MAMO, our camp speaker held up a transformer, then another, and another, until five plastic robots of various shapes and sizes cluttered the camp lectern.
How do you teach 1 Corinthians 12 to Junior campers? The very children who relish leaping about during the fast songs, but have such a terrible time sitting still during chapel?
Yep, these are the campers whose cabin discussion went much better, “After we confiscated the whoopie cushion.” Delightful and full-of-energy youngsters whose attempt to learn Biblical things was described by one of the staff as: “A lot of yelling and chasing each other around with toothbrushes!”
How exactly does one show these little ones that they are greatly loved by their Creator and designed with a purpose?
As a mother of seven, MAMO was not daunted by such a task. Before camp began, she prayed, watched, listened, and ordered a fabulous collection of transformers online that she had no idea how to put together!
Wahoo! The box arrived just before camp began. A colorful collection of teeny weeny plastic limbs, wheels, and befuddling bits that could have been a rocket launcher … but might also be a robotic elbow.
And so MAMO vamoosed unto camp, deeply hoping that faith was indeed the evidence of things unseen. For though the shiny sheet of directions that had accompanied her purchase declared her collection of colorful bits to be five mighty robots which when combined would form a single incredible robotic masterpiece of giant proportions, she saw nothing of the sort within the box that she held in her hands.
And so camp began! Crazy meadow games, wild worship, and an even wilder game of croquet at Lake Chelan. Yes, croquet can be rambunctious indeed! Who would have known?
MAMO jumped into the sessions, not knowing what would transpire if her amazing metaphor concerning “the body of Christ” turned out to be beyond the skill-level of all the counsel staff and campers combined.
While the five plastic robots toured the camp, going from cabin to cabin in a search for one who understood how exactly they were intended to combine, the chapel sessions continued.
She held up a simple but beautiful ceramic pot. Broken, but repaired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. The art of using precious metals to transform something that was broken into a thing of beauty, even more valuable than it was before.
“You are not an accident.”
“You are a masterpiece.”
The pure, unadulterated fun and rampant joy of camp roared along between chapel sessions. Night games in the forest, starlight hikes, paintball, and horseback riding galore. Amidst all this, those plastic robots made their way through camp, from cabin to cabin.
In the middle of the week we received an unexpected blessing. Like Gandalf the Gray appearing at the Battle of Helm’s Deep, Falkor arrived mid-week to assist Zooboomafoo with his cabin of ten boys who were more often eleven since they’d welcomed the camp nurse’s young son as their official mascot!
At the campfire, children described conquering their fears when they came to camp for the very first time. Themes that showed up around the flickering fire again and again where words about finding a family, a home, and courage.
Finally, the chapel session arrived that required five completed robots, combined into one, just like the body of Christ … this epic creation was no closer to completion than before.
So MAMO handed those tricky robots to her daughter and my youngest son, then she stood at the front of the room, behind the old wooden pulpit. As two determined children squinted at directions and sorted through plastic pieces, she began to speak.
“You are not an accident.”
“You are a masterpiece.”
The session came to its conclusion. MAMO glanced toward the back where the two campers worked feverishly.
Were they done? Was it even possible?
“Just let us put on the head!” The two campers seized the aforementioned piece, shoved it in place, and rushed the completed robot up to the front.
Five robots in one, combined to make a giant. Seemingly impossible to construct, nonetheless there he stood, just as the box had promised!
Not an accident, a masterpiece.
Designed with a purpose. Just like each and every camper who gazed up at the camp speaker while she held the robot high.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Middle School 1 was our biggest camp of the summer. With 65 campers, 16 counselors, our interns (yes, one of them had to counsel) and four support staff.
It was a delight to see the camp packed full of loud and rowdy kids. But this amazing week began with difficult news. A wonderful local school teacher, outdoors-woman, and worker for the Lord died in a tragic accident while on vacation.
She was a friend of ours, the mother of our oldest son’s good school buddy, and a light of God’s love in our community. Our staff and several campers knew her closely but we did not want to shadow their week of camp with such sorrowful news. So I watched as our intern staff broke down weeping, prayed, then wiped away tears and went back to leading the group. They threw themselves into laughing, shouting, raucous fun, all while deep inside their hearts were broken. I saw them sacrifice their right to grieve, so that these dear children could postpone their sorrow for one, glorious week.
