For the first time since Scruffy’s worked at Camas, we offered a Camas-Run, Sr. High Snow Camp! Yes, here they are, Sr. High campers … who are sometimes quite tall, as demonstrated by this photo. One of these rowdy boys is actually the camp speaker, though. Can you pick him out?
Yep, this is our speaker. The one and only Van Helsing, who for some very important Biblical reason, was impersonating a T-Rex during his chapel session. Thankfully, I am quick to photograph these amazing moments and so we can revisit this Bible lesson again and again.
As you can imagine, there is plenty of silliness at Sr. High Winter Camp. Does this camper actually have a pet spoon?!?
And of course much Ukulele playing!
The occasional epic tube hill run
Yep, you can tell how much fun they are having by how much snow they track into the lodge!
But a few snowballs brought inside are not sufficient. At Sr. High Winter Camp we get outside every chance we can get!
And that means giant snowballs
And snowball fights!
There’s nothing like blue sky, fresh snow, and an enthusiastic snowball fight opponent.
Like your father … or the camp intern.
This is Inspiration Point. A great place for both quietly viewing the mountains and an epic battle.
Teen campers are great. They can go from thoughtful contemplation to crazed attack and back again in an instant.
That is the beautiful thing about camp. All the rowdiness and fun seems to actually make the quiet times of camp all the more lovely. I think that the very act of having a snowball fight, insane hockey match-up, and super-tense game of grog with a group of people makes you more likely to be honest and open to God’s word with them, when it is time to worship and study.
There is nothing quite like worshiping beside the person who just chased you up the tube hill, in the dark, through three feet of snow, as you both strove mightily to win the game of Mission Impossible.
Camp is my favorite place in the world to worship. Add an acoustic guitar and it feels like Heaven. Surely, there will be acoustic guitar, warm wood tones, a crackling fire, gorgeous views, and good friends in heaven?
This weekend, Van Helsing spoke on Christmas. Which unfortunately meant that he brought a terrifying dancing Santa!
This camper is clearly concerned about the presence of dancing Santa at camp! Don’t worry, he requires electricity. We can always unplug him, or perhaps the generator will break at just the opportune moment.
Thankfully, the creepyness of dancing Santa was offset by this small but significant Christmas tree. As we stepped into the new year, with everyone around us making resolutions all willy nilly, Van Helsing challenged us to pray and ask God what He wanted us to concentrate on this year. The Year of Awesome.
Whether it was anger, self-control, balance, friendship, forgiveness, or “Claws Out!” at the end of the weekend, we wrote our word on a paper, stood up among Christian friends, and placed it on the Christmas tree.
Finding Salvation in Jesus Christ is not the only step on our journey of faith. Living a life for God is a long and at times weary journey. We need to have moments of connection with other believers. Each of us lacks the courage and resilience to go forward at times. Winter teen camp provides a moment along the journey for rest, fun, and encouragement among other young believers. Such moments are vital to being a teen of faith. It is such an honor to be a part of providing such moments for these amazing and wonderful teen campers!
Galatians 6:2–“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
The day after Christmas might be Boxing Day in Canada or a chance to eat leftover turkey and enjoy new toys before they break for others, but here at Camas Meadows December 26th is always first day of Summer Staff Winter Retreat!
How could a camp that involves hockey, snow tubing, snowball fights, and beautiful hikes in a winter wonderland possibly have anything to do with summer?
Well, as you can imagine, in order to run our summer camp program we require many amazing volunteer staff. Anyone interested in becoming staff, either support staff who work behind the scenes or C.I.T.s who begin training to become counsel staff, can attend the Summer Staff Winter Retreat as a camper. Campers must be turning 15 in 2020 to be considered.
This is a chance for kids who are considering a summer of service to get to know the permanent staff and connect with older counselors and support staff. To learn some of the fun and beautiful camp songs. To grow in their walk with the Lord as they worship together and hear teaching from God’s word. And to take just a bit of time in the mountains to play and rest and be renewed.
For experienced staff, this is a vital chance for us to minister to them instead of them ministering to their campers.
We demand a lot from our summer staff. They must be responsible, constantly alert, think of the needs of their campers before their own, and occasionally have slices of cheese dipped in mayo or gummy worms dipped in chocolate flung at them during Watchamabob! They rarely have time to just talk and share with other staff since they are focusing on the needs of their campers 24/7.
