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.


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! Xena (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! Xena’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.


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!


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

Senior High Winter Camp

Yes, Camas Folks, we do indeed run our very own Senior High Winter Camp!

2023 is the third year for this camp and the weekend has grown in so many fun ways.

Once again, Van Helsing returned as our intrepid speaker.

And yes, his “speaks” were just as rowdy as you could hope for and imagine.

Yet, he somehow managed to take the campers deep into God’s word as we all explored what it really means to seek purity of mind, speech, and action in our everyday lives.

Add some crazy worship songs and the chapel times were full of laughter and mayhem.

There is nothing like worshiping together at camp, with the wide outdoors stretching on and on just outside the windows and a fire crackling in the lodge as a warm background to our music.

Then, after singing and our Bible lesson together, the campers and counselors broke for discussion time with small groups. Some of the most thoughtful moments of growth come as campers get the chance to ask their counselors serious questions about Scripture and what it means to follow Jesus day to day.

Of course it wouldn’t be winter camp without a few runs down our terrifying tube hill!

The pictures are not the best quality, but hopefully these blurry images will help you hear the laughter and screams, and imagine these teens break out in smiles as the icy powder flies in their faces and their friends cheer them on.

Now, we have a rule that you cannot go down in trains of tubes. So … these pesky teens asked Scruffy if they could just make a train sans tubes, ha! Of course he said yes, as they are not likely to get hurt at these speeds. Even oozing down the hill on their backsides, they had a blast! Don’t worry, the campers who took tubes down the hill went at respectably zippy speeds!

A warm fire to light up the darkness completed the evening.

But tubing is not our only snow activity. These boys enjoyed a quick game of hockey with Scruffy and Princess Leia Freyja right before a snowy walk and … an even larger game of hockey!

After running around in the snow, its time to sit by the fire and play a game with friends.

And then … cabin pictures!

What do you think happened here? Did this camper require a ride to the photo location from his counselor and his friend?

And … Here they are!

The boys of Eagle’s Loft!

The girls of Owl’s Perch!

The boys of Bear’s Abode!

The girl’s of Robin’s Roost!

And the whole rowdy crew!

It was so good to host senior high teen campers again, this time in the snow! We know quite a few of these campers from our Senior High Summer Camp and love having them back for some amazing winter fun and Bible learning. It was hard to say goodbye once more, but Princess Leia Freyja was quick to hand out doggy snuggles as the campers headed back home.

We will miss each and every one of you until the Lord sees fit to cause our paths to cross once more. However, His work continues in each heart whether at camp or at home. Set your hearts on Him and rest in His love. He will do the work that heals and gives you the strength to honor Him in all your ways!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I Thessalonians 5:11

The Campfire Blog Turns Ten!

Boo Boo, Heather, and Becca at the ACFW Conference in 2012

Once upon a time, there was a young mother who refused to write a camp blog.

Her husband Scruffy was a camp director and he thought that a camp blog was an amazing idea … for her to write. But she was busy with her three young boys (ages 9, 7, and 5) and attempting to revise her angsty YA novel for the 16th time. She told the Lord that if He wanted her to write a camp blog, well, He was going to have to make that VERY clear.

Now, she loved camp ministry. Loved hearing the stories of camp adventures from staff, campers, and speakers. Loved taking photos and writing. Plus, she had always dreamed of being a photojournalist. However, none of this occurred to her as she stared at the overwhelming idea of starting and writing a blog for the camp where they lived and worked.

Then, some good friends who knew that she loved to write gathered the funds from an amazing group of helpful folks and sent her to the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference in Texas! She was so thrilled! What an adventure. Now she could take that angsty YA book manuscript and maybe get an agent and maybe even find an editor who loved it!

The ACFW conference was amazing! Boo Boo zoomed from class to class learning new writer things, meeting agents and editors who were sadly destined to reject her manuscript, and even finding a critique partner! She and her critique partner have worked together on story after story for over ten years now. It was an amazing time.

During the keynote address each day, the conferees would sing worship songs together. During one of those worship sessions, they sang, “Our God” by Chris Tomlin.

Now, Boo Boo learned that song at camp. Worshipping with the wonderful camp counselors and a room jam packed with rowdy children. There is something completely unique about standing in a log lodge on a mountain meadow while fifty children sing at the tops of their lungs around you. Camp worship is Boo Boo’s favorite!

