Glorious

Scruffy was asked to speak in church last week. How did he express with only feeble words what camp ministry is all about? He shared a moment.

A moment that shows us that God’s call is not faulty, that yes those 20 hour work days in July are doing something other than giving Scruff gray hair, and that God is faithful to bring His glory into our shattered world.

The image was of a ten-year-old girl standing at the back in chapel, her eyes closed, her hands raised, singing “Everything Glorious” with the other campers.

“Boo Boo”, you might say, “singing happens all the time at camp.” And I would have to agree with you. But this moment was part of a story and God is ever at work in the stories of our lives, even those small quiet moments that we overlook.

A little boy came to camp one year and the next year he came back. When he walked into the lodge Scruffy remembered his name and he told us that this meant everything to him. He poured his heart and soul into camp and somewhere along the way he told Scruff about his cousin. She was so young and walking the kind of road that would overwhelm you and I. They conspired to get her to camp and succeeded. Seeing that little girl free of responsibility and strain for one glorious sunny week, pushed Scruff over the edge. She had to come back. There was no money for another week, but our local church came through and the little girl returned. And our worship band from church visited camp.

They played “Everything Glorious” by the David Crowder Band.

My eyes are small but they have seen
The beauty of enormous things
Which leads me to believe
There’s light enough to see that

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

  And the little girl stood in the back of the room singing, her eyes closed, her hands raised to Heaven. Because God’s church stepped into her world and sent her to camp, she had another week to be a child, a week to play capture the flag in the black forest, to hide an entire cabin’s shoes on the lodge roof, a week to pray and to cry and sing and to realize that even in the midst of a dark and terrible place God had made her glorious.

 

 

Boo Boo

 

 

 

The Wheelchair Hike

There are moments that stick. Memories that remain adhered to the heart years later, like the curling photos that cover the front of our fridge and the Elementary artwork that adorns my boys’ bedroom door. I want to paint a camp moment for you today. One of my husband’s favorites. The wheelchair hike.

 Ryan only came to camp one time. It was his freshman year in High School and his folks and big brother conspired together to make a week of outdoor adventure possible. Ryan has Muscular Dystrophy which confines him to a wheelchair.

Wheelchairs are not the most user-friendly means of getting around the bumpy grass meadows, narrow dirt paths, and steep mountain roads around camp. But with his brother and dad there to help Ryan navigated a week of camp with aplomb. They even managed to zip him up to Inspiration Point with the other campers in a large three wheeled jogger, but later in the week the group wanted to go off road.

This was the moment that stuck with Scruffy and Frodo and the speaker that week, and through their words it has stayed with me as well.

 Frodo and Abu, Ryan’s Dad and Scruff, these men determined to get Ryan to the end of the hike, without a road or even a trail. I talked to Ryan about that day and he remembered how the guys had to lift the jogger over logs while pushing him up the steep incline to the top. He told me about the hot sun beating down on them and the branches slapping back toward his face as they pressed on.

“I was just amazed and grateful to have these guys helping and working so hard to get me all the way up to the top.”

For Ryan it was an amazing hike that he participated in with his pears. For Scruffy it is an image he holds onto of God’s children at their best. One of those times when Christ steps down among us and we open our arms to His love and His ways and are never thereafter the same.

That’s the thing about Camp and about life as well. Sometimes it’s not just a hike. Sometimes it’s a moment. Sometimes it’s Him, right there with us, you just have to recognize the miracle around you and obey.

 

Boo Boo

The Art of Plunging a Toilet

There comes a time in life when you want something terribly. Something that is difficult. Something that is going to cost you. And you finally want that something badly enough to pay the price. For some people it is a sport, a job, a mission trip, a college they want to attend. But something comes into your life that pushes you over the edge and for the first time ever you bust your hiney off to accomplish that task.

For some kids, that something is to be a camp counselor.

They have been a camper for years. And they have been watching the counselors, admiring them, envying them. Then they turn 15 and the possibility is before them. If only they will fill out an enormous pile of paperwork, convince their parents and pastor and Scruffy that they are responsible, and pay for the privilege to learn the job at Staff Training…then they too can become a camp counselor, in training.

Many of them give up, but some of them will succeed. They will fill out the papers and get the pastoral reference and do the Bible study. Then they arrive at camp to be trained for something that they really really want to do.

It is our privilege to open up the big beautiful world of work and sacrifice and labor and toil to these frightfully young individuals. We teach them how to sweep a floor so that the dirt hidden in the corners actually ends up in the trash. We show them how to plunge a toilet and clean out the dunk tank and how to sneak a urine filled sleeping bag into the wash before a child has a chance to be embarrassed.

We teach them how to set themselves aside for the sake of others and it hurts. Sacrifice is painful, especially that very first time. But then we get to watch them grow. We get to see them singing fast songs with bright-eyed Jr. Campers when all they want to do is collapse on the couch and snore through chapel. We get to see them restocking the bathrooms when they see the empty dispensers, when a week ago they would have just logged a complaint.

Yeah, it isn’t always pleasant to drag a group of new C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) into the real world. But it is also a privilege. Because we get to be the ones who tell them “Yes, you can do this.” And then watch them do something difficult and beautiful and important. And we get to see their eyes when they realize that yes, it was worth it after all.

Philippians 2:3-7–“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves, Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but make himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”

 

Boo Boo