It was a glorious week, indeed. Have you ever been in a room as 65 children sing at the tops of their beautiful voices?
Have you ever felt thunder rattle the room as 65 kids jump in unison to do the hand motions during fast songs?
Then when The Thing got up to speak, it brought us from laughter to tears again in an instant. What wrecked me, was his opening illustration about surrendering to God. He’d prepared the illustration weeks ago, but it truly rattled the staff in our moment of grief. He spoke about a seven day kayaking trip that he and his dad had taken, a trip which was led by the same man who had just lost his wife the day before.
Sorrow and joy, all mingled together. Isn’t that just like life? We follow a broken Savior into a broken world and yet, beauty breaks through all around us.
Yes, the second time she leaped, Meowth jumped even higher!
In keeping with The Thing’s theme, there were many stories of surrender throughout the week.
I was so proud watching the staff come together to keep track of one particularly active camper. The two guy interns and Scruffy jumped in to help. Boromir pulled a pillow and blanket outside to do F.O.B. with him on the camp lawn since laying still in the cabin was pretty hard for this young man. Then Bomber manned the life-guarding kayak even though this boy was the only one still out of the water. Her favorite moment of the week was watching him scream at the top of his lungs, full of pure joy, every time a wave hit his tiny watercraft.
When one of the girl campers hurt her ankle, the whole cabin rallied around her. They rushed to collect various items she might need and prayed for her together.
Yes, the boys had a blast playing golf with Stormbreaker, Zoboomafoo’s walking stick that occasionally wore a bow and showed up in a whole lot of skits on Thursday. But they also demonstrated their compassion and desire to serve, even amidst a great deal of wrestling.
MiniVan wasn’t feeling well, he had 12 campers who generated no small amount of energy between them. He was assisted by Flash and then Boromir just showed up at camp on Monday to counsel when we didn’t expect him. This was such a huge blessing as he was put to good use in this large cabin of boys. Well, an exhausted MiniVan was attempting to get the campers all calmed down, but one of the boys hurtled from the room. Where had he gone? Should MiniVan give chase? After a long moment, the camper rushed back with the rest of the cabin in tow. He had gathered them all so that they could pray for their counselor together.
Sis (our intern and Program Director for the week) told of when a camper pulled her aside and gave her a dollar. This sweet girl had realized that the canteen workers accidentally gave her an extra dollar in change. She had sought out Sis to make sure that the money was paid back.
One of the greatest joys of the week was getting the chance to serve with new Support Staff member, Zamperini. He is the son of the man who led Scruffy to Christ way way back in their college days.
But this fun personal connection was not what made the week so memorable. Although, Zamperini had already battled brain cancer and leaving home to volunteer at a location that is a good 30-45 minutes from the hospital was a risk for him and his family, this young man poured himself into work like no one we’d met before. He always had a smile and a high five for everyone around him and was constantly looking for more work to do! When asked what his favorite moment from the week was, Spectre (Camp Intern and Support Lead) laughed and said: “Every time Zamperini said, ‘I’m bored, they don’t have any more dishes for me.”
I had the honor of watching a brave, first-time Sr. Counselor and equally bold first-time C.I.T. take on their own cabin. We have watched both of these girls from the time they themselves were nine-year-old Jr. Campers. In fact, I was the one who answered the phone and walked one of them through the process of camper registration. Yes, as a fourth grader, she registered herself for camp and she has been blazing through the obstacles standing in her way ever since! The Lord is so good. These young ladies were a bit nervous about leading their first cabin, but a group of more respectful little girls would have been difficult to find. They asked to be excused from the table, checked in with their counselors constantly, and thanked them for leading their cabin! We had no way of knowing that these were the most gracious little girls of all time, but the Lord did and provided this special blessing of a first cabin!
Howitzer had to solo counsel his cabin when his Jr. Counselor went home sick. Though he was surely exhausted, we watched him wrangle a group of rowdy boys with grace and constant patience. Their skit with the bagels and the song that one camper composed and preformed solo, was amazing!
There were so many fun moments during the week, like when Epona explained to her camper about Joshua taking up the job of leading the Israelites from Moses and the camper shouting out: “Like Batman and Robin!” Or when Zoboomafoo sang “Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” for most of the 80 minute drive home from Lake Chelan until he actually reached twenty-some items which he had to spit out at super-fast speed several times per verse. “A quark on a tater-tot on the cell on the hair on the mushroom on the porcupine on the hole in the bottom of the sea!!!”