But during the Summer Staff Winter Retreat, the older counselors and support staff who didn’t have the time to hang out in the summer get to do just that. They get to be the campers. They get to have a speaker who challenges them in their walk with the Lord during chapel sessions. They get to talk and laugh and pray and weep and laugh some more together, as a team. Sometimes they even get to take a little nap after a snowball fight or tube hill run.
Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog, is always ready for a nap or a snuggle with one of the campers.
Of course, camp is not all about rest and relaxation!
There are crazy games
Fun times outside
The occasional snowball fight
Plus, many hours playing strategy board games around the table together.
As you can see, the schedule is full. And this week, camp was full of hilarious people who enjoyed drawing on the official schedule of events. Wait a minute … I recognize that handwriting!
No, Orchid didn’t do it. She was just playing a board game.
From snowy faces
To “I really hate twinkie weenier sandwiches” faces.
To “I can’t believe I ate that twinkie weenier sandwich for my camper” faces.
There were many amazing moments to photograph. Yes, these are Twinkie Weenier Sandwiches, just like in the movie UHF. Twinkie, hot dog, and cheeze wiz … yum!
Our speaker, Momo, taught on brokenness. Looking at the faces of these wonderful teens, I hate even the idea of any of them being hurt. But though camp is a place of fun and joy, it is also a place to be honest about the hard things in life.
Hurt people hurt people and that is so discouraging when you see the terrible cycle of brokenness continue around these beautiful kids that we get to work with at camp. But Momo also spoke about how there can be victory from the cycle of hurt and brokenness in Jesus Christ. I myself have seen this legacy of pain stopped in its tracks as Scruffy left a family tradition of heartbreak and addiction to follow Jesus.
It is such a blessing to watch these amazing young people as they come together to worship, share from their hearts, learn, consider a summer of service, and just have a whole lot of fun together. Camp can be such an amazing time to grow and heal and reach out to others with God’s grace. It is an honor to be a part of God’s ministry here.
2 Corinthians 5:17–“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come.”
We were blessed with another large group of kids for Middle School Camp 2. Fifty-five crazy, beautiful, and hilarious 6th to 8th graders. For our last Camas Camp of the summer, we set out to provide the pure delight of a week chock-full of fun in the forest combined with incredible teaching from God’s word.
Sadly, these girls were completely sorrowful and somber and totally bored on the 100 foot camp slip-n-slide.
Ha ha! No, they were so fun and enthusiastic, I have way too many pictures of them. Jr. Highers are just the best!
Our camp speaker for Middle School 2 was Faramir. And for this rowdy horde, he spoke on the life of David.
“God often chooses the unpopular, the weak, the stinky, the poor, the outsiders, the anxious, the fearful” –Faramir
How many of us felt like this in Jr. High? Well, as they jumped into David’s story, the campers got to see that God is very much interested in what is underneath our awkward clothes, abysmal social skills, and lack of hair-brushing prowess. God looks at the heart!
Why does God choose simple, unimpressive people? Why did God anoint the youngest brother, that scrawny shepherd boy, the one so forgettable that his own father left him off his list of sons when chatting with the powerful and respected prophet Samuel?
To show His glory!
No, pause a moment and really let that sink in. Our lack, shows God’s power. Our weakness, reveals God’s strength. Our averageness or even below-averageness, showcases God’s greatness.
Now that is exactly what we got to see this week.
God, doing amazing things, with ordinary people
One guy counselor noticed his campers jumping off the dock at Lake Chelan. He came and joined them, urging everyone to jump in superhero poses. They perfected The Ironman, Hulk Smash, and Batman in jump after jump together.
One of the boys had a hard time getting into the activities as a first-time camper. He resisted the camp counselor’s enthusiastic efforts to get him involved and having fun. It was one of his fellow campers who marched him around from activity to activity and finally convinced him to give camp a try. When we saw his nervous face break out in smiles, it was a sight glorious to see!
From large accomplishments, like finishing the Ga Ga Ball Court after years of dreaming, to small moments such as taking the time to play a boardgame with a child who wasn’t excited about getting wet, acts of love both big and small were a backdrop to the chapel sessions about the life of a simple shepherd boy turned king.
From cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night to limping around camp to locate an absent camper, the counselors consistently showered the campers with God’s love. Knowing that someone will call the nurse and take care of your mess, realizing that instead of being mad your counselor is actually a listening ear and someone who understands, as these young leaders gave of themselves in a continuous stream of little moments during the week they were used greatly by our powerful God.
