A summer of camp ministry wrings you out and scrapes you dry. But it is important. Because after you are all done, when all that you have is spent and still more is needed, God steps in.
The night before Senior High camp Scruffy got 3 and ½ hours of sleep. Why? He spent an hour playing a board game with our three sons. They miss their Dad and they needed him. He spent time talking with busy and weary staff members until 10:00, because they needed instructions or encouragement or just a listening ear. Then he spent some time with me, watching a TV show, because he’d been busy with camp all week and I needed him too. After I went to bed, at midnight, that was when he started on cabin assignments and all the necessary paperwork to get another camp going the next day. Up before 7:00am for a vet visit and camp shopping and then straight into staff meeting and camper registration. Two, maybe two and a half hours into Senior High camp I found him on the camp porch staring out into the forest. We sat on the dusty old camp couch, holding hands. The dry, fragrant forest surrounded us along with the sound of kids in the meadow playing a group game. Scruffy quietly wept as he told me about a camper he had already talked to, hours into camp, broken by life and trying so hard to just be a normal girl. But how can you be just another kid having fun at camp, when life has given you a battle instead of a childhood. That was Monday.
Van Helsing spoke on the power of God.
The Power to Change
The Power to Fight
The Power to Love
The Power to Forgive
The Power to Surrender
We needed the power of God and that is exactly what we received. Pressed down and overflowing, more than we had asked for or could rightfully imagine.
Amazing things happened this week. We saw kids asking to mop. Asking to serve. Asking mind you, not dragging behind their counselor moping and grumbling and making snotty comments. Nope, asking. A young man previously overheard telling someone that kitchen work “sucked”, was seen kicking the support staff out of the kitchen so that they could take a break while he did dishes, even though he was a camper this week. A girl who said that camp was more than family to her. We heard things like “Camas is my home” and “This is the best week in my entire life”. A boy prayed out boldly “God, keep your hand here forever, on this Non-Judgmental place.”
Change happened. The power of God worked among us. God pushed kids forward, away from past hurts and defeats. Forward to heal and to love and to forgive. Van Helsing had been working on these messages for a year. On the last night he obeyed the prompting of the spirit, ditched/surrendered his message, and only spoke for five minutes. Then the campers and counselors prayed and worshipped together for three hours straight.
The Power of God at work, when there is nothing left in us, that is what we saw this week.
So many amazing things, but let me tell you just one. There was a camper this week, he’s been coming to Camas for years. As a junior camper, as a junior high camper, and this year he came to high school camp. Last year he described himself as an atheist. This year, he committed himself to follow God. Even though the cost will be high for him and he knows it, he boldly handed his heart to Jesus Christ.
On the last day of camp Scruffy wept again, standing before the campers, telling our story. How God has taken two people and given us love and life and made us more than we were before.
God’s Power, among us. It is amazing to behold.