As is often the case, his cabin full of 13-year-old boys were themselves full of great peskiness and energy. Nonetheless, with this incredibly active and fun-loving bunch, Zoboomafoo did the impossible. Not only did they rush into night-games with full enthusiasm, they also cleaned their cabin (gasp!), memorized 99 Bible verses (wow!), and won the cabin competition and the much-coveted wheelbarrow of candy!
On the last night during campfire, we asked the campers to carefully consider what they would like to say and only share once. With 65 kids, the process would take quite a long time if everyone thanked their counselors, then thought of something they learned, then popped up again to thank the camp dog. One camper thought long and hard about what to say. When she stood up to share, she thanked the camp staff, including the Support Staff who do the behind the scenes work to keep camp running properly. The campers never notice the support crew and all their hard work! We were so impressed with this observant and thoughtful young lady.
Half of the campers said that their favorite thing about the week was The Thing’s chapel sessions. What? Yes, that is exactly what they said. The Thing has a gift for bringing God’s word down out of the clouds and smack into the hearts of kiddos and they relish the attention and care that he gives them as he teaches.
After one boy stood up to tell his story and then share about what camp meant to him and how it had changed him, a girl camper who had been listening whispered to her counselor, “That was really brave.”
Isn’t that what we are supposed to be as Christ’s church? The people who encourage one another.
The people who notice the hard work of those toiling behind the scenes.
The people who set aside their fun to weep with the hurting. The people who set aside their grief to rejoice with a child.
A people so deeply surrendered to the plan of their Master that they realize it is only He who can win the day. A people who truly belong to Jesus.
This week I got a glimpse of what it means to surrender to Jesus. It was such a beautiful thing to see. May we surrender to Him just as completely, all the rest of the year.
James 4:7-8a–“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
After a brutal, but powerful week with teens, the camp was flooded with a bouncing, smiling, laughing horde of 9 to 12-year-olds.
They raced around the meadow, zipped down the slip-n-slide, and thundered back and forth between their cabins and the dinning hall. As the whole group tromped up to Inspiration Point at night to enjoy the stars, one of them mused to a camp intern about spiritual matters.
“I wonder what it would be like to be stepped on by a dinosaur? That is the fourth thing I’m going to do in heaven, be stepped on by a dinosaur”
And that my friend, is the difference between Jr. Camp and Sr. High Camp. But please do not think that we are longing for the spiritually complex discussions and heart-wrenching honesty that teens are capable of. The simplicity and joy that envelope a week with young kids is a beautiful thing to behold. Let me wax eloquent for a moment upon the vital ministry and innate loveliness of Jr. Camp.
At Jr. Camp, everything is a huge adventure! For many of the campers, this is their first time away from home for a week. Some of them have never spent the night without their family even once and so just arriving at camp and staying is the craziest thing they have ever done.
Then there are all the new activities. Dunk Tank, Slip-N-Slide, Night Games, Lake Day, Cabin Skits … . New adventures await every day and these little guys charge through each day, soaking up every one.
There is worship, but unlike worship in any setting they’ve seen before.
Worship where you stretch out before hand to avoid a muscle injury. Worship where you leap and run and dance and shout and do so so many hand motions. But then there is the switch. After they are exhausted and happy and breathless with fun, Choco slows things down and they pray. Then he introduces quiet songs of God and His power and strength and love.
Then there is the unique opportunity to talk about God, not with their Sunday School teacher, Children’s Pastor, or Parents … but with that fun teenager who let them dunk him in the dunk tank, helped them prank the boys’ cabin, or raced across the meadow to unfreeze them during meadow games.
And the great thing about discussing the Bible lesson with a fun camp counselor and a cabin full of kids their age, is that even if they are too nervous to talk the first day, or the second, they still have days and days together to work up the nerve to share from the heart.
We had one first time camper who didn’t talk during the discussion until Wednesday. What happened Wednesday? She made a new friend in one of her cabinmates after a sun-soaked day at Lake Chelan.
Never be fooled into thinking that rowdy splashing, jumping off the dock together, and way way too much sunscreen cannot be used of God.
That is the beauty of Jr. Camp.