But there is also something incredible about standing in a room of several hundred women (and a scattering of men) and worshipping the same God together. The God who is our creator. The God who gave each one in that room a passion to write, to tell tales, to create beauty and laughter and story … just like Him.

As Boo Boo sang she was overwhelmed until she couldn’t sing anymore. So she just stood there and she wept.

And suddenly, that wasn’t enough. The incredible weight of having so many stories to tell, but not knowing if she was good enough, talented enough, if what she wrote would ever find a publishing home … the weight was so heavy.

Writing is a risky business. One can easily spend a lifetime penning words and never see “success.”

Added on to that weight, Boo Boo thought of that camp blog that she’d refused to write.

She felt the panic of it, the added burden of what she should be able to do and couldn’t. There were so many things to get done, and the list never dwindled.

She didn’t hear a voice. Instead, she felt a twinge, a nudge, an unease.

And that not-a-voice in her heart was so very clear.

“What if I want you to write the camp blog?”

She was the one who lived right there at camp and had been looking for a way to be involved while still parenting her three small sons. She was the one who loved to write, collect stories, and take pictures. And despite it being one of the hardest jobs she or Scruffy had ever done, Boo Boo loved camp.

Who else could take a story about a camper’s grubby feet and tell the gospel?

Who else had a front row seat to the Glory that God accomplished at camp every single week?

What if she’d been slogging along for the last eleven years, learning how to craft her words just right … for something other than a book contract?

What if God had stirred in her the desire to tell stories for such a time as this? A time when people needed to be transported to camp, to laugh, to cry, to wonder at all that He could do in the lives of simple people who ran smack into Him and were changed. Did God still send Esther moments? What if those moments didn’t look like one expected? What if writing and life and ministry didn’t look at all like you thought it would?

Boo Boo felt a new weight on her heart. Now that she had considered the possibility that she was called to this, she suddenly knew something for certain.

She was disobeying God.

Sometimes, it is easier to tell when you are disobeying God than it is to tell that He wants you to do something in the first place. With that weight of disobedience … not guilt … not outside pressure … actual disobedience to Him … Boo Boo knew for sure.

God wanted her to write the camp blog.

Weeping, she hit her knees in the middle of that crowded room and she said yes.

Yeah, she absolutely would write the blog.

Now, God didn’t say not to write novels, angsty or otherwise. He just said to write the blog and that He would give her the time for what was important. Sometimes, it is harder to trust God with our limited time than with other more tangible things.

On December 22nd, 2012 Boo Boo posted her first blog post for Camas Meadows Bible Camp. That was ten years ago today.

No one ever bought Boo Boo’s angsty YA manuscript … or the one she wrote after that.

Boo Boo plugged away writing her stories and very few of them were published. In fact, she has 27 unpublished book manuscripts languishing on her computer. But she wrote that blog, week after week, year after year, cataloging what the Lord has done at a little Bible Camp hidden on a remote meadow in the Cascade Mountains.

She told the story of that time Scruffy worked all week to befriend the grumpy kid … and found out at the Friday night campfire that he had hidden away a gun and a bullet at home. He’d told himself he would go to camp and when he got home, he would end his life. But that kid stood up during the campfire and said that he’d changed his mind. He was going to go home and he was going to live.

She wrote about that incredible off-trail hike where a whole cabin worked to get a camper who used a wheelchair through the woods, over logs, up a hill, and to the top of the ridge to see the amazing views.

Every single week contained so many stories, more than could be recorded. The bully who became a friend. The broken kid who started watching out for others. The one who learned to apologize. The one who learned to forgive. The camper who came to Jesus and the camper who did not … but for the very first time met Christians who were determined to live a life of love, no matter what their campers believe. Endless stories, endless beauty, endless work to do.

This blog is ten now. That means it holds a decade of those stories. Now, this photo was taken the year before Boo Boo started the blog. But it is still a good representation of what she and Scruffy’s life was like at the very beginning. This was the year she refused to blog, after all. Those busy little boys who kept their parents hopping are all taller than Boo Boo now. In fact, they all worked at camp last summer.

Ten years later, Boo Boo may not have sold any angsty YA novels, but she has Scruffy and three tall and sarcastic teenagers, and the knowledge that she obeyed. She wrote the blog. Then she kept writing it for a decade. God has used her simple words and quickly snapped photos to do His work. Sometimes ministry looks totally different than what you expect, but if it is God asking you to do it, it is important all the same. Obedience itself is success. So please, enjoy the blog. Each story and photo is a gift of love, even the ones that are blurry or weird (see foot photo above). God is so powerful and gracious, that He still makes beautiful things out of our fumbling attempts to serve Him. Thank goodness for that!

