Athena is a tough, fun, capable girl counselor. My boys love her because this girl knows how to wrestle. She picks them up and slings them around and isn’t the least bit ill-at-ease when three fierce little boys see her from across the room, grab up Nerf weapons, and run toward her screaming their battle cries. Most of my conversations with Athena have been quick exchanges in her classic gruff but loveable style.

But I had the rare opportunity to talk with her in depth at the Summer Staff Winter Retreat. I love it when you get a glimpse into someone’s heart and I was not disappointed with my peek at the thoughtful girl who lies beneath Athena’s fierce exterior. 

Athena graduated last summer, served at camp, and moved out of state where she is working hard toward achieving a lifelong dream of becoming a horse trainer. I asked her how her new job was going. She sighed. “I’m beginning to see that the little things matter. In Pennsylvania I can’t see the stars. When I came back to Washington for Christmas I discovered that I don’t really belong here anymore. But then when I came up to camp, I realized that this was it, I had come home.”

I knew that Athena was a good counselor, a fun individual, and superb at roughhousing. But I didn’t realize what Camas had become to her. I didn’t realize that it was her home.

When Scruffy and I were called to camp we had an idea of what working at this ministry entailed. But God’s call is so amazing, it is more and less complicated then you think. It is many different things. It is my husband over in the kitchen doing dishes this weekend because we don’t have enough dishwashers. It is sitting with a lonely child in the meadow during summer camps. It is telling someone of God and the glories He has brought to your own messed up life. It is wrestling with the Director’s kids when their mom needs to run and grab them a change of clothes. It is loving the people that show up, whether they are campers or counselors, speakers or nurses or kitchen staff. And sometimes it is providing a place. A place that is safe, where you know that you will be loved, somewhere to come home to after you grow up and have moved away.


Boo Boo



Maximus is one of our boys’ favorite counselors. He wrestles a lot, isn’t frightened when all three of them leap out from behind the camp couch and pelt him with a barrage of Nerf darts, and he is very very patient.

Maximus is one of THE RETURNED.

Most counselors serve at Camas for a few summers during high school, until life catches up to them and they are forced to get real-live-paying-jobs in order to earn $ for college. Once in awhile one of them will finish college and then inexplicably return. This is always a glorious blessing beyond what we could ask for or expect.

After the Summer Staff Winter Retreat last week, Maximus wrote something on his facebook that made me realize I had to interview him and find out why he keeps coming back.

Maximus–“I finally get home from winter retreat and I’m laying in bed and it doesn’t quite feel right. Then I realize every time I leave Camas, I leave a little of me behind, which would be why it’s a tug on my heart to leave every time.”

I asked Maximus what his first memory at Camas Meadows was. He laughed. Scruffy and Camo Man walked up to him, picked him up off the back porch, carried him off, and threw him into the dunk tank. He said, “Now that I think about it, events like that help break down our barriers and get us out of our boxes.”

About his years as a camper Maximus told me–“My relationship with God grew mainly through Camas, and without it I would probably be leading a very different life. Camas helped me through my parents splitting. It helped me through rough years at school. I don’t think I could count on my hands and toes how many times Camas has brought me back to the right path.”

Maximus was a camper for about five summers before he became one of our camp counselors. When asked about serving the kids as a boys counselor he said–” When I was a counselor it was amazing to know that the kids I was leading looked up to me and looked to me for help. Having gone through hard times myself it made it easier to level with kids who had a rough time.”

 Maximus is amazing to watch. He is so good with kids. He is great with my boys, as well as with campers, and counselors, and other camp staff. He manages to be fun, tough, honest, gentle, and real all at once. He has blessed both those he comes to serve and those who have the privaledge of serving with him. Maximus is both part of the reason we serve and part of who God has allowed us to become. We gave to him, but he has given back to us so much more than we ever expected. Thank you Maximus. For the years of wrestling and mayhem, thoughtful honesty and sacrifice, and giving us the honor of walking this journey together.

Maximus–“Camas is a safe haven for many people. One I have not found anywhere else.”



Boo Boo