hero to illustrate how stretching our right-brain muscles can help us form the vital connections that give the strength for real change.

Just like that cartoon character, our life-changing moments are often sparked by vital connections with friends, family, and our sweet Jesus and His great love for us.

Campers got the chance to form lasting friendships as they played hockey, hiked to Inspiration Point to take in the views, and sang karaoke together!

Soaking up the beauty of nature is refreshing for sure, but it also gave each teen a glimpse in the heart of the Lord, Creator of all the beautiful majesty that surrounds us here at Camas Meadows Bible Camp.

The friendships these campers began earlier at home or at previous camps grew stronger through adding more shared experiences. Brand new friendships also began to form.

These boys went on an adventure hike with Scruffy after taking in the beauty of Inspiration Point.

Up and over the ridge, through the brush and rocky terrain, then down to the pond.

When was the last time you went on an adventure with Jesus?

Have you dared to put your Bible knowledge to good use by inviting Him into each tough situation knowing that your Lord listens, loves you, and can handle hearing about all the hard things you are facing.

Have you let Him be a part of your passion as well as your logic?

Have you let your Lord transform your creativity as well as who you are at work and in the church pew?

From charming crochet pineapples to lovely piano music, God made us to be complex and inspired by so many things.

It was amazing to learn about new ways to involve Jesus in our everyday lives. To give both our ability to analyze and decide and also our passions and love of connecting with others through stories and experiences to the Lord for His kingdom work.

God gave us both halves of our brains.

One is not “better” than the other, they are just better at doing different things.

Watching these teens grow friendships with one another was such a great reminder that I need to grow my friendship with Christ.

Use my whole head and whole heart in the effort and seek Him with knowledge, truth, and the companionship of a child running into the arms of her beloved Father.

If your passion for Christ has begun to face, pause and consider, are you only using a part of yourself to seek Him? Connect with Jesus, my friend. With all that you have. He wants each part of us and does beautiful things with our meager faith.

“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.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:5-7

The Lord who seeks us when we are lost, who understands our weakness when we stray, who rejoices over us when we are found, and gives us the strength to be more like Him each day is our master. Rejoice in Him with all that you have, you are His beloved!

Boo Boo

Summer Staff Winter Retreat

At Camas Medows Bible Camp, the day after Christmas isn’t for finding all the stuff you lost underneath that pile of Christmas wrapping or eating leftover pie all day long.

Nope. Here on this mountain meadow, the day after Christmas is when we welcome a group of rowdy teenagers (and older staff, too) to come into our winter wonderland and take a moment to consider if they are being called to serve God at camp this summer.

It’s time for the Summer Staff Winter Retreat!

For those who have already been on staff with us, it is time to hang out with the friends they made over the summer and be refreshed with Biblical encouragement.

For staff during our busy summer season, there is little to no down time.

Hard physical work if they are on the support staff team or the constant weight of being both spiritual mentor and 24/7 childcare for a cabin of campers if they are counsel staff take up almost every hour of their week of service at Camas Meadows.

And some staff members come for multiple weeks! They make it possible for campers ages 9-18 to rest, play, and grow closer to God in this beautiful setting.

However, some campers at the Summer Staff Winter Retreat have not been staff yet.

They are only considering what it might mean to spend their summer in service at an off-grid Bible camp.

We pause this blog for a vital announcement! An important addition to this year’s retreat, the goat trophy! Yes, this is based on a Bible verse. Do you know which one?

Obviously, this valuable commodity was greatly sought after and campers endured a variety of strange competitions in the hopes of making a tiny blond or brunette wig for the goat to wear for an entire year.

Yes, it was blonds against brunettes this year due to a random comment earlier in the year that sparked a fierce competition!

OK, back to our blog, folks!

For campers just considering coming to staff training for the first time in June, this retreat is a great time to get to know the current staff, soak up some great Bible teaching, and build an igloo or acquire a frozen nose while zooming down the camp’s terrifying tube hill at night!

Yes, runs down the terrifying tube hill are cushioned with calmer activities. Like this game played inside by a warm fire with cocoa and friends.

Scruff was the speaker this year and he focused on the questions Jesus asked.

He gathered them all into a document and printed them off. Then posted them on the big log pillars at the center of the lodge.

There was only time to cover a few, but simply reading over every question was an amazing experience.

Scruff’s plan was to “Enter into the encounters people had with Jesus and the questions He asked them and to wrestle with those questions ourselves.”

So, which ones did he cover?

Do you want to be well?

Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?

What do you want me to do for you?

Will you also leave?

In between moments of thoughtful Bible study and beautiful worship, were opportunities to sing karaoke, play Grog, and see if the brunettes or the blonds could do the selfie scavenger hunt the fastest!

Yes, even Boo Boo; Bomber; Ragnar; and Partake did their fair share of karaoke singing!

Choco came back to the mountain to lead us in worship and it was so delightful to sing together with him again!

Something new this year, Scruffy didn’t have to run program, speak, host the camp, and do his camp director tasks all at the same time! Chiquita (former counselor and mom of one of our current counselors) took over program and did a fabulous job! Although, she did fall asleep during chapel one time!

Don’t worry, she made up for this by giving each camper a banana trophy that commemorated some element that they brought to the team during camp!

Whether it was a banana trophy or a goat trophy (yes, the blonds won . . . this year) or a spur of the moment snowball fight, this time spent forging friendships, growing closer to the Lord through teaching and shared worship, and just taking time to play was vital for our staff as they considered a summer of service a few months from now.

We would love for you to join us in praying for our staff. Young staff just considering training and older staff coming back. Tired staff who have done camp work for many years and every single worker who gives of their time and heart each summer.

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” Mark 8:27

“What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Luke 18:41

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. John 6:67

Senior High Teen Camp–Battleground!

Not the war on drugs, not the war on terror, not the war on furbies … this is the war on you.

Van Helsing was our speaker for senior high camp and this year’s theme was Battleground!

During Monday’s chapel, Van Helsing spoke on The Battlefield of Faith.