Like when Orchid took her campers on a hike to The Frog Pond and in a joyful gust of spontaneity, they all jumped into that murky water for a swim!
Or when none of Hiccup and Randalf’s campers were tired and so they read out loud to them, from Leviticus, about how exactly one used to clean up their house after a mold infestation! Hint: in involves painting the walls with a live bird instead of a brush!
Making a bracelet for someone else, listening, sweeping the dirt paths between the cabins and the tube hill for cabin inspections (yes, you read that right. They actually swept dirt!), going on a night hike, Shine jumping around the corner to say, “You’re pretty!” or Zooboomafoo jumping (literally jumping) in to lead motions and increasing the energy in the room by about 400%. It truly is little things, done well, with honesty and consistency that make a difference with kids.
Campers bravely stood during the campfire on the last night and said things like, “I was welcomed with open arms.” Or even, “My favorite moment of this week was learning to grow closer to God.” It is amazing to watch God at work with a group of simple, everyday people. The last image from camfire was this, one camper proudly standing alone, raising his arms and singing the last song after everyone else was sitting down.
The life of David gives us hope in so many different ways. It is often in Jr. High that we begin to feel the terrible weight of our own mistakes, and so often at this point, we question God’s love.
But God is careful to record even His follower’s worst errors in His word, so that we are not left floundering and without hope when we fail.
After facing down giants, David stayed home from the war and sneaked a peek at a beautiful woman bathing in the seclusion of her own roof. His staff pointedly mentioned that she was the wife of one of his famous Mighty Men, and yet he ordered her brought to him, got her pregnant, and arranged for her husband to be abandoned on the battle field and killed. David, the man after God’s own heart, pretty much waged a war upon his own honor.
What now? David had betrayed God in a truly epic fashion. According to 2 Samuel 12, he despised the word of the Lord. Instead of a quick smiting, God sent the prophet Nathan with a story about a rich man and a beloved lamb. When David rages at the horrors brought upon this fluffy innocent (that would be Bathsheba) Nathan utters those chilling words:
“You are that man!”
And it is this moment that should give each of us hope, whether we are struggling through Jr. High or 7th grade seems like a lifetime ago. It is this moment that teaches something incredible about the love of God. David, broken with sorrow, repents. And God forgives! Even crimes like these, He shows mercy when He sees what is in David’s heart.
God anointed a shepherd boy as king because of what was inside, not what others could see. Then He boldly forgave a sinner of epic proportions, because of the broken heart that David offered up to Him. David’s life is full of struggle and mistakes, but in the end, he always came rushing back to God.
Whether we are full of dramatic flair, awkward bumbling, blemished skin, unexpected beauty, or agonizing difficulties with math, God is not looking at our surface. He sees the heart. Faramir made sure that these lively campers know this great truth about the Lord.
Life isn’t always easy.
Sometimes our own mistakes add to the mess. Sometimes the mistakes of others splash over into our lives. Sometimes there is no greater good in sight and a thunderstorm hits the Ga Ga Ball court for no apparent reason.
But from the life of David we can be sure of several things. God values what is inside.
He works with incredible power in the humble, small, fragile people who follow Him.
And though we stray, even when we make incredible mistakes …
He has the strength, grace, and mercy needed to get us back where we need to be.
Though the journey is difficult, and sometimes embarrassing, we are always at our best when we are safely in His arms.
He is the one who knows us best and looks upon the heart!
1 Samuel 16:7–“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”
MAMO, our camp speaker held up a transformer, then another, and another, until five plastic robots of various shapes and sizes cluttered the camp lectern.
How do you teach 1 Corinthians 12 to Junior campers? The very children who relish leaping about during the fast songs, but have such a terrible time sitting still during chapel?
Yep, these are the campers whose cabin discussion went much better, “After we confiscated the whoopie cushion.” Delightful and full-of-energy youngsters whose attempt to learn Biblical things was described by one of the staff as: “A lot of yelling and chasing each other around with toothbrushes!”
How exactly does one show these little ones that they are greatly loved by their Creator and designed with a purpose?
As a mother of seven, MAMO was not daunted by such a task. Before camp began, she prayed, watched, listened, and ordered a fabulous collection of transformers online that she had no idea how to put together!
