Junior High Winter Blast is one of our favorites here at Camas Meadows.
This is such a fun age-group to host.
Junior high campers have the incredible energy and capacity for adventure of children.
But their thought processes are maturing and they are able to hold deep conversations about life, the Bible, God, and of course snow ducks!
Or rubber duckies, depending what kind of duck is available.
This camper brought ducks with her this year because … ducks! Later, her cabin was delighted when Boo Boo found a snow duck maker and gifted it to them. More about that later.
But as was mentioned earlier, ducks are only one of the topics that junior high campers can wax eloquent about! Here, the campers worship God together with song. It was so delightful to have a quick visit from Choco and Partake as well as the joy of listening to Choco lead us in worship again. These kids know how to sing and they rattled the lodge with their voices. So lovely!
Faramir was our speaker this weekend. His topic: Uncomfortable Jesus. What Jesus doesn’t make you uncomfortable with what He says and does in the scripture? Perhaps, you should take another look!
Ah, yes. The gifting of the snow duck mold. These campers were ready for duck adventures!
One of the activities at Jr. High Winter Blast was the snow sculpture competition.
Wait a minute … that isn’t a duck is it???
Oh, my! A large duck, holding both a heart and a loaf of French bread, with smaller ducks perched upon his back! That’s a lot of ducks folks. So many!
What is this determined camper up to?
She crawls across the ice-covered meadow, on a quest to bring a helpful shovel to her cabinmates so that at long last they can construct …
The grand canyon! Plus, assorted viewing platforms and cairns. Yes, this was indeed modeled after the lovely image on a camper’s t-shirt. Great job, girls!
What is Gamgee up to here? Boo Boo was told that he was being a bear, crawling around in the woods, doing bearish things. He was also gathering sticks to use in the cabin snow sculpture!
Behold! A snowman lounging in the bathtub in shades with snacks!
This cabin put some deep spiritual thought into their snow sculpture. This is Jesus’ tomb with the hill of Golgotha complete with crosses pictured above. Notice the very nice sarcophagus inside.
Later, these campers went above and beyond to create Mt. Sinai. Their Mt. Sinai even spoke, answered questions, and entertained passerby with quips about the state of the world. Yes indeed, there is someone inside the mountain. Don’t worry, Boo Boo quizzed him sternly about his ability to breath freely.
Sometimes, it is hard to get the campers going on the snow sculpture. Especially, when a snowball fight is so easy to arrange.
However, they finally had success and this awesome snow castle was the result!
This has been a great snow year at Camas Meadows. Here, campers and counselors are climbing the icy pile that the snow sliding off the lodge roof created right in front of the back porch.
But snow sculptures are not the only outdoor activity enjoyed during Jr. High Winter Blast!
There is always the famous Camas tube hill or The Hill as we call it!
This awesome tube run sends campers zipping! Often, they come back with faces full of icy powder!
Time to take a break for puppy snuggles with Princess Leia Freyja.
Back to more tubing!
Or even sliding without a tube! These campers wanted to form a train. We do not allow trains of tubes (due to the broken collarbones of Christmas past) but when they just slide down, campers don’t get up to the same speeds and can do trains safely.
It’s always good to get a group photo before the weekend finishes up.
The ladies of Sasquatch.
The gentleman of Robin’s Roost.
The gentleman of Owl’s Perch.
The ladies of Eagle’s Loft.
And finally, the gentlemen of Bear’s Abode.
It’s not just the kids who make goofy faces for photos, ha!
Princess Leia Freyja tries to get in a quick doggy kiss before Boo Boo snaps the picture.
Children who were totally new to the camp experience sang alongside kids who grew up coming to camp with their families long before they were old enough to be campers. The lodge shook as they sang together, played rowdy games of Sit Ball and Grog, and made friendships that may well last a lifetime.
Seven kids made decisions to follow Jesus and so many more were encouraged in their walk with God or even simply shown God’s love for them and that they are deeply valued no matter what they choose to believe.
We were able to walk away from the weekend knowing that we fulfilled our call. Love kids as they are, give them a delightful weekend of fun, offer them the words of life, and give them a chance to choose Jesus.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” I Thessalonians 2:8
The Summer Staff Winter Retreat is one of our very favorite Camas-run camps!
Scruffy started this camp in 1999 and over the years we have seen so many staff and potential staff form strong bonds of friendship and grow in their relationships with the Lord as they get the chance to be campers!
Yes, our counselors and the support staff that keep camp running behind the scenes work incredibly hard. This camp is their chance to be campers and to just enjoy being together as friends after a long summer of focusing on work and ministry.
Princess Leia Freyja is always thrilled to see the staff she remembers from the summer come back to give her pets and belly rubs. If this were a painting, I think it would be titled “Leia Rampant” as she gives a little hop before charging into the game of hockey.
Princess Leia Freyja is a puck hog and whenever she plays, she bursts straight through all of the whacking hockey sticks to grab the puck and spirit it away. We usually leave her in the main lodge, but she occasionally escapes and rushes to join the fun.
Scruffy was our speaker this week and between hockey sessions, snowball fights, and games of King Elephant he led the campers in thoughtful discussions about living in the tension of following God.
Yes, this is a game of King Elephant. It is harder to play than it looks!
What did Scruffy mean by the tensions involved in following God?
Have you ever read Bible verses that say we should be smart with our money and talents? Have you ever read Bible verses that say we should trust God completely to take care of us?
Another one is God’s call to selfless sacrifice and God’s call to Sabbath rest and self-care. Jesus Himself urged His disciples to get away from the crowds to eat and rest and Jesus Himself urged His disciples to pick up their cross and follow Him in a life of sacrifice.
We are uncomfortable with God’s word when it is confusing. But what if God wants us to live in that tension?
Yes, it is 100% true that He calls us to live faithfully.
Yes, it is also 100% true that He calls us to rely on His grace.
We had some amazing discussions as we dug deep into God’s word and the confusing but amazing ways that He shows His love, power, and care to His people.
There were also some amazing snow forts built and a spectacular snowball fight!
Rowdy games of chair basketball.
Quieter moments of board games, crafts, and time spent sipping cocoa and talking around the fire.
It takes an incredible team of volunteers each year to make our Camas-run camps happen.