What exactly is faith?

Faith is a belief that leads to doing something.

Monday Night’s Tactic: Join Up!

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

On Monday night, the campers went on a Star Trek to Inspiration Point. Choco brought his guitar and they sang worship sons under the stars. Then Scruffy had them sit in silence for four minutes as they look at God’s wonderous creation spread out above them. A youth pastor took this photo near Inspiration Point with his really good camera years ago, but it continues to inspire.

One of the campers shared about her experience at Inspiration Point during the Friday night campfire at the end of the week.

She had come to camp with many worries and concerns weighing her down. Then she and her cabin walked up to Inspiration Point in the dark. She gazed up at that ocean of stars and felt so small. Beneath that giant sky, all her problems felt suddenly small, too. Knowing that the God of all those huge and brilliant things had made her and loved her brought an unexpected peace.

During Tuesday’s chapel, Van Helsing spoke on The Battlefield of the Heart.

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

Are emotions good or bad? Why are relationships so hard? What is the secret to a good relationship with your boss, friends, coaches, or romantic interest? What is the secret to a good relationship with God?

Tuesday Night’s Tactic: Battle Buddies!

What is a Battle Buddy?

When Boo Boo wanders around trying to get things done but starts to get confused because she is dehydrated, Bomber stops her and asks if she needs a drink of water.

When Boo Boo needs to talk over a sticky problem, she goes to her good friend Daizy who was a camp counselor with her way back when they were young and foolish.

When she needs prayer, to share the burdens of life, or to converse about an interesting piece of Scripture she goes to Scruffy.

These are her Battle Buddies.

Now sometimes Bomber might pray with her or Grandma Smurf might remind her to get a drink of water, but the point is that she is not fighting the battle alone.

Do you have Battle Buddies? Pray that the Lord will provide encouraging people in your life for the journey and learn how to encourage them, treat them with grace and respect, and work together as you navigate the sometimes rocky path of life.

Another fun thing that Van Helsing did this week (with the help of Mina) were the vs. verses. What are vs. verses, you ask?

Well, the speaker always has a daily memory verse. In order to encourage the campers to memorize these verses, Mina helped Van Helsing set up a variety of battles that the campers could vote on. However, they could not vote unless they had said the memory verse to Van Helsing!

Thor vs. Wonder Woman

Puss in Boots vs. Jack Sparrow

Perry the Platypus vs. James Bond

Miles Morales vs. Tom Holland

Chuck Norris vs. Scruffy

Who won? Well, it all depended on who said their daily memory verse and got to vote!

In case you are curious the winners were: Thor, Puss in Boots, Perry the Platypus, Miles Morales, and Scruffy!

Puss in Boots won the grand championship over everyone else at the very end!

On Wednesday, Van Helsing spoke about The Battlefield of the Flesh.

The physical world causes many struggles, weather it is a battle over unchecked desire or the physical struggles of pain and illness, there is much to fight on this front.

Tonight’s Tactic: Prepare to Fight!

One of our camp counselors, Boromir, faced an unexpected battle of the flesh this week.

He was walking on the trail from his cabin with his campers and had a seizure. His campers rallied around him. Running to get the nurse, guarding him until the seizure passed, and helping him to Scruff’s car.

Scruffy drove him down to the ER and while Chat Noir stepped up to be with them in Boromir’s absence the campers waited to hear Scruffy’s report on how he was doing. After a day at home recovering, Boromir returned amidst the cheers of the boys in his cabin. It is such a difficult thing to ask for help, but after this tough battle, Boromir said that he came away realizing that he should. Have you faced a battle of the flesh today? I bet you have. There are many battles on this field, but one way to victory.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:2

And yes, if you are wondering, Boo Boo did indeed shoot this apple off of Scruffy’s head in one shot with an archery tag arrow! Don’t worry, they have a big foam tip to prevent skewering.

One of the campers’ favorite night games is Walkers!

This is a night game we don’t play at any other camps and campers look forward to finally being old enough to come to Senior High Camp so that they too can fight zombies in the forest.

Thankfully, Mina’s brother Mini Van works at a thrift store and acquired some amazing wedding dresses that the girls used in their transformation into monsters.

Combined with Lea’s amazing make-up talent, Walkers was a memorable time running through the woods battling evil and earning cabin points!

During Thursday’s chapel, Van Helsing talked about The Battlefield of the Mind!

“The deadliest enemy is the one you cannot see. But you can still fight back… with the right weapons.”

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

Tonight’s Tactic: Weapon Up!

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

During the Walkers game, Partake was leading a group of girls through the “zombie infested” forest. One of them was concerned. “We can’t see anything,” she said.

“We’ll be fine,” Partake said before confidently striding into the dark forest, tripping over a log, and bashing her knees.

That was a lot like Partake’s week of camp, actually.

She was our program director this week and is an organized person who enjoys schedules, being on time, and orderly games and activities.

Through events outside of Partakes control, this week was not easy to wrangle!

However, in the midst of the unexpected, God was still clearly at work.

During Friday’s chapel, Van Helsing talked about The Battlefield of the Soul.

“I have given you power to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19

There wasn’t just a chapel session titled Battlefield of the Soul, there was also a night game!

This involved whacking people with sock flails, nylons full of color powder, and of course running through the woods. What was the enemy? Those dangerous influences that are not from God.

Those sock flails were actually more painful than expected and unfortunately, did dye light blond hair in bright colors.

We were short on girl counselors for this week, but we got a surprise addition to our staff at the last minute.

The mom (Chiquita) of one of our young counselors used to be on staff with us nineteen years ago.

She has been helping out with camp work behind the scenes and doing such an amazing job, but the lack of girl counselors for Senior High Teen camp started to weigh on her.

However, she was able to argue against such a drastic measure as coming back to camp as a counselor. She was a mom, what teen girls wanted to hang out with a mom all week? She was solidly in the adult part of her life, she liked sleep, and wasn’t fond of running around in the forest at night with people dressed as zombies. A week of camp simply did not sound … comfortable.