Wahoo! The box arrived just before camp began. A colorful collection of teeny weeny plastic limbs, wheels, and befuddling bits that could have been a rocket launcher … but might also be a robotic elbow.
And so MAMO vamoosed unto camp, deeply hoping that faith was indeed the evidence of things unseen. For though the shiny sheet of directions that had accompanied her purchase declared her collection of colorful bits to be five mighty robots which when combined would form a single incredible robotic masterpiece of giant proportions, she saw nothing of the sort within the box that she held in her hands.
And so camp began! Crazy meadow games, wild worship, and an even wilder game of croquet at Lake Chelan. Yes, croquet can be rambunctious indeed! Who would have known?
MAMO jumped into the sessions, not knowing what would transpire if her amazing metaphor concerning “the body of Christ” turned out to be beyond the skill-level of all the counsel staff and campers combined.
While the five plastic robots toured the camp, going from cabin to cabin in a search for one who understood how exactly they were intended to combine, the chapel sessions continued.
She held up a simple but beautiful ceramic pot. Broken, but repaired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. The art of using precious metals to transform something that was broken into a thing of beauty, even more valuable than it was before.
“You are not an accident.”
“You are a masterpiece.”
The pure, unadulterated fun and rampant joy of camp roared along between chapel sessions. Night games in the forest, starlight hikes, paintball, and horseback riding galore. Amidst all this, those plastic robots made their way through camp, from cabin to cabin.
In the middle of the week we received an unexpected blessing. Like Gandalf the Gray appearing at the Battle of Helm’s Deep, Falkor arrived mid-week to assist Zooboomafoo with his cabin of ten boys who were more often eleven since they’d welcomed the camp nurse’s young son as their official mascot!
At the campfire, children described conquering their fears when they came to camp for the very first time. Themes that showed up around the flickering fire again and again where words about finding a family, a home, and courage.
Finally, the chapel session arrived that required five completed robots, combined into one, just like the body of Christ … this epic creation was no closer to completion than before.
So MAMO handed those tricky robots to her daughter and my youngest son, then she stood at the front of the room, behind the old wooden pulpit. As two determined children squinted at directions and sorted through plastic pieces, she began to speak.
“You are not an accident.”
“You are a masterpiece.”
The session came to its conclusion. MAMO glanced toward the back where the two campers worked feverishly.
Were they done? Was it even possible?
“Just let us put on the head!” The two campers seized the aforementioned piece, shoved it in place, and rushed the completed robot up to the front.
Five robots in one, combined to make a giant. Seemingly impossible to construct, nonetheless there he stood, just as the box had promised!
Not an accident, a masterpiece.
Designed with a purpose. Just like each and every camper who gazed up at the camp speaker while she held the robot high.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Middle School 1 was our biggest camp of the summer. With 65 campers, 16 counselors, our interns (yes, one of them had to counsel) and four support staff.
It was a delight to see the camp packed full of loud and rowdy kids. But this amazing week began with difficult news. A wonderful local school teacher, outdoors-woman, and worker for the Lord died in a tragic accident while on vacation.
She was a friend of ours, the mother of our oldest son’s good school buddy, and a light of God’s love in our community. Our staff and several campers knew her closely but we did not want to shadow their week of camp with such sorrowful news. So I watched as our intern staff broke down weeping, prayed, then wiped away tears and went back to leading the group. They threw themselves into laughing, shouting, raucous fun, all while deep inside their hearts were broken. I saw them sacrifice their right to grieve, so that these dear children could postpone their sorrow for one, glorious week.
It was a glorious week, indeed. Have you ever been in a room as 65 children sing at the tops of their beautiful voices?
Have you ever felt thunder rattle the room as 65 kids jump in unison to do the hand motions during fast songs?
Then when The Thing got up to speak, it brought us from laughter to tears again in an instant. What wrecked me, was his opening illustration about surrendering to God. He’d prepared the illustration weeks ago, but it truly rattled the staff in our moment of grief. He spoke about a seven day kayaking trip that he and his dad had taken, a trip which was led by the same man who had just lost his wife the day before.
Sorrow and joy, all mingled together. Isn’t that just like life? We follow a broken Savior into a broken world and yet, beauty breaks through all around us.
Yes, the second time she leaped, Meowth jumped even higher!
In keeping with The Thing’s theme, there were many stories of surrender throughout the week.