Let’s end this 10th Anniversary Blog with Boo Boo’s favorite Bible verse.

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

Thank the Lord that we serve a God who gives second chances!

Boo Boo


We enjoyed four CamasCon camps this year. These retreats to connect Christian (although anyone is invited) tabletop gamers with each other and with their Lord. They are a highlight of the camp season. April, August, September, and November all host a CamasCon.

April and November have the normal CamasCon experience with campers who are thirteen + or campers who are 10 + but accompanied by a parent. In August, we have Family CamasCon where we provide child care for children five-and-up until dinner time, when families game together. In September, we offer a calmer CamasCon where all of the attendees are adults and hopefully no one needs supervision to keep them from flipping over the game board when they lose!

Since I am blogging about our recent fall camps, I will highlight photos from both our September and November CamasCon retreats with a few thrown in from the other camps for good measure.

There is such a variety of games and gamers at CamasCon! From those who love a long ten-hour grindy game that is heavy on strategy, to those who are more like myself and only play as a way to connect with others.

Now, Parks definitely has strategy, but since these ladies talked me into playing, you can be confident that it is also easily accessible and lends itself to a relaxed and friendly type of game play.

Twilight Imperium … well that is a whole different animal. These gamers are sitting down to an experience which may well involve planning their strategy in minute detail for ten hours, only to have Scruffy, Ragnar, or some other aggressor blow up their home planet two seconds before they win the game.

There are those who live for that epic battle experience and there are many, many games just for them!

There are also just as many games that fall somewhere in the middle.

It is pretty amazing the number of games that get played in a single CamasCon weekend.

But even with all of those games that need to be played, CamasCon campers pause during the day to connect with their Lord. Here, VanHelsing leads the chapel time at the spring retreat.

He also plays and teaches games. I am not completely sure if this moment is chapel related, game related, or just Van Helsing related. You be the judge. What exactly is he doing?

For those whose brains begin to ache after hours and hours of gaming, there is always the option of taking a quiet walk out in God’s creation or sitting beside the fire with a good book and a furry friend.

Our cook, Ragnar, kept everyone extreamely well fed during their gaming adventure.

Sitting around a table together and connecting over a game is such an amazing way to make new friends and to draw closer to the friends we already have.

I have watched people connecting over boardgames both at CamasCon and in our own home for many years and I cannot express the great value of playing a simple (or brain-numbingly complex) game together.

I have even had multiple teachers from our local public schools ask Scruffy and I to bring in boardgames to play with their students.


To teach math skills and even more important, the skill to communicate with others and to both win and lose with grace.

Gamers need not be quite as close as Princess Leia Freyja insists on being, but nonetheless, CamasCon is a meeting of the minds, hearts, and passions of Christian tabletop gamers as they seek to grow closer with one another and their Lord.

Boo Boo

Senior High Teen Camp–The Action!

What do a camper’s grubby feet have to do with being an action hero? Those who attended chapel at Senior High Teen Camp know. But for those who didn’t, there is still hope, if you keep reading you too can discover the answer to this vital question.

Behold, in all their glory, a camper’s feet. This particular camper won fame or at the very least notoriety, for being able to contort her feet in this amazing manner. She also chased down hapless bystanders with these dusty toes. Some were impressed, some were horrified, all were amazed. I was so amazed that I snapped this photograph to save the camper’s talent for posterity. At the time, I did not realize that this picture and these feet would play a vital role in telling the story of Senior High Teen Camp.

Van Helsing’s theme for the chapel sessions this week was The Action. His theme verse for day one, James 2:17–“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Of course, such a theme demanded watching some film clips that featured explosions, taking a quiz concerning the many action hero idiosyncrasies including why they are inclined to hold a pistol sideways (the bullets hurt more!), and holding a contest where campers and staff competed at holding the best action hero pose!

What? These things don’t seem very . . . Biblical? Stick around and I’ll share one of the great mysteries of camp ministry. Some things may look less heroic the more you investigate, like actors and/or campers posing in front of a flaming backdrop in full costume.

However, there are some things that seem less impressive initially, but suddenly grow amazing when you see the whole picture.

Camp chapel sessions may appear rowdy and haphazard at first glance. Give them time. Stay for the whole week. You won’t be disappointed with the things God can do with a handful of props, a flaming backdrop, and a few good workers intent in investing deeply in the lives of teens.