Taking the time to pour into the lives of those volunteers and potential volunteers is vital.
Yes, they need to be strengthened and have the chance to grow closer to their Lord just as much as the non-staff campers do.
Time to rest and talk.
Time to enjoy Princess Leia Freyja snuggles or a raukus game of Grog in the dark.
Time to boldly guard a piece of firewood from the attacking team.
Or dig snow tunnels together with friends.
Yes, even time to be amazed that this tree fell a whole inch away from this camper’s truck and not flat on top of it!
Scruffy and I are always exhausted this time of year. We go straight from Christmas to Summer Staff Winter Retreat the day after, to a rental camp that arrives the same day that our summer staff campers leave.
However, this camp is so important. An important time of learning, connection, and just plain fun together in God’s creation. The camps this summer will be all the better because our staff had a chance to grow and connect during the winter months. Yes, God has called us to both carry our own load and to bear each other’s burdens!
The Lord of the Rings Camp: Fellowship of the King, of course!
There were fun costumes and action figures the campers used to make amazing stories and LOTR adventures!
Even Princess Leia Freyja dressed up. Clearly, she is a warg, complete with her grim warg rider buddy.
As well as leading us in many amazing Lord-of-the-Rings-themed activities, Van Helsing taught several chapel sessions that took the themes from LOTR and then explored scriptures that reflected those same themes.
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien was a catholic believer and that his friendship was instrumental in C.S. Lewis’ journey to God?
Not only did he write some pretty amazing books, but Tolkien’s faith shows in the themes, characters, and storyline of his fantasy epic.
Of course, there had to be some rowdy hobbit songs to dance to before chapel began.
Plus time to spend hanging out with good friends and even the chance to make new ones!
During the crazy LOTR obstacle course, participants had to build their team.
There were dangerous safety cones to battle with the sword.
As well as “the mines of Moria” to traverse …
… and the giant squid to battle!
Of course, what is a LOTR obstacle course without the Bridge of Khazad-dûm?
The giant squid went totally berserk when Van Helsing approached the obstacle course.
Was it his Aragorn costume … perhaps the wig?
The campers jumped into the theme with gusto and learned something about Jesus’ legendary sacrifice for them in the process.
This is a camp that many have repeatedly asked for over the years. Thanks to Van Helsing and his many creative uses of LOTR lore in both Bible teaching and costuming, Fellowship of the King was finally a reality!
Historically, we have always had our fall work retreat over the Labor Day weekend.
But for several years now, the increased fire danger in our area means that we cannot operate chain saws in late summer. The burn ban doesn’t lift until October and one of our main projects during the fall work retreat is to fell trees, split rounds, and stack firewood so that campers are toasty warm during the long, cold winter nights.
After several years of hoping that the fire danger would be better and we would be able to keep our Labor Day date, after attempting to have two fall work retreats one for wood and one for other projects, Scruffy finally chose an October date for the fall work retreat.
It was so wonderful to have the camp full of workers again!
There was a lot of work to do and God provided the hands to get it done.
The camp woodshed was almost totally empty.
Campers love to sit by the wood stove on chilly nights, chatting and drinking cocoa. This can’t happen without a dedicated wood crew toiling away to fill up that woodshed before the snow flies.
Everyone worked so hard.
From the people who felled the dead trees that had been killed by a pine beetle infestation, to those cutting rounds, hauling rounds, driving the camp truck, splitting rounds, and stacking wood, our crew got grubby and tired but accomplished so much.
Some of the rounds they hauled were so big that it took three people to carry just one.
Just getting them into and out of the truck was hard.
And it is a good thing our wood splitters had young backs.
Thankfully, Ragnar, our cook kept everyone well fed.
In the end, they got that woodshed filled up! We are now ready to host campers this winter. It’s a good thing too, we got over fourteen inches of snow all at once in November!
Thanks to all of these hard workers, when a camper comes in after tubing The Hill and grabs a cup of hot cocoa, there will be a warm fire for them to sit beside as they unthaw. Thank you!
People often tell me they wish there were camps for adults at Camas Meadows Bible Camp. Well, I have good news. There are! The Mountain Muse is one of those camps and I am happy to report that instead of getting dunked in the dunk tank or throwing mayo-drenched cheese at each other (please volunteer this summer if you are interested in these things) this camp involves sitting by a warm fire and creating worlds and words that honor our Creator!
We are writers and this camp is all about writing!
The goal of this retreat is to Escape, Renew, and Create. When writers can escape the pressures of everyday life that so often squelch the creative process, when we can be refreshed and renewed in God’s glorious outdoors, when we can learn new techniques and tools of the trade, when we can simply take some time to rest, then that is the perfect recipe for getting some amazing creative work done!
This year, we were incredibly blessed to be taught by award-winning Christian fantasy author Morgan L. Busse!
This is my favorite of her books, but I enjoyed them all!
For The Mountain Muse, we have just a small taste of teaching. At each meal, Morgan gave us about fifteen minutes of info on how to improve our writing craft. Then it was off to the races! Or rather, the chairs and couches. In the main lodge we enjoyed hours of silent writing time and in the small lodge we had space for those who love to listen to music or chat.
We got so much done and yet were also able to connect in deep ways about our writing craft and the God who gave us the ability and desire to write in the first place.
There was even time to sit and read quietly by the fire.
But lest you think that the entire weekend was a sedentary affair … behold! Proof that we went outside. In fact, this was a late night hike to Inspiration Point when the moon was so big that it made shadows and lit up the night so brightly that we could actually see pretty well even in the dark.
One of the best ways to help writers get more creative work done is to feed them! It is so wonderful not to have to worry about meals. Ragnar, Mithril, and Prism did all the work for us, leaving mealtime as a delightful opportunity to connect.
Then it was time to get back to work!
On Saturday afternoon, we took some time for creation appreciation. Princess Leia Freyja led the way as we took a short hike into the beautiful world God made. Mountains, meadows, and forests are all part of the environment at Camas Meadows and we got to see all three on our short, two-mile walk.
After a short break enjoying the autumn colors, you guessed it, we went back to writing!