I was so proud watching the staff come together to keep track of one particularly active camper. The two guy interns and Scruffy jumped in to help. Boromir pulled a pillow and blanket outside to do F.O.B. with him on the camp lawn since laying still in the cabin was pretty hard for this young man. Then Bomber manned the life-guarding kayak even though this boy was the only one still out of the water. Her favorite moment of the week was watching him scream at the top of his lungs, full of pure joy, every time a wave hit his tiny watercraft.
When one of the girl campers hurt her ankle, the whole cabin rallied around her. They rushed to collect various items she might need and prayed for her together.
Yes, the boys had a blast playing golf with Stormbreaker, Zoboomafoo’s walking stick that occasionally wore a bow and showed up in a whole lot of skits on Thursday. But they also demonstrated their compassion and desire to serve, even amidst a great deal of wrestling.
MiniVan wasn’t feeling well, he had 12 campers who generated no small amount of energy between them. He was assisted by Flash and then Boromir just showed up at camp on Monday to counsel when we didn’t expect him. This was such a huge blessing as he was put to good use in this large cabin of boys. Well, an exhausted MiniVan was attempting to get the campers all calmed down, but one of the boys hurtled from the room. Where had he gone? Should MiniVan give chase? After a long moment, the camper rushed back with the rest of the cabin in tow. He had gathered them all so that they could pray for their counselor together.
Sis (our intern and Program Director for the week) told of when a camper pulled her aside and gave her a dollar. This sweet girl had realized that the canteen workers accidentally gave her an extra dollar in change. She had sought out Sis to make sure that the money was paid back.
One of the greatest joys of the week was getting the chance to serve with new Support Staff member, Zamperini. He is the son of the man who led Scruffy to Christ way way back in their college days.
But this fun personal connection was not what made the week so memorable. Although, Zamperini had already battled brain cancer and leaving home to volunteer at a location that is a good 30-45 minutes from the hospital was a risk for him and his family, this young man poured himself into work like no one we’d met before. He always had a smile and a high five for everyone around him and was constantly looking for more work to do! When asked what his favorite moment from the week was, Spectre (Camp Intern and Support Lead) laughed and said: “Every time Zamperini said, ‘I’m bored, they don’t have any more dishes for me.”
I had the honor of watching a brave, first-time Sr. Counselor and equally bold first-time C.I.T. take on their own cabin. We have watched both of these girls from the time they themselves were nine-year-old Jr. Campers. In fact, I was the one who answered the phone and walked one of them through the process of camper registration. Yes, as a fourth grader, she registered herself for camp and she has been blazing through the obstacles standing in her way ever since! The Lord is so good. These young ladies were a bit nervous about leading their first cabin, but a group of more respectful little girls would have been difficult to find. They asked to be excused from the table, checked in with their counselors constantly, and thanked them for leading their cabin! We had no way of knowing that these were the most gracious little girls of all time, but the Lord did and provided this special blessing of a first cabin!
Howitzer had to solo counsel his cabin when his Jr. Counselor went home sick. Though he was surely exhausted, we watched him wrangle a group of rowdy boys with grace and constant patience. Their skit with the bagels and the song that one camper composed and preformed solo, was amazing!
There were so many fun moments during the week, like when Epona explained to her camper about Joshua taking up the job of leading the Israelites from Moses and the camper shouting out: “Like Batman and Robin!” Or when Zoboomafoo sang “Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” for most of the 80 minute drive home from Lake Chelan until he actually reached twenty-some items which he had to spit out at super-fast speed several times per verse. “A quark on a tater-tot on the cell on the hair on the mushroom on the porcupine on the hole in the bottom of the sea!!!”
As is often the case, his cabin full of 13-year-old boys were themselves full of great peskiness and energy. Nonetheless, with this incredibly active and fun-loving bunch, Zoboomafoo did the impossible. Not only did they rush into night-games with full enthusiasm, they also cleaned their cabin (gasp!), memorized 99 Bible verses (wow!), and won the cabin competition and the much-coveted wheelbarrow of candy!
On the last night during campfire, we asked the campers to carefully consider what they would like to say and only share once. With 65 kids, the process would take quite a long time if everyone thanked their counselors, then thought of something they learned, then popped up again to thank the camp dog. One camper thought long and hard about what to say. When she stood up to share, she thanked the camp staff, including the Support Staff who do the behind the scenes work to keep camp running properly. The campers never notice the support crew and all their hard work! We were so impressed with this observant and thoughtful young lady.