Teen campers are absolutely amazing!

Consequently, Senior High Teen Camp is also amazing. However, running a camp for teens is incredibly difficult. Why? Today’s teens are dealing with adult problems before they’ve even had the chance to grow up.

They have already walked dark roads by the time they rush into the lodge on that first day of camp. For many, their parents have already divorced. The family circle they thought they could count on is showing cracks. Teens have to make adult choices when they are still children. Alcohol, sex, drugs, the pain of toxic relationships, the pressure of sports, the stress of scholarship, the need to decide on a career path and take the steps necessary to attain their goals. Add to that the weight of all their friends problems as well. Being a teen is exhausting and incredibly high-pressure.

So many teens come to camp already deeply broken. They may look grown-up and have many grown-up decisions to make. But because they are children and do not have complete autonomy, many teens are also struggling under the burden of the choices made by the adults in their lives. Being a teenager is incredibly difficult. I am so proud of the many amazing teens that I know. Hug your teen, folks (or try to, ha!) they are superstars!

After a long school year, summer always comes, and you wouldn’t guess at the pain they carry watching these brave teenagers march through the doors of the main lodge at camp. The entire room crackles with energy and you should hear these kids sing!

Epona led worship this year and when she started playing the opening chords of the song “Stars” by Skillet I heard several campers say “yes!” and even saw a fist pump. There is something breathtaking about worship at camp, it always blows me away.

In the summer of 2016, Epona was a counselor in Bear’s Abode cabin.

Counseling a cabin full of campers is physically exhausting and emotionally draining. It takes all that you have and then some to care for these children with a parent’s eye for safety, a teacher’s eye for growth, a party planner’s eye for fun, a therapist’s eye for emotional health, a pastor’s eye for their spiritual journey, and God’s own love for each of them as His precious sheep.

Not an easy task. In fact, without the Holy Spirit, I don’t think any of us could do this job.

And so in 2016, while her campers slept, Epona stood alone on the Bear’s Abode stairs looking up at the night sky and singing “Stars” as she recovered from the tasks of the day and sought her Lord for strength and wisdom for the one to come.

In 2021, Epona was our worship leader. She decided to teach “Stars” to the campers that year. We worshipped outside that whole summer and it became a favorite of both campers and counselors. At the campfire on Friday, we looked up at the stars above and sang about God’s great love for us. It was such a beautiful moment. This song speaks so clearly of God’s power in our lives.

It is that power which enables us to take action that glorifies Him. To actually live out James 2:17 and be a people who don’t just believe in Christ but act on that belief in tangible ways.

On Tuesday, Van Helsing’s theme was Fists of Prayer! He spoke on how the Christian life takes strict training and hard work, but when you put in the time you get a huge payoff . . . especially with prayer!

I Corinthians 9:25–“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

During the chapel times, Van Helsing had a lot of fun with the action hero theme.

Action heroes are over-the-top awesome. The drive too fast and never crash . . . or if they do, that crash mysteriously propels them to safety. Action heroes are always witty, always find love under the most unlikely circumstances, and never seem to need to sleep, stay properly hydrated, or comb their hair for that perfect windblown look.

However, the cinematic explosions and ability of action heroes to only get a single decorative scratch on one cheek when a whole building and/or dinosaur falls on them only emphasizes what Jesus said about the kingdom of God not looking like we expect it to.

Jesus is the one who called us to action and His idea of what constitutes a hero flies in the face of what we normally see in a summer blockbuster.

Matthew 20:16–“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 23:11-12–“The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 22:27b–“But I am among you as one who serves.”

Sometimes we think we know what a hero looks like . . . and then we see Jesus.

John 13:4–“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.”

Sometimes an action hero looks less like someone walking out of an exploding building and more like someone taking over a tired volunteer’s spot on the dish crew.

One of our support staff crew shared how meaningful it was that the support lead watched out for them and made sure that they got breaks when they were tired. A hard worker, she was used to being valued for her work ethic, but not always simply for who she was.

This same girl talked about how she had struggled to glean meaning from sermons in the past, but had soaked up so much from the chapel sessions. How much easier it is to hear of God’s love when His people sit right beside you, showing love in ways that you can see for yourself.

Sometimes a hero looks less like someone flying a fighter jet to inspiring music or battling a marauding mummy in foreign lands and more like a counselor letting his rambunctious crew of boys rearrange the bunk beds every single day for cabin inspection.