Then she ran across this quote: “The end of comfort is where life begins”

Hmmm … and so after a nineteen-year hiatus, Chiquita joined us on staff as a counselor!

What teenage girls wanted to hang out with a mom all week? As it turns out, her daughter and all of her daughter’s friends!

There was some mortal embarrassment when they failed at pranking the boys two times and Chiquita agreed to take the blame for their bad pranking and even got them breakfast in bed when they refused to show their faces ever again … which didn’t actually last very long, just long enough to get breakfast in bed. But then her campers gave her one of the greatest compliments ever.

“You have the most fourteen-year-old water bottle I’ve ever seen!”

Chiquita summed up her week like this: “It was a gift to be a part of these teens lives. An old person is not who they want. But each time they pulled me aside and shared their hearts with me was a gift.”

So there you have it, bring a youthful water bottle and you too can be a camp counselor even if you are beyond your teen years.

One of our counselors, Katara, described a moment playing Battle for Souls in the meadow that was an image of camp for her.

We were in the meadow, battling with sock flails, and in between screeching at groups of campers I got to stare at the stars and have a conversation with Jesus. I prayed and saw tons of shooting stars.

It was a perfect encapsulation of camp. The Lord takes a moment in the breaks and shows himself between all the craziness.

Our camp hike during senior high is to Weathertop.

This steep climb takes us to a rocky ridge where you can look down on the meadow from above.

One of Van Helsing’s favorite memories from the week was having a deep conversation with a camper standing right on that narrow ridge with people shuffling past as they sought a closer look at the view.

She wasn’t self-conscious at all about sharing her story right there with the whole camp milling about on the ridge.

Having a thoughtful talk about the Lord and what He was doing in the middle of all the tough things she had faced was more important.

One of Zoboomafoo’s favorite moments was definitely “planning” their crazy skit.

“On the final day of skit prep, his camper suggested a unique element. “We should shave my beard during the skit!” Another camper said, “Samson and Delilah!”

Thus, the Chipmunk cabin’s skit was born and Scruffy and Boo Boo had the dubious honor of watching their son play Delilah in front of the whole camp!

It is amazing how God uses you for His kingdom at camp, in so many ways that you don’t expect.

In line getting groceries at Costco, Scruffy had someone flag him down to talk because they knew him from camp.

Because he worked at camp, this man pulled him aside to share part of his family’s story and Scruff was able to tell him, “God’s not done with your child, give her the message that we love her.”

Because of what God does at camp, Scruffy and Boo Boo and Bomber have so many unexpected spiritual conversations in grocery stores and other random locations.

You never know what God will use for his kingdom work.

Boo Boo spends most of her time at camp either taking photos or telling the camp counselors what to do or not to do.

There are many many motherly moments where she must give a stern eyebrow and redirect some kind of craziness.

In fact, she is pretty sure that the counselors sigh with a deep weariness when they see her coming.

That is why the Friday night campfire was such a surprise.

She didn’t expect Scruffy to share. He never shares. She didn’t expect him to share about how they had lost their sweet Newfoundland, Princess Leia Freyja right before camp. She didn’t expect him to talk about that incredible sorrow of trying to face the summer camp season without her constant therapy dog presence to give them encouragement.

How they didn’t think they could survive the exhausting 100-hour work weeks and deep emotional cost of camp without her softly padding up to give kisses and a helping wag.

She didn’t expect to burst into tears right there, sitting in the grass at the outskirts of the campfire ring.

And she most certainly did not expect one of the staff members she had shushed and shooed and told what to do and what not to do more than once that summer to pull her into her arms and hold her while she wept.

In fact, two other staff girls came up and held her toe in an encouraging fashion while she cried.

God can use you even if you are the one who has to tell people that duct tape is not allowed on the log buildings, girls are not allowed in the guy cabins, and hitting a wasp nest with a stick is foolish.

God can use you even if you are the one who needs to be shooed and shushed.

God can even use someone holding your big toe as you sit out under the stars and weep.

God even used Dauntless’ crazy skit.

It didn’t look good at first. They prepped for skit night. Had ideas, scrapped those ideas, came up with new ones but didn’t know the theme.

Finally, Dauntless asked Scruff to join the skit. Immediately the theme made itself known. The Chipmunk Cabin acted out every single one of the vs. verses battles. Yes, we got to see

Thor vs. Wonder Woman

Puss in Boots vs. Jack Sparrow

Perry the Platypus vs. James Bond

and finally …

Chuck Norris vs. Scruffy

The Squirrel House won skits and they won the week-long cabin competition, as well.

Everyone has a battle to fight. In the Old Testament, there were literal battles that God intervened in to save His children. But that doesn’t mean our battles are less terrifying, less overwhelming. It doesn’t mean that God will let us face them alone.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“But the LORD says,
“The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved.
For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.” Isaiah 49:25

Boo Boo

Middle School Camp 2–Running From God!

Junior high campers are absolutely hilarious! They are fun and rowdy, sassy and bold, full of passion and capable of incredibly deep and meaningful conversations about God and just life in general.

This is the age group most likely to make a decision to follow Christ.

Why?

One, they are rowdy about absolutely everything. If they are not being rowdy about prayer, Bible learning, or the very idea that God exists, they are being rowdy about food, gaga ball, night games, or just the forest basics like pinecones and squirrels.

This rowdiness comes with an incredible capacity to grow and change and decide for themselves.

It is at approximately the age of twelve that the human brain matures sufficiently to grasp concepts like metaphor, abstract thought, and right and wrong outside of previously established boundaries. It is at this amazing age that children realize that they have the choice to follow Jesus or not. If their family has always followed God, they still have a choice. If their family has never followed God, they have a choice. Such an amazing revelation!

Speaking of families, it was incredibly exciting to be able to take a photo of three different generations of women who have been involved in camp ministry here at Camas Meadows. Grandma is the wife of one of our former board members and even worked as a camp counselor once when she dropped off campers only to realize that we did not have sufficient staff. So she stayed to counsel a cabin! Zinc (yes, that is her camp name) was a counselor way back when I (Boo Boo) was a counselor and also served during Scruffy’s very first summer leading camp! Zinc’s daughter was a camper this week and it was crazy fun to watch her jump into camp activities knowing that her mom and grandparents have been a part of Camas Meadows Bible Camp for so many years.