And finally, after a full weekend of escaping, renewing, and creating … it was time to head home. Princess Leia Freyja sent us on our way with a bark and a wag. It was hard to say goodbye, but with any time of refreshment comes the strength to move forward with new energy and thoughtfulness. We made new writer friends, gained new writing tools, got down a bunch of new words, and are already looking forward to next year. Thank you so much, writer friends, each of you was a delight. I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things that you write in the year to come!
The first weekend in March is special. This is when we host our Junior High Winter Blast!
In 2020, Junior High Winter Blast was the last camp we ran before everything shut down. It was such a rambunctious time of laughter, fun, and learning about God together. Then we faced the heartbreak and pain of a long, quiet year without camps. That last Junior High Winter Blast was such an important reminder to us. It helped us remember the joy of serving God in a camp setting. To be faithful to God’s call, even though what He asked of us was so very hard. To continue striving after Him, no matter what that looked like.
Now, we have come full circle. A spring, summer, winter, fall, and another spring where we were able to host individual families, but not camps. An amazing summer of ministry. Yes that summer did include a whole lot of hoops to jump through, but it was so worth it. A delightful winter of hosting rental camps that wrapped up with us finally being able to run Junior High Winter blast once again!
It is so good to walk out of the desert for a moment and breath in the fresh air of victory! Yes, our walk with God travels some tough places, shadowed paths, and confusing seasons. God is just as close in the darkness.
However, the joyful craziness of Junior High Winter Blast provided an important time to celebrate, to remember that God also blesses us beyond what we deserve or can even imagine.
Hmmm … so what does one do at Junior High Winter Blast?
There is the all-important game … Oreo Face!
You guessed it. One must open an Oreo cookie and stick it to one’s forehead. Then through vigorous facial contortions, scooch that Oreo down to one’s mouth for eating! The first to eat their cookie wins!
There really are not enough times in life where one sticks a cookie to their head and makes faces to the acclaim of their peers. Perhaps our days would be a little more sweet, if adults adopted this practice! Office dispute, no problem! Oreo Face to the rescue.
Of course, not every activity can involve cookies.
What is winter camp without the famous Camas tube hill?
The answer well could be, “Less painful.”
It is very important to pace yourself as you charge into outdoor activities. A bit of adventure on the tube hill … followed by a mug of cocoa in front of the fire.
But the comfort of indoor activities can only take you so far. To build those truly memorable moments for sharing with your family and friends when you get home …
Means that campers rushed back to the great outdoors!
Then they recovered in the camp lodge with a fun board game.
And zoomed back outside!
Then back inside for building tornado-like-structures with Princess Leia Freyja!
Feast your eyes on this masterpiece, my friends.
Then remember that Radiant and Polaris built this Kapla block structure in a room teeming with exuberant middle school campers, staff, and even a 113lb dog.
Then, once the Kapla Tornado had stood victorious for some time … the campers played ultimate Janga, bringing the whole thing crashing down in epic fashion!
But not everything at camp is silly, for example, chapel time!
Well, I suppose there are one or two goofy songs. But then we get to the message …
Ha! I had you there. If you have ever gone to camp or served at camp, you will know that God uses absolutely everything for His glory! Even those things that at first glance, might just appear somewhat silly. Why are campers ready to raise their hands in quiet worship with their cabin? Because they have just been running around the room flapping their arms with that same group of kids singing “I’ll Fly Away.”
Why do campers listen during chapel, ask questions about God, and actually remember some of the things that they learned? Well, besides all of our many desperate prayers, camp speakers are special. They know and love kids and work hard to present the scripture in a way that children can gobble up.
This weekend the chapel sessions were just so amazing! I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time and they held my attention just as skillfully for me as for all those rowdy kids. Epona is a big fan of the Transformers shows and comics. There are a lot of different versions of the Transformers but one thing is consistent, Optimus Prime. The same actor has provided the voice from 1984 to the present and Optimus Prime has always been “Strong Enough to be Gentle.”
The joy just kept piling on higher and higher as we watched campers having a blast, meeting friends, and playing in the snow. But seeking God together during chapel was definitely one of the best things about this camp.
The more Epona has enjoyed Transformers over the years, the more it struck her that Optimus Prime reminded her of our heavenly father in a myriad of ways. Optimus Prime’s name literally means the best of the best–Exodus 15:11. Like God, Optimus Prime is a mighty warrior–Jeremiah 20:11, Exodus 14:14 and 15:3, 2 Chronicles 32:1-22. Optimus Prime protects, sacrifices himself for, and gently cares for the Autobots. He shepherds them. Ezekiel 34:1-16 (that passage made me weep as we read it again), Psalm 100:3, John 10:1-18 and 27-30. Just like both the old and new testaments use an image of a shepherd to show us what God is like, a simple children’s cartoon can be used to show just a glimpse of God’s power, gentleness, and love.
Just as Optimus Prime is always there, showing up with strength and caring when the Autobots need him, God is always there. Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 94:18-19, Matthew 11:28-30, Matthew 28:16-20. There are dark moments in the Transformers cartoon, tragedy strikes, friends are lost, evil appears to win. But Optimus Prime is always there, standing strong with those he loves. These beautiful campers were so attentive (I know, gasp!) as they heard again and again that God is strong, caring, and there to save them and make them His own. What an amazing weekend to be a part of!
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”
“Do angels have a hometown or do they just live on clouds without a bathroom?”
“How do I know God is good, if He has never done anything good for me?”
Welcome to the crazy-beautiful gathering of insanity that is Junior Camp!
These camper’s questions give some clues about how they (and we) see God, but how does God see us? The speaker this week taught on images, specifically how we were made to be image bearers. But first, let’s jump into what camp is like with this amazing age group!
Junior campers are joyful, undignified, a bit unhinged. They are a delightful cacophony of questions and wrestling, singing and screaming, leaping and napping, water fighting and praying, weeping and laughing, all rolled up with pure joy and faith and so much hope.
For the youngest of them, it is a giant spiritual leap to raise their hand during cabin discussion and ask why God created dinosaurs, violence, and poison ivy (yes, the counselor had an exciting time trying to answer these delightful little ones). For the oldest junior campers, they are mulling the kind of soul-deep concerns that trouble and stump adults.