After a week of crazy ga ga ball games, slip-n-slide antics, the “bushwhacking hike” where half the camp followed Hiccup down from Weathertop straight through the bushes as he made a way with his machete, and the most insane skit of all time . . . of course his campers would let him pray for them around the campfire after they stood up and shared.

Truly, our Lord knew what He was talking about when He commanded us to serve rather that strut. To love when anger is the sensible reaction. To look to the needs of those around us, trusting that in His great love, God would care for our needs as they arose. We are indeed called to action, but as a different kind of hero.

Sometimes being a hero looks like respecting the person you disagree with.

Two of our senior staff believed differently about what the Godly course of action looked like when a decision needed to be made. I remember praying, stressing, wondering what God could do when the way seemed so clear to two different people. But what was clear to one individual who was faithfully following Christ was completely different from what was clear to the other who was also faithfully following Christ.

They talked, and you know what, both still hold to some version of their same opinion. However, they listened and showed respect. A third senior staff member was asked to attend their meeting to provide an impartial view of the discussion. She told us that it was one of the most powerful moments at camp for her. Not because they came to an agreement, but because they disagreed, were able to talk about it in a humble fashion, and left the discussion having honored their Lord despite their opposing opinions.

You never know how God will use you. Sometimes, the mightiest work of the day may come just from simply keeping your temper.

We do a lot of crazy activities at camp. From whipped cream pies in the face to zombie-themed night games, camp life is rowdy from sunup to sundown.

Then there is the fact that teen campers will make everything even more rowdy themselves. Yes, a simply day swimming in the pond, can turn into a mud bath for no apparent reason.

During Wednesday’s chapel session, the theme was Lock ‘N’ Load. God provides an arsenal of high powered weapons to help us face the enemies and challenges of life – the Bible.

Van Helsing pointed out that many action heroes have a black bag full of important action hero gear. When the bullets and exploding cars are zipping right past the hero’s ears and it seems like all is lost, they reach into that black bag for just what they need at just the right moment.

Just like Arnold packing his black bag for a final showdown, we can be confident that God has not left us defenseless. He has called us to action, but has also given us the tools we need to learn what actions please Him and why.

On Thursday, Van Helsing’s theme was The A-Team. The Action is not a solo mission!

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

Van Helsing talked about how we are part of The Body of Christ, we were never meant to act as lone heroes, we are part of a team.

For him, he has four different kinds of people who have been a huge support to him in his journey with God.

THE MUSCLE: the one who prays.

THE BRAINS: the one who studies the Word (and provides Godly counsel).

THE HEART: the one who makes sure your needs are taken care of.

THE RECON: the one who is an accountability partner

With these four specialists on your team, answering God’s call to action becomes much less overwhelming. God did not design us to work alone. He calls us to support one another and expects that we will need and accept help from others as well.

On Friday, Van Helsing’s theme was Blockbuster!

Imagine the moment in a blockbuster movie when all the heroes band together and charge the great evil that threatens to destroy the world. Like this epic scene, when we live our lives the way God wants, we can accomplish the truly incredible through His amazing power!

John 14:12–“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

As Scruff and I worked through the highs and lows of the week, what many people don’t know is that we have many other tasks weighing upon us.

This year we are still grieving the loss of a beloved staff member and sometimes the pressures of these additional tasks combined with that loss means taking a moment to simply hide and weep.

And then life goes on.

Scruffy goes back to direct camp and work on projects and I wipe my eyes and haul my camera out to where the campers are having a water fight.

During one such moment, I had just stopped the tears of stress and grief long enough to head back to camp, my trusty dog at my side.

Princess Leia Freyja heard something on the lawn up ahead. Her ears came up, her tail started wagging, and she hustled me toward a camper who sat by herself sobbing.

Isn’t it just like God to get you through your tears just in time to hold another as they weep?

So, Princess Leia Freyja and I sat beside the camper while she cried and listened to her once she could talk once more. Why was she weeping? Because everyone had been so kind to her.

Let that soak in a minute.

This camper wept because of the kindness of the body of Christ. There are those to whom kindness is something they do not expect to encounter. No wonder it is a fruit of the Spirit. No wonder gentleness is one of the great actions God calls us to. No wonder patience and self-control are products of His presence in our lives.

God has called us to action. He wants us to be heroes. Just be careful to remember what Jesus says a hero actually looks like.

John 13:14-15–“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.”