We had such a beautiful variety of middle schoolers tumble into camp this week with all their vivacity and obstreperous charm. There were children who had grown up steeped in every aspect of the Christian faith, who could zip their way through the books of the Bible blindfolded, and give a thoughtful answer to tricky theological queries with aplomb.

Among this raucous splash of humanity were also children who had no faith background at all. Sometimes they would giggle when a counselor prayed or shout out a wild and perhaps slightly sarcastic, “Amen, brother!” during chapel as they attempted to navigate a strange social situation that was completely foreign to them.

Oh how precious each young camper is. It is such an incredible honor to invite every one of them into the world of Bible camp. Weather they just came for the camp part or are happy to learn a bit of Bible, too, every child was an honor to serve.

Our speaker, Faramir, often works as a substitute teacher at our local public schools and is also a soccer referee. He was not in the least bit phased by the wide range of campers he was called upon to teach. In the very first chapel he acknowledged that prayer, the Bible, and God talk can be so very strange. But he encouraged each one to be willing to take just one step on their journey, weather that step was putting their faith in Christ or simply deciding to close their eyes in contemplation for the first time during a prayer.

That is one of the things that I absolutely adore about camp ministry!

Children who serve as missionaries with their family love camp and children who are self-proclaimed atheists also love camp!

Christian camping holds a fairly unique place in the body of Christ. Stepping into a church building can be so intimidating for someone who doesn’t know and follow Jesus. Even more so for a child.

I don’t know any young atheists who love to attend church.

However, I know multiple young atheists who ADORE coming to camp!

Camp is an exciting and growing experience for everyone. Weather a camper dares to play paintball for the first time or figures out how to find the book of Jonah in their Bible for the first time, children stretch out of their everyday experiences and realize that, yes, they have what it takes to do new things.

During chapel this week, Faramir spoke on the reluctant prophet.

Yes indeed, he spoke about Jonah, the “man of God” who ran away from the Lord.

Now, Jonah, he would have been one of those who knew his Bible verses off the top of his head and every right answer ta boot. In his case, it was the Torah but yes, he knew all the right answers and he knew God, deeply. That is why he ran, he knew that the God he served was merciful and there was a terrible chance that God just might be merciful to some people that Jonah felt absolutely justified in hating.

So, during Monday’s chapel, Faramir spoke about Jonah’s call.

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.'”

Just in case you were wondering, the word for wickedness in verse two can also be translated “calamity” and is used multiple times in this small but punchy book of the Bible. It comes up again at the end of the story in a powerfully ironic way. Also repeated, “the Lord provided.” The Lord provides all sorts of things to help Jonah on his reluctant journey of faith. From a whale to a worm the Lord is constantly providing for Jonah’s growth as he comes face to face with his own lack of grace and compassion.

Can you tell that I love the book of Jonah? What a perfect chunk of Scripture to study with this delightfully pesky and sarcastic age group. There is a great deal of irony in this book of the Bible and more than one sarcastic sentence. Please, do yourself a favor and read it again. Then, when you read Jonah 4:2-3 imagine that the most snarky teenager you know and love is saying the words. It is my firm belief that this imagining will bring you closer to the reality of Jonah’s words than any monotone reading every could.

Faramir shared that while each of us may not have received detailed travel instructions from the Lord, each of us is unique and absolutely does have a call upon our lives that comes straight from Him!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

While junior high campers are delightfully pesky and rambunctious, so many of them are also deeply hurting. They can be all of these things simultaneously of course, just to keep camp counselors on their toes.

What I mentioned about a twelve-year-old’s brain development earlier is key here. It is at this age that children stop taking what others say as absolute truth and begin to weigh out right and wrong for themselves.

If they are part of an unhealthy friend group, they will begin to notice that something isn’t right. If they are in an abusive environment, they will suddenly realize the injustice of their situation. If someone they trust has been lying to them, they often figure this out in junior high.

Oh, the painful power of a maturing mind.

Some of these hurting children know how to treat others well … and some of them do not.

This week, the camp counselors spent so much of their time gently teaching campers how to be good friends and to resolve conflict with friends and cabin buddies with grace and respect.

On Tuesday morning, Faramir taught the campers the S.O.A.P. method of studying scripture!

  1. Scripture – Read a short Bible passage out loud and/or write it out.
  2. Observation – What do you notice about the verses? What do you think the main message is? What words or ideas jump out to you?
  3. Application – Ask God how He wants you to apply the verse to your own life.
  4. Prayer – Pray for yourself and/or for others.

On Tuesday evening, Faramir talked about Jonah running away. If we all have a call from God, then we all have a choice whether to answer that call or not. Our choice matters. Just like Psalm 1:1-3 says, connection to God matters.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” Jonah 1:3a

On Wednesday night, Faramir spoke about Jonah on the ship!

God showed Himself to Jonah and everyone else who rode out that terrible storm. Sure, it wasn’t the most peaceful encounter with God shown in Scripture but even in the middle of the howling wind and smashing waves, God’s grace is clear in this passage.

Oh, the incredible irony of Jonah 1:4-16! Who is it who urges God’s prophet to call on his God? The pagan sailors who have never even heard of Yahweh! We know this because when Jonah oh so casually mentions that he serves God who created both the dry ground and the sea, these sailors are absolutely terrified. Who could run from a God like that?

The answer … you guessed it, Jonah!

Who was it who sought out God, attempting to get information about the terrible storm and what could be done to improve the situations. Yep, that would be the pagan sailors once more.

Go sailors!

What was God’s prophet doing … running, hiding, and sleeping! That’s what. Plus, we have another use of that fascinating word “calamity” in verse seven.