Half of the campers said that their favorite thing about the week was The Thing’s chapel sessions. What? Yes, that is exactly what they said. The Thing has a gift for bringing God’s word down out of the clouds and smack into the hearts of kiddos and they relish the attention and care that he gives them as he teaches.
After one boy stood up to tell his story and then share about what camp meant to him and how it had changed him, a girl camper who had been listening whispered to her counselor, “That was really brave.”
Isn’t that what we are supposed to be as Christ’s church? The people who encourage one another.
The people who notice the hard work of those toiling behind the scenes.
The people who set aside their fun to weep with the hurting. The people who set aside their grief to rejoice with a child.
A people so deeply surrendered to the plan of their Master that they realize it is only He who can win the day. A people who truly belong to Jesus.
This week I got a glimpse of what it means to surrender to Jesus. It was such a beautiful thing to see. May we surrender to Him just as completely, all the rest of the year.
James 4:7-8a–“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
*In order to protect their anonymity, I do not place photos of campers above their personal stories. Although, I may do so with staff upon occasion.
After a brutal, but powerful week with teens, the camp was flooded with a bouncing, smiling, laughing horde of 9 to 12-year-olds.
They raced around the meadow, zipped down the slip-n-slide, and thundered back and forth between their cabins and the dinning hall. As the whole group tromped up to Inspiration Point at night to enjoy the stars, one of them mused to a camp intern about spiritual matters.
“I wonder what it would be like to be stepped on by a dinosaur? That is the fourth thing I’m going to do in heaven, be stepped on by a dinosaur”
And that my friend, is the difference between Jr. Camp and Sr. High Camp. But please do not think that we are longing for the spiritually complex discussions and heart-wrenching honesty that teens are capable of. The simplicity and joy that envelope a week with young kids is a beautiful thing to behold. Let me wax eloquent for a moment upon the vital ministry and innate loveliness of Jr. Camp.
At Jr. Camp, everything is a huge adventure! For many of the campers, this is their first time away from home for a week. Some of them have never spent the night without their family even once and so just arriving at camp and staying is the craziest thing they have ever done.
Then there are all the new activities. Dunk Tank, Slip-N-Slide, Night Games, Lake Day, Cabin Skits … . New adventures await every day and these little guys charge through each day, soaking up every one.
There is worship, but unlike worship in any setting they’ve seen before.
Worship where you stretch out before hand to avoid a muscle injury. Worship where you leap and run and dance and shout and do so so many hand motions. But then there is the switch. After they are exhausted and happy and breathless with fun, Choco slows things down and they pray. Then he introduces quiet songs of God and His power and strength and love.
Then there is the unique opportunity to talk about God, not with their Sunday School teacher, Children’s Pastor, or Parents … but with that fun teenager who let them dunk him in the dunk tank, helped them prank the boys’ cabin, or raced across the meadow to unfreeze them during meadow games.
And the great thing about discussing the Bible lesson with a fun camp counselor and a cabin full of kids their age, is that even if they are too nervous to talk the first day, or the second, they still have days and days together to work up the nerve to share from the heart.
We had one first time camper who didn’t talk during the discussion until Wednesday. What happened Wednesday? She made a new friend in one of her cabinmates after a sun-soaked day at Lake Chelan.
Never be fooled into thinking that rowdy splashing, jumping off the dock together, and way way too much sunscreen cannot be used of God.
That is the beauty of Jr. Camp.
It is all about relishing the innocence of childhood. About being a kid on an adventure. About stretching your wings and seeing if you can have some fun, Bible lessons, triumphs, and even a few serious discussions on your own, away from home. Even if the whole cabin has to take a crazed lap around the volley ball court between every question because all those little girls are too bouncy to sit still for long.
Sure, one of the boys’ cabin might have spent a fair amount of time discussing whether or not one would smooosh into the earth if stepped on by a dinosaur or if it would simply crush you. But they also talked about heaven and getting the chance to ask Noah questions. They spent their curiosity on what they would want to discover about God’s creation once they died and had the ability to ask whatever they liked of their Lord.
One Junior Counselor talked about when the Sr. Counselor gave him the opportunity to lead the cabin discussion. He said the boys were pretty wiggly and that they did spend a fair amount of time throwing jelly beans at each other, but that they answered the questions honestly.