As you might have guessed, that first question was asked in a cabin of nine-year-old’s and the second was from a cabin of twelve-year-old’s. Each query is vital as these little ones dip their toes in spiritual waters and consider a relationship with their Creator.
This age group is about a lot more than just crazy questions. They also make bold and interesting statements. Our speaker for Junior B was The Mom, mother of eight and a campus missionary with Cru. This week she was talking about how we are made in the image of God.
She used Legos and a $10 coupon to the camp store to illustrate the idea of being image bearers. Wanting to impress on these beautiful children the fact that just because we are broken images doesn’t mean that we have lost our value, The Mom took that $10 coupon and crumpled it, tore it up, and stomped on it. Then she gave it to a camper who was celebrating his birthday that week. “Will he still be able to get $10 of stuff from the camp store?” she asked.
“Yes!” The campers knew that the coupon still retained its value, even after so many difficult times, and so did they.
Junior campers are so very funny. At one point The Mom mentioned that she was pretty old. One camper spoke up immediately at this point. “Yeah,” he shouted, “your hair is gray!” I was sitting behind their cabin and this young man’s cousin was in front of me with his head in his hands. “Please don’t ask how old she is,” he whispered to himself.
“How old are you?” he yelled in a clear, strong voice.
But you know what? It was a perfect illustration of how our value doesn’t come from our age or our hair color. We are God’s image bearers and are priceless to him. When the speaker asked if anyone knew Philippians 4:8 that same camper took a deep deep breath and shouted out the scripture word for word. Weather we are precocious or quiet, we are so very precious in God’s sight.
Camp is important in so many ways. It isn’t just the chapel sessions that help children stretch and grow.
Having an adventure away from home for a whole week is an amazing accomplishment for kids this age. One of our guy counselors said that his favorite thing about the whole week was watching a camper who was homesick talk to his mom on the phone and then decide to stick it out for the rest of the week. By Saturday, this young man had gone from not being sure he would make it through the week to standing up at the Friday night sharing time and saying how much he loved camp. It is such an honor to watch children grow in strength and independence.
Camp is also a great time to try something totally new.
Who knows but that you might be a Ga-Ga Ball champion!
You will never know if you never try.
Some of these girls found out that they were incredibly talented at Ga-Ga Ball and some that it was something hilarious to do with a cabin full of girls who would soon become friends.
By the time this game was over, all were dusty, exhausted, and smiling.
Here, Princess Leia Freyja has strategically positioned herself between the girls playing Ga-Ga Ball and the boys playing Ultimate Mountain Croquet so that she can encourage one and all and of course get the maximum number of gentle pats!
These pictures were taken from the day that campers did, The Gauntlet!
No, this is not as terrifying as it sounds. Each cabin spends a set amount of time at an activity and then moves on to try another.
The campers go from disc golf, to archery, to mini golf, and finally Ga-Ga Ball as a cabin. Not only does this introduce them to some of the different activities that are available for the week, but it also helps them to bond as a cabin and make new friends.
The cabin who accidentally sends all their frisbees way way way off into the forest and then must spend an eternity crashing through the underbrush together looking for them together … stays together!
Of course the beautiful thing about doing an activity with your cabin is that one need not be fabulous at mini golf or croquet to have fun! This camper and her counselor are using the frisbees as fans.
After The Gauntlet on Tuesday came Pond Day on Wednesday!
These girls know how to leap into an activity with gusto!
While we certainly missed being able to travel to Lake Chelan, it was a delight to watch the campers enjoying the pond.
Weather it was jumping from the dock or taking a kayak out for a swim, this was a great way to cool off.
Everyone spent the long, hot afternoon getting exhausted at the pond before returning to camp for showers and a movie.
Thursday was horse day!
Campers got the chance to go on a trail ride with their cabin.
It was so fun to watch each child meet their horse before setting out on a ride.
You never know how God plans to use you during any given camp. I found myself going into a cabin discussion thinking that the Lord would use me to give a pair of very tired counselors a break or perhaps to have a profound theological discussion with this group of campers. What did God use me for? To make those counselors burst into uncontrollable laughter, of course. Apparently, I was the Lord’s comic relief as He worked within that cabin in very mysterious ways.
Laughter is good medicine and so I guess I won’t argue with God and ask for a different assignment. You see, this cabin was asking really tough questions. To let those counselors have a much-needed rest, Bomber and I took on one of their cabin discussions.
The campers were confused to see us. “Where are our counselors? We have LOTS of questions!” they said.
When I explained that we would love to discuss all their questions, these girls had an answer for us right away!
“No, we’ll wait for them. All of our questions are for our counselors.”
Instead of a deep theological discussion, the campers ate cookies, rolled around on the floor sticking their feet in the air, and talked about the camp dog. We did have a good prayer time and shared stories about those who have sacrificed for us and times we have sacrificed for others. But our discussion wasn’t anything like what I expected.
When I met those two counselors on the path after their rest, I explained that apparently their cabin had bonded with them more than they thought. They saved ALL their questions just for them!
The weary counselors bust into laughter. They laughed and laughed and laughed. They tried to stop but instead laughed some more. They stared at me and stared at each other and couldn’t stop laughing. It was very clear that God had not called me to help with the great spiritual questions of the world, but to remind two amazing young women that God had given them exactly what He needed to work in the lives of these highly inquisitive girls.
From watching the whole camp try to tell a pair of identical twins apart to having a cabin discussion that was so incredibly rowdy and loud (lots of wrestling occurred) that the neighboring cabin (one that was on a separate hill) came over to check on them and make sure they were all alive, the counselors had many favorite moments from this week.
One favorite moment was having a perplexed camper at the mini golf course ask, “What size are normal golf balls?”
“These are normal golf balls,” I explained.
“But they said this was mini golf!” the camper said.
Some of our favorite moments are things that we find out later, after camp.
When a camper had to go home a day early, it was so hard to say goodbye. Later, her mother wrote a note that amazed us. Apparently, this young woman had decided that she didn’t want to go to camps anymore after having a bad experience when she was younger.
Then camp wasn’t even an option in 2020. When the summer of 2021 rolled around, this mom started searching for a camp that was open and found us. She talked her daughter into giving camp one more try. This camper never shared her concerns about being here, she simply decided to give us a chance and jumped into the week, hoping that all would go well.