“Then the sailors said to each other, ‘Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.’ They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” Jonah 1:7

On Thursday night, Faramir talked about the Great Fish. Sometimes God knows it will take a little bit extra to get our attention … or in Jonah’s case, a lot!

On Friday night, Faramir talked about The Turn. Interestingly, when Jonah turns, repents, and decides to go to Nineveh … well, all of this happens at the hinge of the book of Jonah, right in the middle! So “The Turn” for Jonah spiritually is the hinge of the book, which I find absolutely delightful.

So, just like God wanted the Ninevites to turn from their calamity and for Jonah to turn from his calamity, God calls us to repent from the things we have done wrong. Turn away from the old and follow Jesus to a new life that brings God’s light to others instead of darkness and pain.

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 4:17

It was such a great joy to see so many of these awesome young people turn to God that night and choose to follow Jesus.

Teenagers can spot something fake in a split second and there is a brutal honesty to the book of Jonah that speaks to those longing for something true.

Jonah is angry. Truly and deeply angry with God. Not because he thinks that God isn’t loving. Oh, no! God is loving to the wrong people. The irony of Jonah’s journey, saved from the depths of the sea by a monster that God provided, and still Jonah wavers when it looks like God will give mercy instead of judgement to the Ninevites.

God provides a lot of things in the book of Jonah: a great fish, a plant to shade Jonah, a worm to snork down that plant, and a scorching east wind.

Not everything God provides is comfortable, however, each item helped Jonah along on his journey of discovering the value of God’s incredible mercy.

Finally, on Saturday morning, Faramir spoke about The Aftermath. Yep, in Jonah chapter four not only do we have God’s own prophet grieving over the life of a plant but Jonah is bold enough to chastise God Himself for valuing the lives of actual people. Here, we finally come to that delicious and ironic use of the word calamity concerning Jonah himself.

Well, the whole reason that God sent Jonah on this trip in the first place was because of Nineveh’s calamity, translated in Jonah 1:2 as wickedness.

Well, in chapter four there is a whole lot of calamity going on! I’ve put the words that are the same Hebrew word as “calamity” in bold below.

“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshis. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:1-3

“Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.” Jonah 4:6

Oh, that terrible moment when reading the book of Jonah and you realize that God’s own prophet values a plant that he did not tend or water over a city full of people who did not know God.

Perhaps the plant eased Jonah’s calamity for a moment, but the calamity ran deep and at the end of the book God holds the life of that plant up to Jonah and compares it to the lives of every man, woman, and child (and their animals, too) in the city of Nineveh and asks Jonah that fateful question: “Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Oh the cutting satire of the book of Jonah. That painful truth that sometimes those who should honor God the most are the slowest to hear His voice. May we catch our breath at the beautiful honesty in Jonah’s story and walk away different than we were before.

The power of Jonah’s story was not lost on the wonderful young teens we served this week.

One of our guy counselors had encountered much frustration attempting to facilitate a discussion time with his group of rowdy boys. On that last night, everything finally came together for them to truly talk in an honest way about God, His Word, and what Jonah’s strange journey might mean for people wondering about God’s judgement and mercy today. There were so many great questions and the campers were engaged as they honesty explored the depths of God’s Word. It was such a beautiful moment together after a long hard week with some especially precocious teens!

At the Friday night campfire, one of our campers put it so well. He said that before camp he used to think that there was no God at all, but that now he thought he could see Him in the kindness and love people show to each other.

There is a reason that Jesus Himself said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Perhaps that particular camper didn’t choose to follow Christ on that particular night. But he saw Jesus. We each have a choice and junior high kids feel that reality and that weight keenly. Multiple children did choose Jesus during this week and so many more learned about both His great power and His baffling love as Faramir taught them about God’s reluctant prophet, Jonah.

Finally, let me share with you my favorite verse in the Bible. Think about it for a moment. Think about all that Jonah did to escape God and God’s call. Think about how every single character in the story behaved better than God’s own prophet, including a sea monster, some cows, and a worm. This verse is deceptively simple, but gives me such hope every time I read it.

Jonah 3:1–“Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”

Boo Boo

Junior B Camp–Adventures With Peter!

Our second junior camp brough a whole crowd and running leaping shouting nine to twelve-year-old’s to Camas Meadows for an amazing week of camp fun.

Our speaker for Jr. B Camp was Squeegy, a long time counselor who was actually our camp intern when Scruffy’s oldest son Hiccup was a baby. We have so many amazing memories of serving the Lord together with Squeegy. Yes indeed, we even have photos of Squeegy holding little Hiccup in his arms.

Now Squeegy is a father of three and accompanied his own young camper here this week. He spoke on the apostle Peter and his many ups and downs with Jesus.

During the Monday chapel, Squeegy talked about the calling of Peter. How Jesus didn’t look for someone who was especially talented or brilliant at studying the Scriptures.

Jesus sought out Peter, a simple fisherman, and asked if he would follow. In the same way, Jesus calls each of us, just as we are, into a new life with Him.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

And thus the week began! There are so many stories interwoven throughout a week of summer camp. Too many to tell. But one of my favorites, one that started months before this camp began was about someone who wasn’t even here this week.

Many years ago, the son of Scruffy and Boo Boo’s pastor decided not to serve as a counselor at camp. However, when his summer baseball plans didn’t work out, he ended up at Camas and training to be a counselor.

He did a fabulous job! His new enthusiasm for camp passed to his sister and she became a counselor as well and we had several wonderful years of serving together. Camp became a deeply important part of their walk with God and they passed that love of Camas Meadows Bible Camp on to their grandmother.

Well, long before summer was upon us, their grandmother contacted Scruffy. She had been chatting with someone who was working maintenance in their building. With grandmotherly skill, she talked him into sending his kids to Camas. She got ahold of Scruff and arranged to cover their camper fees because through her grandchildren, she had grown to love camping ministry too.

And so a young family was able to attend camp all because one teenage boy took a risk and became a camp counselor.