How many of us can say the same? Being honest with ourselves, God, and the believers around us is huge. These precious little ones are learning to do that. Taking a bold step out on their own and realizing that other people love Jesus besides Mom and Dad.
And as my own Jr. Camper somehow convinced his counselor to tote him down to the campfire while still snuggled up on his sleeping bag, hopped up to the fire to share, and then hopped back … I remembered again the pure delight of providing a week of camp for young people. Jr. Camp is truly a joyful adventure!
*To protect their anonymity, I do not place photos of campers above their personal stories. Although, sometimes I will with Camp Staff.
Here at camp, we just completed six days of intense training for this year’s summer staff. Much prayer and consideration goes into choosing our staff and when school finally lets out, we have the honor of training them for a summer of service.
So here are our staff on the first day of training!
“Wait a minute, Boo Boo?” You might ask. “That looks suspiciously like fun!”
Hmmm … yes indeed. It does look like they are having fun. That is not, in fact, accidental.
The staff actually spend a great deal of time sitting in the lodge listening to teaching sessions. They have sessions with Pastor John about counselling issues.
They have sessions with our four interns about the daily camp schedule, cabin management, different camper personalities, and camp procedures. They have sessions with other guest speakers whom I failed to photograph.
Then they have many, many, many sessions listening to Scruffy. Here he is talking about how to share the gospel with kids.
But lectures are incredibly boring to take photos of and we don’t actually want our counselors lecturing campers. So, not only do they need a break to get up and move around after sitting so long, they also need to hone their skills at vital camp activities like Chuck-the-Chicken, Archery Tag, Paintball, and Capture the Flag.
Princess Leia Freyja had to share her squeaky chicken with the counselors so they could practice this game. She does indeed love all campers, so she was willing to sacrifice, but was pleased to get it back.
While she waited, The Princess enjoyed one of her favorite pastimes. Taking goofy pictures with staff!
Not only did Princess Leia Freyja’s sacrifice allow the counselors to practice running in circles,
running in straightish lines down the meadow,
and throwing a rubber chicken in a remote, outdoor setting,
her sacrificial sharing allowed the staff to form the kind of bond that will last over a summer of intense service to kids.
This is another reason that Staff Training does not focus entirely on passing pure information on to the next generation of counselors.
We want our staff to be a true team and adding the goofy, the strange, the hilarious, and rambunctious to our training sessions may look pretty silly, but goes a long way toward fusing these young people into the amazing team that will be caring for your children all summer.
So meet our 2019 Camas Meadows Counselor Staff!
From the fresh new faces of our first-time C.I.T.s (Counselors In Training) to senior counselors with several years of experience, they were a delight to teach. Add our four interns, the support staff, and of course Choco and Scruffy and we are all set and ready for the campers to arrive. We truly would appreciate your prayers this summer! Camp ministry is the best job on earth, but it is not always as easy as a game of Chuck-the-Chicken in the meadow. Please keep us in your prayers and I will keep you all updated concerning our amazing summer adventures! Until next week … .
On Memorial Day every year, campers young and old and in-between grab up their chainsaws, work gloves, paintbrushes, and shovels.
They follow their fearless leaders into the fray, cleaning what must be cleaned, clearing what must be cleared, and doing every job needed for Camas Meadows to be prepared for a summer of ministry to children.
There may be some debate about which job to do first, where all the shovels have gone off to, and exactly where Scruffy wanted that pile of rocks moved. But eventually everyone gets a job, instruction, and bolts into the forest ready to conquer downed trees, potholes, and piles of pine needles!
With stern (and necessary) fire-hazard rules in place that prohibit chainsaw use in August, much of our firewood gathering must now occur in the Spring.
Experienced chainsaw operators work to bring down and cut up any trees killed by those pesky pine beetles.
Younger firewood enthusiasts roll rounds to the camp truck, help stack wood, or pick up all the scattered branches that such a task produces.
Our gravel roads come out of the Winter months looking shabby and full of potholes.
But with the hard work of many hands put to the task, both the parking lot and camp road are fresh and smooth.
Work was also completed on the paintball course by this father-son team.
And this Nana-grandson team charmed one and all while bringing delicious snacks to the other workers.
Not all jobs are out of doors. Painting, scrubbing the camp chairs, washing windows and bunks, organizing the kitchen shelves and many other tasks were completed as well.