In the spirit of this, Van Helsing asked Scruffy if he could wash his feet during chapel.

Now, up at camp with all of the sweat, dust, and outdoor play that occurs people’s feet get nasty dirty. We may not be in Bible times back when only the lowest servant washed people’s little piggies, but we are still highly aware of the general uncleanness of feet. We do this job ourselves, in quiet solitude, letting someone else do this grubby task is incredibly humbling.

But isn’t being humbled what Jesus actions were all about? He was God. God Himself with us in this dusty and broken world. He humbled Himself because He was the greatest among us and needed to show His sometimes unreliable followers what being a leader really meant. Being humble, stooping to do the untidy job, maybe even allowing someone you love and respect to do that job because they have asked to. Each of these is humbling. It puts us right where Jesus wants us, serving as He served.

So Van Helsing took action, humbled himself, and washed Scruffy’s feet.

Then Scruffy, recalling our Lord’s words of: “Go and do likewise” asked one of our new C.I.T.’s if he could wash her feet. She was a camper that week and yes, it was ironic because she had been chasing people around with her grubby toes all week long. In fact, I took a picture of them because of her antics and her feet are featured in the photo at the beginning of the blog.

Now this was awkward and initially she laughed and joked . . . but she has also known Scruffy for a long time. He was important to her and we love her very much. And somehow what had seemed so silly took on a gravity that she didn’t seem to expect. This camper began to cry as Scruffy proceeded to wash her dirty feet.

Then some left for cabin time and some stayed to pray for any who wanted support and one brave camper came forward and Van Helsing washed her feet, too. The same camper who had wept on the lawn with Princess Leia Freyja and I.

Yes, there are action heroes among us. You just might not be warned that they are around by the sound of an exploding car.

We saw counselors and campers taking God’s call to action seriously. They went from pranking each other’s cabins one moment, to standing with one another in prayer and tears the next.

Camp forges close relationships. So close that campers trust us with their hard questions about God. With their heartache and brokenness. Even with their dirty feet.

Teens carry incredibly heavy loads. At the very least, here at Camas we can give them a raucous week of rowdiness and laughter. Gazing up at the stars together, singing praises to God. Finding friendship and fun in a cabin full of kids who may be wildly different . . . but deep down are just like them. Experiencing kindness from the staff. Gentleness and a listening ear.

These simple joys seem small when compared to the rising tide of anger, hurt, and darkness that threatens to sweep teens away. But take heart, God uses the simple things of this world to shake nations and change hearts.

Again and again we watch the impossible occur at camp, right before our very eyes. God takes the simple joys of rowdy games, new friends, kind counselors, and a listening ear and He produces greatness out of our humble service. Once again, Scruff and I sat weeping at the campfire on Friday night as the campers shared.

They loved the food and the games and the dog . . . but they also felt safe, found friendship, and told us they had found a home.

“This is the happiest place I’ve ever been,” one camper said. “The happiest place in the world.”

They learned things about God that made their hearts burn. They opened their Bibles for the first time in years. They heard what the gospel actually was. They sang. They wept. They saw the stars. They gave Christians another chance. They gave themselves another chance. They realized that they were loved.

God calls us to heroic action.

Then He steps down among us and does the work before our very eyes with nothing but a group of broken people, our humble bumblings, and insistent attempts to love like Him.

Behold, the power of the action hero!

Philippians 2:5-8–“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

*To preserve their anonymity, I do not post a camper’s story below their photograph.

Boo Boo

Middle School Camp 2–Journey to the Strong Tower

During Middle School Camp 2 our camp speaker, Faramir, talked about journeys.

Before camp even began, I had the delight of hearing about two incredibly entertaining campers as they made the journey to camp itself. As their folks drove them up the camp road, they were chanting in the car. When they spotted any staff member that they knew from last year, they would chant their name. “Epona! Epona! Epona! Epona!”

“There’s Hiccup!”

“Hiccup! Hiccup! Hiccup! Hiccup!”

They weren’t excited for camp or anything, ha!

And thus, the shared journey that we call Middle School Camp 2 started with a bit of chanting and a whole lot of energy.

Faramir shared during chapel about his own journey to God and how campers can choose to abide in Christ themselves and find their strength in God as their strong tower. But unbeknownst to him, one of Scruffy’s long-ago journeys came full circle in an amazing way this week.