On Tuesday, Squeegy spoke on how Peter walked on the stormy sea while his eyes were fixed on Jesus. What a beautiful thing for these little ones to learn. That while the world around them may be in utter chaos, with eyes and heart fixed fast on Jesus, Peter could do the impossible. With eyes and heart fixed on Jesus, we can do the same.

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.

One fun thing that our camp nurse Trauma Trooper does is keep track of which cabins are in the lead for scrapes and bruises.

She did it last year and the campers found this so entertaining that they rushed to the nurse again and again in order to make sure that their cabin was competitive! In fact, one of Mina’s campers said: “If you haven’t visited the nurse at least once you are not having fun!” On the last night, Mina’s girls in Eagle’s Loft went to the nurse before chapel, during chapel, after chapel, and during snack!

So, without further ado, mathematically accounting for cabin size, here are Trauma Trooper’s nurse stats for Junior B Camp.

Most cuts/scrapes visits: tie Robins (10) and Eagles (15)

Fewest: Sasquatch (4)

Most bloody nose visits: Squirrel (3)

Most stings/bites visits: OwlCats (8)

Fewest: Chipmunks (0)

Most strains/sprains visits: Eagles (11)

Fewest: Mountain Panther, Bears, Squirrel (0)

Most stomach, head, throat pain: Robins (10)

Fewest: Sasquatch, Bears, Squirrel (0)

Most hit head bangs, sore heads: Squirrel (5)

Most allergy problems visits: Support staff (3)

Most eye visits: Robins (3)

1st visit: Squirrel at 3:25pm Monday

Last visit: Mountain Panther at 12:30pm Saturday

Most serious visit: Robins 

Average visits per camper for the week by cabin:

Most: Robins- 6.55

2nd Eagles- 3.9

3rd Owls- 3.7

4th Squirrel- 3

5th tie Sasquatch and MtP- 2

Fewest tie Bears and Chipmunk- 1.8

There you have it. The consensus, Junior Campers visit the nurse a lot! Thankfully, those visits did not include anything too exciting like broken bones or a mauling Sasquatch. The camp nurse position is so important because children this age often simply need someone to check in with them. To ask how they are doing. To find out if that stomach ache is from the stack of brownies they ate or from homesickness. Thank you Trauma Trooper for your fine work!

On Wednesday, Squeegy talked about how Peter had a life changing experience on a mountaintop while witnessing Jesus’ glory and hearing a message from God.

Coincidentally, each Jr. B camper was on a mountain meadow having a unique experience and learning more about God, as well. There is so much beautiful symbolism from the Old Testament about Jesus on top of that mountain, being revealed in glory to the simple men who chose to believe before He was shown to them in His full splendor.

When God gives us a unique moment, an experience in the forest, at camp, at a church service, or just with a good friend … may we grow from that glorious moment into someone who can weather the everyday with new strength because we have indeed seen Him.

Mark 9:7 – Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

There were so many growing moments for campers this week.

Two of the guy counselors had campers who had a conflict with each other. This disrupted the camp experience for two different cabins and took a lot of patience and loving care to resolve.

However, at the end of the week, one of these guy counselors told us that the difficult times he had to navigate with those feuding boys brought about one of his favorite moments.

Sitting in the cabin, gathering his boys around him and reading to them out of 1 John.

Sometimes a child goes too far, ruins their relationship with their friend or acquaintance, and then doesn’t know how to make it right.

Those boys realized they had someone at their back, cheering them to be better, helping them figure out how to be kind to each other, to be like Jesus to each other.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11

For Thursday’s chapel, Squeegy talked about how in his fear and weakness, Peter denied even knowing Christ. However, God is full of love and mercy and is ready to forgive.

Psalm 103:8 – The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

There was a moment around the fire pit in the meadow when a camper came to the end of themselves. Something happened and it was just the final straw. He broke down.

But campers gathered around him. Maybe they hadn’t even known him before camp started on Monday, but they sat with him, patted his back, comforted him in his difficult time.

The body of Christ doesn’t just look like a group of adults sitting in pews.

The body of Christ is also a mob of children on wooden benches in a meadow, patting the shoulder of a weeping boy.

On Friday, Squeegy talked about when Peter hears of Jesus’ empty tomb. How he runs to see for himself.

Matthew 13:44 – The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

On Saturday, Squeegy’s chapel session was about when Jesus forgave Peter’s denial and reaffirms His calling for Peter, asking Him to lead.

The message of forgiveness and calling was so important this week. It is hard to learn to live well with others in a way that honors Christ. As campers went through the process of learning how to do this, the reminder that even Jesus’ disciple Peter had to fail and then find the courage to ask his Lord’s forgiveness and the strength to try again was just the right Bible story to study. The Lord is gracious, taking us right where we are at and teaching us His ways.

John 21: 17b – Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

One of Meteor Knight’s campers told him that he really wanted to have time to talk. Though the week was incredibly busy, Meteor Knight found a quiet moment for him.

This camper was eager to tell his story. How he was in the foster system and it was incredibly difficult. How he finally landed with a loving family and now feels safe.

He hadn’t wanted to come to camp at all, but his foster dad had been doing maintenance at a lady’s building and she’d talked and talked about Camas. She had convinced him to send his kids and so this camper and his foster brother came to camp.

This camper was really struggling to find the verses of the day in his Bible, but Meteor Knight helped him out all week. This camper said that he really enjoyed camp and that it brought him “a whole bunch closer to God.” He hadn’t even wanted to come this week and now he couldn’t wait to come back.

Small steps of faithfulness, offered up to our Lord. A faithful young counselor inspires his sister and his grandmother to invest in camp. Grandma meets a family with kids and encourages them to take a brave step and send their little ones up into the forest for a week of adventures and Bible learning. A child finds encouragement and hope after the incredible difficulty he’s faced in his short life. God is able to do so much with the little bit that we have to give. Miracle after miracle after miracle.

Luke 18:27: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Boo Boo

Middle School Camp 1–Story!

Middle School Camp 1 started out with some of the only rain we’ve seen all summer. Look at those beautiful clouds!

As the campers began to arrive, the wild thunderstorm stilled and our wildness came from this delightfully rowdy group of campers instead.

