CamasCon is about board games. It’s about 35 guys and 2 or 3 gals sitting around in pajama pants and slippers playing Settlers of Catan and Dominion and Battle Star Gallactica until 4:00am without getting up to pee much less going outside to breath any fresh air. But CamasCon is also much much more and thanks to John, one of our regular gamers, we are about to jump past the boards and bits and the fact that Scruffy always plays red and dive into the strange beauty that lies within this odd unorthodox ministry.
Green Meadow is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of CamasCon. I have this game I play called Castle Merchants. It is a light strategy game in which players take on roles of various merchants who are racing around the board trying to sell their wares. It is a race between the players—whoever can make the most gold wins the game. Castle Merchants can be a frantic game at times and players can feel a sense of urgency to get to a castle before another player. In a player’s endeavor to arrive at a high paying castle before another player, he may find himself expending more cards than he desired too. If he is left with a small hand of cards it can handicap him for the rest of the game. Luckily, there is hope though. In the middle of the board there is a place called the green meadow. This is a place where a player can go when he has exhausted his resources to replenish his hand.
We live in a culture that is constantly on the go and we are all under a lot of pressure to race for more gold. In my own life I have felt the toll of this pressure. A few years ago I was working at an exhausting job, which didn’t have a future for me. I worked about seventy hours a week and I never slept. I had just come through a divorce, which I never ever intended to go through. I was struggling to find peace in my life. At this time I was tempted to draw away from my friends. This is around the same time my friends and I started getting into strategy games. I found strategy games to be an incredible escape for me.
In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge describes the need we, as men, have to feel a sense of contention, or valiance, or adventure in life. We all have a deep desire to contend against something, which we need to overcome. In our culture this longing can be hard to fulfill; especially if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the daily grind. And our culture wants to deflate us and tell us masculinity is thing of the past.
In my own life I have struggled with my masculinity. I grew up with no dad and three older sisters. Until my junior year in High School most of my closest friends were always girls. I have always been more in touch with my feelings and emotions then most guys I know. It has only been the last decade or so, in which I have started to think more like a man. Some say men and women are the same and they don’t think differently. I do not believe the Bible teaches this. There is a logic a lot of men have to the way they think: a logic, which helps them lead. A lot of men have learned to use their minds when making decisions. For me, this was a skill I used to lack. Being led with one’s heart and emotions can be a dangerous thing and it has gotten me in trouble on a number of occasions. In fact, leading with my heart is one of the reasons I married someone in such an irresponsible fashion, as I did.
The truth is God wants us to use our minds and our hearts. He wants us to submit them before his throne and to his will. Playing a 3 hour long strategy game is an excellent way to peer into the mind of men. For me, strategy games have been instrumental in helping me think more strategically in life. I tend to be a free spirit. I don’t like to plan things out in advance. But, God is bringing me into a phase of life where he is teaching me to live more strategically. As I am becoming more strategic and learning to plan my days out better; I finding greater success in areas of my life, which have often eluded me.
I believe strategy games can be a way in which men are able to fulfill the role of battle or conquest in their lives, which we so desperately crave. We sit across from each other and we try to surmise a way to conquer that great foe of ours—that one guy who always seems to be a step ahead of us. Some men hunt and some men fish, others play basketball. These are great ways to learn to be wild at heart, but strategy games engage the mind. Strategy games allow me to escape to a distant land, a distant place—where I am the conqueror; where I am the great Lord of the realm. This is all happening in the imagination, whilst at the same time I am trying to see if this might be the day in which I might actually do the impossible and dethrone my friend— Clint.
CamasCon allows us, as men, to have a place we can go to and battle against the mind and prowess of other men. In an ever increasing feministic culture this can be a powerful thing. But, CamasCon isn’t just a place of battling, where men can be men; it is also a place of rest and rejuvenation. When I first came to CamasCon, I honestly wasn’t looking for a spiritual revival, but that’s what I got. I was looking to unwind, play some games with my friends, and get away for a weekend. I achieved this, but I also achieved so much more. God used CamasCon to awaken me out of my spiritual complacency. I was really challenged by the speaker that year. I found myself spending some much needed time with God. CamasCon, for me, was a place of rejuvenation for my spirit. It was my green meadow where my hand was replenished. It was at CamasCon that God first started speaking to me about my need to go back to school, which I have now done.
The men at CamasCon are high quality guys and it is a deep spiritual encouragement to me to know that in another city and another place there are intelligent men out there who want nothing more than to serve their God. Each time I go to CamasCon I am able to play games with other guys and I learn more and more how they think and this allows me to grow in my own walk as a man. I really like how CamasCon has been set up as a place where we can come play games, have fellowship, but more importantly we can draw into God and remember the calling he has on our lives. It truly is a unique and much needed ministry. I thank God for CamasCon and Daryl and all of the men there. And I continue to look forward to the next time when I will be able to come there, contend, battle, and one day conquer them all. J
Sincerely yours in Christ,