Her mom wrote that she loved her time at camp and was already talking about coming back next year. Although we had no idea that this camper was coming reluctantly, it was such a beautiful thing to be a part of her journey as she took a risk and learned to love camp again.
You never know what kids are going through behind the scenes.
The camp speaker touched on this when she talked about broken images. Each of us is made in the image of God, we were lovingly crafted and reflect something important about our Creator.
But the world we live in is hard. It is packed full of people who are making their own choices and sometimes we wake up battered and bruised. Whether it was something a parent or friend did or one of our own foolish mistakes, there will come a day when we look at ourselves and doubt that we carry God’s image at all. We don’t see it. What we do see is pain, struggle, suffering, and shame.
But what does God see?
A precious person, made to be like Him. A person He longs to welcome home as His child. A person that He sent His son to rescue. A person He is waiting for, like the father in Jesus’ parable who was waiting for his angry young son to finally come home.
God is like that. He is the worried shepherd who notices that one sheep is missing. He is the woman searching her house for that single, valuable coin. He is the broken-hearted father watching His son storm out of the house. He is waiting for us to take a step on the road back toward Him so that he can rush out to meet us. He longs for that moment when He can pull us into His arms.
Luke 15:20–“So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
I was in the meadow at dusk, watching the campers sing “I’ll Fly Away.” They used the entire meadow. The worship leaders were back at the fire pit but the campers had flown.
The motions for this song involve spreading your arms like wings and rushing around the room. The campers flung their arms wide and zoomed all the way to the end of the mowed grass in the meadow. They were just little dots in the distance flying and flying and flying.
Camp is a raucous affair.
Whether it was the identical twins “multiplying” in their skit on the story of creation, the Squirrel Cabin’s skit that was so unintentionally funny that Scruffy literally wept with laughter, or the fact that a camper was actually injured while doing the motions to a song (yep, he tripped on a root while “flying away” landed on a bench and hurt his leg), the camp experience is undeniably rowdy.
Trauma Trooper, the camp nurse, actually quantified some of this. She treated eight bloody noses, used nineteen icepacks, twenty-three Band-Aids, treated twelve lumps and bumps, nine bites; stings; and rashes, and had five instances of vommiting.
But even amidst all this rowdiness, or perhaps because of it, God’s message rang clean and clear.
You are made in the image of God. Nothing can change that.
No amount of pain, injustice, sin, or destruction can alter the fact that you are made in God’s image.
No force on earth can reduce your value and even more than this, God wants you as His very own.
Rush into His arms child.
Come on home.
Luke 15:5-6–“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”
How did a weird tangent during cabin discussion about the omnipresence of God lead to a scary story about the boogie man, morph into lots of dancing, briefly shine as a fairly accurate reflection of the speaker’s theme for the week, and then result in the camp’s winning skit?
The amazing powers of God as He works His wonders in Middle School Camp through rowdiness, confusion, and more beauty than we can possibly imagine. I will get back to The Boogie Man Boogie, but first, let me paint a picture of life during a camp for this amazing and delightful age group.
First, Princess Leia Freyja greeted incoming campers at the registration tent. Check-in looked a bit different this year due to COVID restrictions, but the individual car-loads of people coming through the line six feet apart only made it easier for the camp dog to make sure that everyone had the chance to give her belly rubs.
Once campers got their stuff settled into cabins, they played a game of Whomp-Em on the lawn. Not only did campers work to learn each other’s names, but they got the joy of whacking each other with a pool noodle!
Once most of the campers arrived, it was time to head down to the fire pit and meet all of the staff.
Campers listened as all the counselors, support staff, cooks, nurse, and speaker share their favorite “Soup or Hero” with the group and introduce themselves.
Of course, Princess Leia Freyja took the opportunity to meet all the campers one more time, just in case one of them had failed to give her a pat at registration.
Clearly, the girls in Robin’s Roost did not miss any opportunities to give Princess Leia Freyja loves and snuggles.
A very important camp activity is running up the hill to the cabins and back down to the main lodge or the meadow, then up the hill to get some forgotten item, then back down. The counselors do this healthful sprint more than their campers as they accompany them up and down and up and down. Here Hiccup and Samurai start the week out with a few trips up to the Squirrel House with their campers.
On Tuesday, campers enjoy The Gauntlet! No, it is not some terrifying medieval challenge. The Gauntlet is simply an afternoon spent traveling between five fun activities in cabin groups. Our new disc golf course was one of them.
The Gauntlet also features another kind of golf. Mini golf!
Campers also got to play basketball …
While taking important breaks to pet the camp cook’s visiting doggy.
OK, dog patting finished, the campers moved on to more activities!
Extreme Mountain Croquet!
And slip-n-slide! Oh, wait. That wasn’t part of The Gauntlet at all. It was fun though and should definitely be included in our documentation of Tuesday’s events.
Don’t these girls make you want to jump on the slip-n-slide and give it a whirl?
Sure, you hear a lot about how stressful junior high is. But in many ways, the middle school years showcase the best of both worlds. The frolicsome fun of childhood with the thoughtfulness and spiritual depth of adulthood. This hilarious group of girls remind me of all that is wonderful about working with junior high students.
On Wednesday morning, Scruffy and Princess Leia Freyja led the campers on a hike to view the mountains across the meadow.
Yes, this gorgeous view is well worth the hike. But something even more amazing happened on the way there. Truly, God uses the strangest things for His glory!
During the hike, one camper kept peering at each flower we passed and asking if it was a rare flower. Lupine, Scarlet Paintbrush, fading Sunflowers. None of these were rare, although they are all lovely.
She had a family member back home who loved gardening and this young lady really wanted to show them a photo of a rare flower. My heart sank. We do have rare flowers here at Camas Meadows, but the Wenatchee Larkspur weren’t blooming yet. We also have several species of fragile flowers, the Mountain Lady Slipper and Trillium which are unlikely to grow back if picked. But these bloom earlier in the year and were long gone. I knew that there was one more rare flower in our meadows, but I didn’t know how to identify it and had no idea when it bloomed. Nonetheless, I prayed about this camper’s desire and then we continued on our hike. Even as I admitted that seeing a rare flower was unlikely, the determined camper paused to investigate every blossom. We rounded a corner in the trail and saw a group of DNR workers across the meadow. They had scattered small flags everywhere. What on earth were they doing?