How do you keep the attention of a large group of Jr. High children?

With stories, of course!

Our speaker for the week was Wiggin. He came to us from a large family full of great camp counselors. First as a camper, then a counselor, and finally as our amazing camp speaker!

This year, his theme was STORY.

During Monday’s chapel Wiggin spoke on “Knowing Your Story.” Yes, a variety of events have happened in your life. But what is the significance of each story event? What does each stop mean on your journey toward Jesus?

That day’s Bible passage … Mark 1:40-45!

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

What an amazing moment in that man’s story with God!

Now, if you have ever tried to teach a Bible lesson you will know that it is incredibly hard to gain the focused attention of children who do not know and trust you.

It is the same for adults. How many of us have stopped paying attention to the words and teachings of a minister or even a friend when we discovered that they had missed the mark?

Some people think that the ministry part of camping ministry only happens during chapel time and cabin discussion.

This is so far from the truth!

Archery, mini golf, Gaga Ball … each and every activity shows the campers that the counselors are people who have sacrificed their summer so that they can show the love of Jesus to kids just like them.

A child who shrugs off the good teaching of someone they don’t know, just might listen to that camp counselor who listened to their wild stories on the Star Trek to Inspiration Point to see the stars.

Who taught them how to play carpet ball.

Who made sure that they drank enough water and had a flashlight for the dark parts of the trail.

The one who leaped into the pond with them and made sure they didn’t miss their horseback ride is the one who children trust to have a listening ear and to tell them true things about God.

And so, with the important work of play building strong cabin bonds, Middle School Camp 1 was off to an amazing start!

On Tuesday, Wiggin spoke on Story + Identity how our stories shape who we are.

The passage, Luke 19:1-10.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

It is so amazing to see how that short story with Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ identity.

He went from an enemy of Israel to a man welcomed by the Son of God.

He was a cheat and a thief who became a generous man.

Zacchaeus went from being an outsider to welcoming the Messiah into his home.

The man who was accustomed to being despised was the beloved of his maker.

How will our story with Jesus transform us?

Wednesday’s chapel was about story + belonging. We find a place to belong through inherited story and when our story intertwines with the stories of others. The great news Wiggin was able to share with campers was that Jesus became human and came to dwell among us. He sacrificed so much to intertwine His story with ours.

John 1:14a–“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

or as the message puts it:

“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”

I saw multiple stories intertwine with Jesus’ story this week. One story from the very beginning of Camas Meadows Bible Camp. Another story that began before this blog was born. And a final story that started with a tragedy and showed itself this summer in a young man we know and love standing up to share his story and to change all of us in the process.

Let’s start with a tragedy that somehow someway, still shows God’s glory in the end.

One of the things that Wiggin talked about during chapel was that God “reaps where he did now sow.” God uses things in your life that He did not want for you. He never wastes anything. He takes the good parts as well as the awful parts of our story and uses them all for good.

We have watched this happen so many times at camp.

Scruffy and I have seen this again and again in our own lives as well.

This week, we saw this in the life of one of our new C.I.T.s.

He probably doesn’t know it, but I wrote about the death of his mom on the blog four years ago. She was my friend, she was a leader and a mother figure in the community and for our staff, and she was the amazing mom of two of our sons’ friends. Four years ago, they lost their mother and this year, her son stood up and paved the way for one of the most amazing campfires I have even been part of.

This young man had seen a lot in the last four years. He is a cheery upbeat person who has faced an incredible amount of pain. Sometime during the schoolyear, he shared the story of his mother’s death for the first time.

Those who were listening were incredibly moved and he realized that this was something God wanted for him, to share his story, even though it hurt.

And so he started looking. Looking for a place to share his story, a place where he felt safe and loved and knew that his words would have the chance to impact those around him.

Then he came to camp and the Spirit stirred and he talked with Scruffy, “I think I’m supposed to share my story.” So Scruff arranged for him to lead off the Friday night campfire by being the first to share.

After he spoke, others found their courage, stood, and told their stories, too. So often it is hard to keep kids from being goofy during campfire, not that night. Hearts were ready for honest talk because one young man had been waiting all year to share from the heart. People shared about the impact of camp and us who work here on their lives, people that we had no idea we had loved, encouraged, and inspired. It was shocking and lovely and truly glorious.

After a long hard season of personal loss and pain, to see how God had worked through our simple, everyday actions was amazing and also humbling. Do not underestimate what He can do my friend. Simple people, doing simple things in His name. He does some of His best work with simple.

The next story started fifteen years ago with a little girl coming to camp for the very first time. I wrote about her journey here, how she stood in the back of the room, tiny arms flung high, worshiping God with all her heart. Summers came and went and winter camps, too. I found myself once again writing her story here, about the quiet miracle that brought her back to camp nine years later. This summer, we were blessed to be a part of her story once again.

That little girl became staff for several years and then completely disappeared from our lives. Life and pain and distance happened. For a wide variety of reasons, we did not see her again for seven years. Then out of the blue, Scruff sent her a text inviting her to Camas Con, our board game camp. She ignored the text. However, it got her thinking and finally she replied asking to come and be part of our staff team once more. What we didn’t know is that when the hurt piled up and we didn’t understand, she left. She left us, she left God, and she ran as hard and fast as she could. But God is not alarmed when His children run. Jesus Himself paints the picture for us. A good shepherd, leaving safety behind to search for that one lost lamb. When she was finally ready to turn and look her Lord in the face, her heart burned, she had something more to do, another risk to take. Come back to camp. Be real. See if perhaps it was worth trying again. Perhaps His church here could learn and grow, just like she had learned and grown in her race away and back to Jesus again. A long, hard talk with Scruffy brought tears and reconciliation. Later, I snapped this photo. The same little girl, daughter of the King, arms flung high, worshipping God with all her heart.

The chapel on Thursday was about how our story isn’t our own. Our story finds completion within the greater story of Jesus sacrifice. How his death brings us new life.

Ephesians 2:4-5–“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” NIV

Friday’s chapel was about story + purpose!