Yes, when they are not attending to their mother’s “bunny ears” needs, these helpful campers scrub all of the chairs until they are fresh and lovely!
Cleaning out the camp stove, not a problem for this hard worker.
Grubby doors … no problem!
No, she is not sticking a screwdriver in that plug in! Why do you ask? Instead, we paint the walls and ceiling in Robin’s Roost, which requires taking off the bits and pieces that we do not want to end up pale blue. Even then, we both have a few blue strands of hair and more than our fair share of blue skin by the end of the weekend.
Good food and a moment here and there to rest and play finish off an amazing and productive weekend. Thank you one and all!
When the snow melts as May sunshine awakens the mountains. When wildflowers bloom across the forest floor and within the swaying meadow grasses. As birdsong greats the dawn each day, I know that Spring is in full bloom and that means it is time for the Camas Meadows Ladies Retreat.
Whether working on a craft with a friend
attempting to outbid competitors in the silent auction
or shoo away that pesky photographer before she takes a picture of you laughing with a retreat buddy,
the ladies kept busy during the weekend with times of fun and fellowship in between sessions.
The chapel sessions were brought to us by Robin Chukitus and yes, there was much crying, but it was worth it! Robin braved incredible honesty as she walked us through a difficult time in her life and the amazing things that God did in spite of all the awful stuff. Just because we are swamped, it doesn’t mean that He is!
She took us on a journey to discover God as the Good Father, reaching down to help His children stand strong in Him.
The weekend left us with so much to think on, mull over, and reach out to God about as we seek Him in our own stumbling walk.
But as each of the ladies said goodbye and headed home, I remain confident that the word of the Lord did not fall upon hardened soil but eager, capable hearts. For like the wildflowers that heralded the coming spring. Each of us has the power in Him to bust out of our heartache, bloom, and shine!
Jr. High Winter Blast is our only Camas-run winter camp for youth. With about four feet of snow on the ground and gorgeous weather this year, the second weekend in March was the perfect time for winter wonderland fun.
Whether preparing to dive into a fluffy snowbank,
recovering from the brisk mountain cold,
or trying to learn forty-four different names through a crazy circle game,
there were many adventures to be had during this action-packed weekend.
A high-octane street hockey tournament on Saturday morning definitely used up a lot of the campers and counselors energy.
Did the boys win? Did the girls win? Or was the victor none other than Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog?
Princess Leia Freyja certainly gained the title of “most enthusiastic un-sanctioned hockey player” even though the boys in Eagle’s Loft took home the victory.
We enjoyed the thrilling terror of the great Camas Meadows Tubing Hill!
Where a few reasonable individuals went down one tuber at a time.
Trains of tubers are outlawed, due to the realization years ago that this leads to broken collarbones, but campers are welcome to see just how many kids can be smooshed onto a single tube.
This experiment is highly entertaining for both participants and spectators.
And actually appears safer than plain old normal tubing since they never get very far.
Not far enough to build up too much speed, but certainly far enough to get a nice face-full of snow for pictures!
They jump out of the snow chilly, but smiling.
A little snow in the face and hair and maybe up one’s nose didn’t slow them down. But despite the discomfort and adventure, or maybe because of it, the tube hill brought people together and solidified friendships.
But the excitement wasn’t exclusive to outdoor adventures.
We also enjoyed some rousing games of “Share Ball” and of course Grog.
Yeah, there isn’t a whole lot of sharing in “Share Ball!”
We also enjoyed an epic game of amoeba!
All those rowdy and wonderful moments were threaded between times of quiet worship and tapping the depths of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who lends us direction, purpose, identity, and the love and care we so desperately need.
Faramir, our camp speaker, showed his incredible ability to cut straight to the heart of what Jr. High kids are truly concerned about. He spoke to the quiet, desperate needs of young hearts and the One who came to make those young souls truly soar!
Yes, each cabin got a bunch of candy to nibble during our cabin discussion times. But the real prize was seeing several young people choose to belong to Jesus during the weekend.
It was an amazing weekend! One that I was delighted to be a part of as a camp counselor for the first time in about eight years! Thank you for your prayers and support during this special, Camas run camp. After looking through all the photos from this year, I’m getting excited for the next one! You should consider attending staff training and then joining us. This winter camp was truly a delight! Especially for Princess Leia Freyja who got to join our cabin as the official Bear’s mascot!