They were marking the exact locations of some rare flowers! The Wenatchee Mountains Checker-mallow. I had not even thought of trying to find one of these blooms as this was that pesky flower I was unable to identify. A simple hope and prayer. A girl wanting to see a special flower to show her loved one. God saw this and answered in such a beautiful way. Not only were they blooming, but there was a plant biologist with a master’s degree in rare plants on hand when my feeble plant knowledge failed. When we are weak, He is strong! So here it is, the Wenatchee Mountains Checker-mallow in all its quiet beauty.
When I looked up this flower later, I was shocked to see that it only blooms in five locations around the Wenatchee area. To be fair, I was told this during my much grumpier teen years and had forgotten, failing to absorb the importance. Camas Meadows has the largest population of this rare plant in the world. Not only is the flower rare, it is also endangered. One website claimed that the Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow was “the rarest known plant in Washington State.” Whether that is true or not, I would say that God answered this camper’s hope and prayer with a vengeance! We even got to have a lengthy chat with the plant biologist as she personally pointed out various blooms for me to photograph.
God’s work is mindboggling and lovely. This week He even answered my prayers about the camp photos. Catching the perfect moment, a lovely smile, the warmth of a hug, the essence of camp ministry, that’s hard to do. I was trying to get pictures of the Eagle’s cabin playing basketball, hoping for some wonderful smiles. Well, what I got were expressions of grim determination as they worked hard to get baskets.
Until my niece threw a ball that smacked right into me!
This amazing photo was the result.
We laughed and laughed about my near maiming.
Then I was blessed with this beautiful picture to send home to her mom! Yes, God answers prayers and He also uses all of our fumbles for His glory. If my lack of flower knowledge does not stop Him and my propensity to be in the way brings Him glory, what will the Lord use next?
Well, it was pretty sad that we couldn’t bus the campers to Lake Chelan for Lake Day this year. Lake Chelan is amazing, it is one of the top 5 clearest lakes in the entire United States. Nonetheless, we decided to help kids to cool off in whatever way we could. This resulted in the amazing Pond Day. Not only is the pond not Lake Chelan, but our lovely canopy tent was thrashed by the wind whipping across the meadow and broken. How on earth could God use that?
Good times with friends are not limited to days when you swim in crystal waters and the tent remains unscathed. That is such an important lesson for all of us, young and old alike. Resilience is vital to our walk with God and being able to find the beauty in the broken (and sometimes muddy) world around us.
Once we arrived at the pond, the campers actually jumped into (ha ha) to pond day activities with gusto.
It was wonderful to cool off, spend time in the sun with friends, and perhaps get a glimpse of a foot-long goldfish lurking in the shadows.
Nope, not one of the giant goldfish. But this camper has definitely spotted, chased, and even caught them before. Then again, he lives here and has all of the goldfish capturing advantages.
Another favorite Pond Day activity was kayaking.
Campers paddled around in the far side of the pond, while others swam in the near side.
Of course, if Pond Day swimming wasn’t their cup of tea, there was always Princess Leia Freyja to watch as she frolicked in her natural habitat.
What is her natural habitat? I think that position of honor is held equally by both “couches” and “soggy places.”
But whether it is a couch or nice patch of mud, Princess Leia Freyja knows how to get where she’s going.
Just point your snout in the direction you want to go …
… and leap!
Which incidentally, is also a great way to start the Pond Day fun!
On, Thursday, we tried something we haven’t done in years. Horseback rides for junior high campers!
Yep, middle school students still love horses!
I even got the chance to ride after I finished taking horse photos. I love to watch the camper’s faces as they meet the horse they will be riding and then start out on their journey around the meadow!
So, now we have arrived at Thursday night. Skit night! Yep, we are back to The Boogie Man Boogie. What exactly was the speaker’s theme that was so inexplicably illustrated by The Boogie Man Boogie? Finding your identity in Christ, of course!
Princess Leia Freyja is not surprised by God using strange things for His glory. After all, God uses her fuzzy presence and sloppy dog kisses all the time. Why not The Boogie Man Boogie? In fact, I overheard one camper explaining to her mom that she had been homesick on Wednesday but felt better because there were dogs!
So … back to chapel. This week, Chaos (the speaker), taught on finding your identity in Christ. One of the verses she used to help illustrate this important truth was 1 Samuel 16:7.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The junior high years are such an important time to hear this message. I think that each of us struggled through middle school, wondering if we would ever be pretty enough, athletic enough, smart enough, think of witty comments fast enough, or finally get cut off jeans (in my case) so we would have value to those around us. But Chaos reminded the campers this week that none of those external things are what give us value. Our identity is in Christ alone. It is by the great value that He placed upon each living soul that we must judge our worth. He is our redeemer, the great shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine to go in search of the one.
We enjoyed a wide variety of skits on Thursday and many of them used scripture. Including this very rowdy wedding ceremony that quoted key animal-related similes that are of course highly romantic.
Song of Songs 4:2a–“Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing …”
Exodus 9:17-18–“You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.”
I Corinthians 13:13–“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
” But the greatest of these is love.”
John 14:6–This is the way … nope, let’s try that again. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life …”
“…No one comes to the Father except through me.”
And some skits tried to answer the great mysteries of the universe.
Such as, “Why don’t airplanes have e-brakes?”
But finally, we come to the terrifying but very spiritual story of The Boogie Man Boogie.
Once upon a time, Hiccup and Samurai were the fearless leaders of the Squirrel House. One of the discussion questions was, “What does God being omnipresent mean to you?” An eager camper leaped forward with an explanation.
Eager Camper–“When it is 3:00 am and I hear the boogie man rat-tat-tating on the window, I know that God is there.”
As you can imagine, the cabin discussion deteriorated fairly quickly after that. But it did result in much debate, laughter, and further discussion. The campers discussed the Boogie Man and his rat-tat-tating for the whole rest of the week.
Then it was time to think of a skit. The campers knew exactly what they wanted to do! Their counselors explained to Boo Boo in an interview after camp that their entire skit outline consisted of this short but expressive list: “Boogie Man, scared, God, and also dancing!”