As many of you know, Scruffy didn’t find Christ until he was twenty-one years old and in the beginning stages of alcoholism. A friend from his hometown had been his roommate several times and was shocked to discover that when Scruff decided to follow Jesus, he also decided to stop partying. That friend teased him a good deal about this decision, but Scruffy didn’t let it ruffle him. They remained friends but over time, life happened and they lost track of each other.

This week, that old friend brought his daughter up to Camas to be a camper. He laughed at how much he’d teased Scruff and took a quiet moment to say that even way back then, he’d respected him for making those tough choices.

One person’s journey with God absolutely can encourage another person to seek Him, even years and years later.

There are so many ways that the Lord uses our travels through this world. Many that we would never have chosen for ourselves, but that bring blessings all the same. Two of our girl counselors saw an unexpected twist in a journey that began last year during the 2021 summer camp season.

They had previously counseled a cabin together that had stretched their skills to the limit.

There were many things that made this cabin a challenge including some very tough questions that the campers had about God. So many hard questions! One of their campers had also struggled with being kind to others. Both to the other campers and to the staff. It takes a great deal of patience and sacrifice to live out love for someone who is struggling to be kind.

That camper came back this year! Her counselors were struck by God’s powerful work in this young woman’s life in the year that they were apart. She was having loads of fun, energetic, a joy to be with, and kind. She zoomed through the camp activities making new friends and delighting in each new experience.

Oh how great are the commands of God upon our lives. He demands love just like His towards others and that can be hard. But look at the incredible blessings that can come. A struggling child might just need a week full of loving examples to find the strength and ability to walk into her own future with kindness and grace. May we give each precious one we see the honor of being treated in the same way that God has treated us.

Faramir also talked about how God is our Strong Tower. He gave the example of when a doctor puts a cast on your broken arm. The cast does not remove the pain of your injury. Yet, without the cast, healing is uncertain. The cast stabilizes your injury so that the break can mend, grow strong again, and be useful to you once more. God is like that. Our strong tower in times of trouble.

Another example Faramir spoke on was of trying to hold a pile of sand in your hands. On your own, it just keeps slipping through your fingers.

But put that overwhelming pile of sand into a bowl and suddenly you are strong enough to hold and carry it. The strong bowl holds the sand firm and now you can carry the entire load. God is our strong tower. It is in His strength that we find our own.

One of the camp counselors, Samurai, said that his favorite moment of camp was celebrating the birthday of one of his campers. Now, cake is always fun, but it was the campers reactions to his attempted surprise that really was the frosting on that cake.

He had to run all over the camp to gather each one of his campers for their surprise cabin birthday party. But once he got them all into the small meeting area in Bobcat, he realized that they would see the cake when he brought it in.

A “brilliant idea” came. He would make the campers wait in the bathrooms while he got the cake. He urged all of the campers and his CIT, Chat Noir, into the bathrooms. It was pretty cramped, but he told them to wait.

One of the campers shouted out through the closed door, “This is a hostage situation!”

Chat Noir corrected this alarming and untrue statement, “Don’t say that.”

Therefore, the camper again shouted through the bathroom door, “We are NOT allowed to say that this is a hostage situation!”

Following this, they accidentally put the wrong number of candles on the cake, ended up with trick candles that wouldn’t go out, and an entire cabin of boys enthusiastically blew on those irrepressible candles about twenty times before they were extinguished. What you have there is quite the camp memory … although, not the most germ-free frosting situation.

It is not an accident that incredible moments of spiritual growth often happen at camp. It is the very things that appear to be completely unrelated to the gospel and studying God’s word that actually help build the groundwork for many mighty God moments.

Leaping into the pond with your cabinmates looks like simple play at first glance. What it actually is, a powerful shared experience that creates a bond with new friends and builds trust between campers and the camp staff.

It is the same when they play night games, gaga ball, disc golf and zoom down the slip-n-slide.

Christ didn’t simply pull the golden rule out of a hat for laughs. Loving others with the same care and passion that you attend to your own interests is an incredibly powerful force. It heals hearts. It changes lives. Christ loved us through death itself and it changed everything. Even our small attempts to follow in His footsteps have the power to shake the world and bring life into dark places.

How do kids need love right now?

There are so many ways. Too many to name, but after listening to children share all summer, some of the ways are burned deeply into my memory.

Children need friendship. Sitting around the campfire (LED due to fire danger) out in the meadow, I heard child after child share about their hurt. Voices cracking with emotion, tears filling their eyes, fearful to say anything but compelled by something deep inside to be honest, they stood and shared.

“I don’t have any friends at home.”