As we live our story, we are called to represent God to those around us through self-giving love.

John 13:4-5–“… so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

John 13:12-17–“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.'”

“‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.'”

“‘I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.'”

“‘Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'”

“‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'”

Saturday’s chapel was about the Daily Story.

Each day, we face a choice. Live our lives as part of God’s story redeemed to be more and more like Jesus or live our own story in our own strength out of our own brokenness.

Now, I have come to the final story I will tell about this week.

This one looks back ten-and-a-half years to the very first blog post I wrote for Camas Meadows Bible Camp.

It is about a man in his fifties who finally found Jesus and the amazing woman who stood with him as he did. Now, what that post doesn’t say is that Grandpa Del and Grandma Autumn’s pastor at that time was Pastor Boyd of Little Stone Church in Chelan.

It was to Pastor Boyd that they turned to when Del and Autumn realized that the Lord had called them to start a camp. He showed them how to start a non-profit, how to form the camp board, he even picked up a hammer and helped build the cabins.

They never called him anything other than “Pastor Boyd” I only learned his given name this summer.

Two of the campers at Middle School Camp 1 made plans months ahead of time to be baptized here at camp.

When Scruff asked them who they would like to help him baptize them, both campers chose their older sister, who is one of our wonderful camp counselors, Kindred.

This young man coming out of the water of the horse trough is named William. William Henry Acheson.

He was named after his great great grandfather, Pastor William Henry Boyd.

And so Pastor Boyd’s great great granddaughter, Kindred, stood with Scruffy (the husband of Del and Autumn’s granddaughter) in the horse trough. In the ancient rite of baptism, they helped two young campers show their allegiance to Christ.

Two campers who were also Pastor Boyd’s great great grandchildren. They sank beneath the icy water in a symbol of Christ’s death. And they rose, gasping in a breath of the fresh mountain air. A symbol of Christ rising again and giving His children new life.

Such a story.

Our story. My grandparents’ story. Pastor Boyd’s story. His daughter Margaret’s story as she stopped me every Sunday for a hug and to remind me how the camp began. Her grandson Dilbert’s story as he served as a counselor at camp. Kindred’s story. And finally, it is William’s story and it is Lucy’s story. They took a rich history and a name from their great great grandfather, but on that day in the meadow, they showed that it wasn’t just someone else’s story to them.

It was their story too.

Hebrews 12:1-2–“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Boo Boo

*In order to protect their anonymity (with the exception of the baptism photos for which I got permission) I do not place photos of campers above their personal stories. Although, I may do so with staff upon occasion.

SamusCon

The second annual SamusCon was an all-around awesome experience!

More girls came this year and even more games were played!

And yes, some of those games involved throwing a burrito at a friend.

What? Your list of “things to do today” does not include throwing a burrito at a friend?

Clearly, you’ve never been to SamusCon!

Thanks to our fearless leaders Epona, Meowth, Kanga, and Bomber it was a wonderful weekend of gaming and fellowship.

Princess Leia Freyja even attended since she is indeed a lady dog and also loves chasing burritos.

At SamusCon, all kinds of games are played, including video games.

Here, old friends and new gather together for video game battles extraordinaire.

It was great to see summer camp friends after the long months of separation.

And get in some quality time with Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog.

Yes, she was a bit confused when this camper decided to hold her paws, but she was happy to oblige.

Some games take hours to play, but this delightful card game is timed and each round is complete in just five minutes!

Of course, that time limit adds much tension to the experience. This one is fun to listen to as well since there is a good deal of shouting and laughter going on.

Yes, we successfully battled the Baby Barbarian!

Wahoo!

Even a fire-breathing dragon couldn’t stand against our wild card-matching prowess.

The victory was sweet and the new friendships formed, even sweeter.

During one game, these girls managed to beat their final boss with a mere three seconds to spare!

Now that is a close call!

There were fun prizes to win as well.

Including, but not limited to, these sparkly and fuzzy slippers!

Here, SamusCon campers play a card game based on the cartoon Miraculous Ladybug!

Just like the rowdy program activities at summer camp, playing games together builds friendships and trust so that when it is finally time to sit down and study the Bible together, there is a firm foundation of fun shared experiences to draw upon as campers decide whether they will ask questions about the lesson, take a risk by venturing an opinion, or ask those around them for prayer.

It is also just plain fun!

It was so delightful to watch the campers laugh and talk about their favorite games, shows, and fandoms.

To see them discover new friends who loved the same things they did and were thrilled to have the chance to analyze them together over brownies and a cup of warm cocoa.

Yep, miraculous!

Epona led a devotion about hope, highlighting moments from Fire Emblem and Antman and Wasp.

“I’ll change the future into hope!” – Fire Emblem: Engage

Ant Man: “Hope? Are you real?”
The Wasp: “I’m real.”

Romans 4:17b–18 “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”

5:5 “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

Then Bomber led a devotion about finding peace through worship, which highlighted several Psalms that tell of the author’s despair and then show the peace that can be found as one turns a troubled heart to worship.

Epona ran a game of Horror Rules (the game written by our own Van Helsing) for the campers.

Boo Boo played this one with Meowth and the campers and assisted her fellow adventurers by … you guessed it, using her dog juggling skills!

A charming scarf to the rescue.

Also, this camper used her deadly hair of destruction during all-is-lost situations.

Yes, when one can juggle five angry Pomeranians and a surprisingly heavy but thankfully sweet Havanese, what could possibly stand in your way?

More acrobatic hair and climbing skills!

Epona was definitely kept hopping keeping these imaginative adventurers away from the sharks/attacking parrots and on their way to save the birthday of an innocent young lad!

One camper even brought up a game she’d made herself based on Lord of the Rings. It was hilarious and delightful in every way.

Yes, much laughing ensued.

Here is Meowth urging the campers to try a game of Shakespeare Munchkin.

Which of course they did!

All in all, it was an amazing weekend of play, fellowship, Bible learning, and connecting with other women who love everything about gaming.

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

Boo Boo