Amazingly, most of these highly-active young men were actually paying attention during chapel and had also memorized the Bible verses for the week. So the campers knew just the verse that would connect The Boogie Man Boogie to finding our identity in Christ!
In their skit, when the Boogie Man leaped into the cabin of sleeping campers, they immediately judged him by his outward appearance.
But all he wanted to do … was Boogie.
And so they did!
1 Samuel 16:7–“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
And that, my friends, is how a cabin discussion became a scary story, galloped off in a wild tangent, morphed into an amazing illustration of the camp speaker’s theme for the week, and won the Camas Meadows Skit Competition!
That is how God uses the rough and rowdy insanity of middle school camp in the hearts, minds, and dance moves of kids at camp. Not only were their skits filled with scripture, many of these campers raised their hands to show that they wanted to become followers of Christ that week. Many more indicated that they wanted to recommit to following the Lord.
God is ever at work in the strangest places and most baffling ways. Isn’t He amazing!
2 Corinthians 4:7–“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
As I sat in my writing chair doing cabin assignments, I heard the sound of an acoustic guitar on the hillside above our house. Worship in the outdoor amphitheater, which is a fancy name for a collection or old log benches that circle the inner slope of a natural bowl in the land between Squirrel Cabin and Mountain Panther. The sound of singing filled the forest with energy as it drifted through our windows. This was the first time I’d heard camp-style worship since March of 2020. I am so grateful that the Lord has called us to serve once more through the crazy beauty that is called camp ministry.
It can be challenging to jump back into something that has been lost to you for a year. Yes, camp was still ministering to individual families in 2020, but we hadn’t hosted a large group for over a year.
But the call was so very clear: in the remarkable way that God provided speakers, nurses, cooks, and counselors. So many small and large miracles have made camp possible this year.
From the camp intern who started having specific chapel session ideas long before we told her that we needed a speaker for our last Junior camp, to the experienced guy counselor who surprised us and just showed up at staff training, the Lord has amazed us with His provision.
When the staff applications stopped coming in, I crunched the numbers. We didn’t have enough experienced girl staff. I showed Scruff and we both stared at the cold hard facts. Would I have to counsel cabins this summer instead of take photos, edit photos, post photos for parents, and write the blog? How would people react to not having the daily updates on life at camp that they had grown accustomed to? We prayed, again. Once more coming before the Lord in desperate need. Then Scruffy got a message from a girl counselor who had just finished her degree and felt inexplicably called to reach out and ask if we had enough girl staff. What we didn’t know, she’d had camp on her heart since February and finally sent a text that she’d had on her phone for a long time. God knew and God was preparing His people to serve in mighty ways.
Scruff could think of one more person to ask about counseling, but he knew she currently had a great job. He almost didn’t send a message, but in the end, didn’t want to say no for her. So he asked. She had just given her three weeks notice since she’d accepted a new position. The camp we needed her for most, well, that fell right between jobs. She was free for that precise week of camp.
There were two weeks of camp where we still required a cook. Out of nowhere, God laid our on the heart of someone we would have never asked and she volunteered to come and serve at camp. Choco, who has been working a different job this year and hardly ever has days off, suddenly had some time off. He and Partake dedicated a huge portion of that precious time to camp in helping us with worship, an unending string of maintenance issues, and the more complicated camper check-in and check-out schedule that Covid-19 guidelines require.
Again and again, we watched Him provide for the summer in a cascade of small but deeply-needed miracles. Finally, we were training staff at camp once more. Counsel staff and support staff, all learning together. The art of washing dishes, leading cabin discussion, unclogging a toilet, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Service of every kind, vital to camp ministry, this was the week where we gave them the tools needed for the job.
During staff training, something happened that reminded us of the long-lasting power of giving of yourself wholeheartedly in ministry. Epona, one of our interns, was teaching on how impactful small acts of kindness are to campers during their week. Years and years ago, when she was a first-time camper, she was super-excited about her horseback ride. Garmin, her counselor, drew a picture for young Epona of her horse. Epona still has that picture to this day. It was so meaningful to her, she kept it for twelve years.
Well, it has been a long time since Garmin was at camp, but on a whim, Scruff decided to text her about how that one sweet act both encouraged Epona as a girl and gave her a tool for teaching future staff about how to connect with their campers. Scruff was shocked to see that he hadn’t messaged Garmin since 2013, but he sent the text nonetheless. Well, Garmin messaged back saying that she totally remembered that week of camp. Not only that, but she was particularly discouraged that day and had asked the Lord for word of encouragement. Then, here was this text from Scruffy telling about how her week at camp so long ago is still having an impact in campers lives as Epona teaches the staff using Garmin’s simple act of love as an example.
Staff training is beautiful that way. Young staff learning from older staff. Stories of camps of the past retold for a new generation. That video on how to unplug a toilet being shown just one more time! It’s not just the older staff teaching either. The younger ones have things to say as well and are constantly challenging us and brightening our days with their questions and insights. As someone who just sent her youngest son to staff training to watch him listen to lectures on both the magic of working the camp dishwasher and the simplicity and power of the gospel, I am so grateful that my sons can receive this training. Watching staff both receive and give to one another as we prepare for this crazy thing called camp ministry filled my heart and reminded me why we do what we do. Thank you Father, thank you for giving us the chance to serve You in this crazy and lovely way!
1 Timothy 4:12–“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Are your kids about to zoom off to summer camp but you’re not sure if they’re ready for a week away from home? Well, here are five things you can do to get them geared up and ready to go!
#1 Prepare them for some independence
Attending a week of camp is a huge right of passage for a child and a big step in their independence and growth! I was a camp counselor for many years, married a camp director, and worked training camp staff for years after that. Nonetheless, when our oldest went to camp I was shocked at how hard it was to let him go. We literally live thirty seconds away from the cabin where he stayed. It was still so very difficult and so incredibly good.
Up until that time, I had always been on hand. I talked to other adults for him when he was shy. I dished up the kinds of food he liked. I could tell by that slight weariness in his eyes when he was getting sick. I knew that he liked me to read to him at night and sing a song.