“The kids at school make fun of me.”

“I didn’t think this was going to be a good week because I didn’t know anyone in my cabin.”

“None of my friends believe in God and I feel so alone.”

Do you remember the incredible joy of having just one good friend in junior high? Someone to talk with, to share funny moments and a laugh, to weep on, to hug, to listen to. There are children who have no one.

These children come to camp holding a fragile hope. Maybe here, in this place that says it belongs to God, they can make a friend.

Children need family. So many campers mourn their family losses at campfire. The parent who died when they were young, left them, divorced, or was never around in the first place. At the same time, so many campers speak about camp in terms of family.

“Camp is my home.”

“I feel loved here.”

Or quite literally, “Camp is my family.”

One camper who didn’t have a mother figure said, “Orchid is like my mom, this week and the week before.” Why did she come for two weeks of camp? She felt loved here and children need family.

There was even a camper who said, “Camp is like my emotional support animal.” Now, any of you who have gotten snuggles from Princess Leia Freyja the camp dog will know that this is a high compliment, indeed!

Children also need the outdoors. Screens and indoor things take up so much of our lives. Children need to be outside, seeing God’s creation and running around doing real life activities. Children need to get the chance to really live.

Do not discount the testimony of a child at campfire who talks about how much they loved playing capture the flag, hiking out to Inspiration Point to look at the stars, or dousing their counselor in the dunk tank. Children need a safe place where they can be kids. It is such an honor to sit around the campfire and realize that they had a wonderful time doing camp activities.

One staff member compared the camp program activities to salad.

Partake calls salad, “A dressing delivery system.” Program activities are like that. They are about relationship, loving God by loving one another. Program activities facilitate growth in our relationships and breaks down our walls and enables us to love better and to love well.

Our camp nurse this week was a bit baffled by all of the wild activities. After campfire she spoke with tears in her eyes, “Now I know why you do all these crazy things.”

You see, so many children shared this week that Scruffy tried to wrap up campfire three different times. “OK, everyone. It’s time to head back to the lodge …” but one more child would stand up to say that they had felt safe, loved, noticed. That they had made friends. That they had learned something new and amazing about God. That they had loved the camp food, “Dude! It just melts in your mouth. It was really good gravy!”

That they had simply had fun.

And yes, a bunch of children raised their hands during chapel wanting to follow Jesus. It is the fun of camp which makes this incredible ministry possible because children need love and they feel loved here at camp.

There was a fun moment at the beginning of campfire that I want to share. Some of the girl campers had flung their arms around each other’s shoulders as they stood around the campfire singing. They stood together and swayed to the music. Epona arrived late and noticed that there was a camper who wasn’t in the circle. She went up and put her arm around this camper’s shoulder and they stood and sang together.

Once the song was over, the camper said: “We’re outside the circle. That was really awkward.”

“Let’s join the big circle,” Epona said. She and the camper squeezed their way into the circle and flung their arms around the other girls. Epona helped this camper to march right up there and take her place with the other girls. She helped her to be brave.

But something funny was also going on during the singing. Edelgard had her arms around the campers and was swaying as they sang. Across from her, a particularly pesky camper caught her eye. She gave Edelgard a mischievous grin and started swaying in the opposite direction. Everyone struggled for a time and then got straightened out … only to have this camper get them going in the wrong way all over again.

One camper stood up at campfire and said, “I like that Faramir told his story. Most pastors act like their lives are perfect, but I realized that he had troubles, too.”

Another camper shared, “I’ve been afraid. I felt this fear following me but I feel like I can let it go. You guys can too, because God is God. We don’t need to be ruled by fear.”

When talking about that beautiful, somewhat never ending campfire, Scruffy said: “Campfire was so powerful, the way kids shared about meaningful stuff was really really cool. It just emphasized how important what we’re doing here is. We’re spending time in the lives of kids. Every time we spend a week getting worn out and exhausted, your labor is not in vain. It is desperately needed. The fields are ripe for the harvest … but the workers are few. When we do ministry the way we do, it hurts. Eph. 2:10, we’re living it out. We saw that in kids lives. Here felt like home. Here felt like they were accepted and loved when they didn’t feel like that at home.”

Yes, kids need camp because they need love. We are here to be that love to them, to show them Jesus, who is love come down just for them.

Ephesians 2:9 and10–“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

John 13:34-35–“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another”

Boo Boo

*To protect the anonymity of campers, I do not tell a camper’s story beneath their photograph.