But you know what? Camp counselors can read and sing, too. During that week of camp, I saw something beautiful occur. Our son became part of a group of boys, thundering around with their counselor, totally independent from my hovering, having a total blast. He learned to go with the flow without me there to explain everything and smooth the way. He learned to advocate for himself by asking his counselor for help if he needed a buddy to walk the dark trails with or forgot his toothbrush. My heart ached and swelled with pride simultaneously when his counselor said that he woke with a nightmare and then fell back to sleep as his counselor stood beside his bed holding his hand. My little boy was growing up.
Prepare your child for this adventure by telling them to ask for help, think of strategies if they miss home (write a letter, read a good book at bedtime, snuggle favorite stuffed animal), and assure them that this week will give them vital skills for life and their relationship with God for years to come!
#2 Pack the right clothes
Camp is a place for running through the grassy meadow, pounding up and down the twisty dirt trails, or even playing a game of ga-ga ball immediately after a thunderstorm has left the ga-ga ball court slick with mud. Pack accordingly. We’ve had kids who only pack designer clothes, flip flops instead of tennis shoes, or even high-heeled snow boots with furry accents but no real tread. Prepare your child to enjoy the outdoors with a good pair of tennis shoes or even hiking boots. Sandals are fine, but if they wear them all week their feet will hurt and they might trip on the rough terrain or roll an ankle. Pack clothes that can get dirty. Pack for a wide variety of weather conditions. Here in the Cascade Mountains it can reach freezing temperatures at night even when it is sweltering in the daytime. Shorts and t-shirts, socks and sturdy shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants, a sweatshirt and pajama pants for lounging about, a modest swimsuit, a thick blanket to drape over their shoulders during the campfire, and plenty of clothes to change into. They will get grubby fast and packing a few extra outfits will be perfect for after that impromptu pine needle fight.
Pro Tip: Teach your first-time camper how to make bundles of clothes so that he or she can find an outfit for each day easily. Fold a pair of pants, a shirt, undies, and socks. Stack them on top of each other with the smaller items inside. Roll them up into a clothing burrito and then wrap a strip of masking tape all the way around the bundle. Have bundles for cold days and hot days. Now finding new clothes every day is easy and your camper is more likely to actually put on something fresh!
#3 Pack the right equipment
A flashlight! So many campers forget that it is dark here in the forest. Yes, we have electricity when the generator is on and for a few hours after that as the batteries give us power for a while. But eventually, the power goes out and it is quite dark. A flashlight and extra batteries will help your camper to go back and forth between the mail lodge and their cabin, rummage through their suitcase after the lights go out, or even read a book quietly in their bunk without disturbing the rest of the cabin.
Some camouflage, dark clothing, or even a black cape/gorilla mask for the night games. It sure puts a damper on playing Mission Impossible when you only have a bright white sweatshirt and get captured right away. Do you have a retired soldier in the family? See if they might donate their old camo for your camper’s night game adventure. Head to the thrift store to see what’s been donated or ask grandma to sew a black cape with a hood. At the very least, pack one set of dark clothes including dark shoes and socks. Your camper will smile when they dig through their suitcase and see that they are ready to plunge into the night in disguise.
A sleeping bag and pillow. Yep, sometimes campers forget these important items. Make sure that yours is prepared. For younger campers, a special stuffed animal can make their bunk feel like home. I have loaned out many stuffed animals over the years and of course the camp dog is always available, but a stuffy from home is a special touch.
Toiletries! Yes, they will still need to brush their teeth, run a comb through their hair to remove pieces of bark and lichen, and maybe even wash their faces and hair. Sometimes campers arrive hoping that all of these things are behind them. Our counselors will kindly urge a continuation of basic hygiene, but it sure helps if they have a toothbrush!
A good book. There is very little down time at camp, but we do have one hour of FOB (flat on bunk) in the afternoons and some campers have trouble resting. A good book can also help them settle down at night if they are all revved up after all their adventures and can’t sleep.
A Bible, notebook, and pen. Yes, we have Bibles that your camper can borrow, but it is always nice to have your own and a notebook and pen can make the chapel sessions even more meaningful as your camper jots down things from their week.
#4 Leave some things behind
Does your camper think that they cannot live without their phone, a fine collection of stink bombs, a pair of matching machetes, or their five angry cats? Yeah, they will be fine without those. One of the main benefits of camp is disengaging from the digital world. So, leave that phone behind and bring grandma’s old camera or a single-use disposable camera instead. And the stink bombs, yes, pranking at camp is a fine tradition but all pranks must be cleared by the interns and anything that destroys property weather through a horrible stench, sticky duct tape residue, or a mountain of shaving cream … well, these pranks do not gain approval. If your camper is longing to hone their wilderness skills and learn to use a pocket knife correctly, sign up for our spring break survival camp. But for all other camps, leave those knives at home. Yes, my sons once smuggled a pet chicken into their cabin, but I found her and brought her back home. Please leave your pets behind and enjoy Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog, while at Camas.
#5 Be ready for different
Camp is not like school, home, or church. Camp is different. That’s one reason we love it! Sometimes campers are alarmed by this. I have fielded many questions from children about camp. “Where are all the video games?” or “Why are there hand motions to the songs?” or “Why are kids pounding their cups on the table, chanting, and racing around the lodge during dinner?” or in the case of my sons, “Why do I have to wear shoes?” Get your camper ready to enjoy something different. They’re going to love it!
Boo Boo aka Kristen is the granddaughter of the camp founders, the daughter of the camp’s first director, and the wife of Scruffy (the current director). She began her career in camp ministry in the dish pit with her best friend at the age of fourteen. They were terrible dishwashers but eventually got the dishes clean after swamping the floor with an inch of water and screaming whenever they had to touch discarded food. Her three sons are now involved in camp, too. The oldest is a counselor, the middle son is cook’s assistant, and her youngest is following in her footsteps with dish pit adventures of his own. Please shoot her a message or call if you have questions about camp or your camper. She has also been known to track them down for you, take reconnaissance photos while hiding behind trees, and post those reassuring pictures on the camp facebook and instagram pages so that you know your camper is alive. She believes that camp is a vital adventure, both for childhood health and joy as well as for our growth as followers of Christ.