It is all about relishing the innocence of childhood. About being a kid on an adventure. About stretching your wings and seeing if you can have some fun, Bible lessons, triumphs, and even a few serious discussions on your own, away from home. Even if the whole cabin has to take a crazed lap around the volley ball court between every question because all those little girls are too bouncy to sit still for long.
Sure, one of the boys’ cabin might have spent a fair amount of time discussing whether or not one would smooosh into the earth if stepped on by a dinosaur or if it would simply crush you. But they also talked about heaven and getting the chance to ask Noah questions. They spent their curiosity on what they would want to discover about God’s creation once they died and had the ability to ask whatever they liked of their Lord.
One Junior Counselor talked about when the Sr. Counselor gave him the opportunity to lead the cabin discussion. He said the boys were pretty wiggly and that they did spend a fair amount of time throwing jelly beans at each other, but that they answered the questions honestly.
How many of us can say the same? Being honest with ourselves, God, and the believers around us is huge. These precious little ones are learning to do that. Taking a bold step out on their own and realizing that other people love Jesus besides Mom and Dad.
And as my own Jr. Camper somehow convinced his counselor to tote him down to the campfire while still snuggled up on his sleeping bag, hopped up to the fire to share, and then hopped back … I remembered again the pure delight of providing a week of camp for young people. Jr. Camp is truly a joyful adventure!
We were just finishing up Staff Training and one of the younger counselors pulled Scruffy aside. The choices and struggles of someone else had left this amazing young man feeling the despair of standing by helpless as a loved one spiraled deeper and deeper into heartache.
Then Scruffy got a difficult email from a teen camp parent that night. Their family had recently faced a tragic loss and she wanted her child’s counselor to get a head’s up that all was not sunshine and roses right now and her teen might need some extra care.
So we took our staff to our home church to sing on the last day of Staff Training, already heart-sore over the weight that we knew these teenage campers would be carrying when they came to us on Monday for a week of fun, camaraderie, and teaching.
We were in charge of leading worship and sang some crazy fast songs before settling in for a few of the powerful worship songs that sound so amazing accompanied by drum, piano, and acoustic guitar.
Then the guest speaker, an army chaplain and good friend, opened the Word to talk about pain. Scruffy and I wept through his story of a staff sergeant who lost her son to an accident. He then told of driving up to the home of two soldiers who had lost their baby to SIDS. Several officers stood in front of the house, afraid to knock because they didn’t know what to say. When he arrived they sighed in relief and rushed him forward. He was the chaplain! He would know exactly what to do!
Only, he didn’t.
He knocked on that door at a loss. He’d been a Christian long enough to know that belonging to Jesus does not erase the pain and platitudes only make the suffering worse.
When the door opened, he walked inside, full of the knowledge that he absolutely did not know what to do or say in the face of such grief. Nonetheless, he encountered something amazing. Kneeling by the couch and the grieving parents was the staff sergeant who had lost her son two months before. Her tears, her understanding, her fresh and terrible grief was exactly what this young couple needed. Not words, not assurances, not false happiness or the statement that something good was sure to come. They needed exactly what Romans 12:15 commands, someone to weep with them as they wept.
As we searched the pew for Kleenex, hands held tight, Scruffy turned to me. “Do you know what Van Helsing’s theme for chapel is next week?”
I answered that I did not.
“Broken,” Scruffy said. “His theme is broken.”
We had not hauled a single suitcase or sleeping bag up the dirt paths to the cabins. We had not smiled at a single parent, sent a single counselor to greet their new camper, or checked in anyone whatsoever with the camp nurse. But Scruffy and I and the speaker himself walked out of the church with just a tiny bit of fear and trepidation. What on earth was God planning for this week of camp?
On Monday, registration was in full swing. Scruff had just finalized the cabin assignments (there are always several last minute changes to be made) and needed a moment to pull aside one of the counselors and let her know what the mom of her camper had written about their difficult circumstances. With various people asking where he had gone and when he was coming back, Scruffy found a quiet corner and relayed the message. The counselor was amazed. The same exact rare tragedy had occurred within her family, that very year. For just a moment, they paused amidst the hubbub. God’s care was so clear and powerful.
And so we jumped into the week. During that first day, Van Helsing asked each camper and counselor to sign a commemorative pot he’d brought to camp.
He knew what would happen to the pot and yet found himself growing more and more attached to it as campers and staff drew little pictures, encouraging messages, and signed their names in their own unique ways.
During chapel, Van Helsing brought up something that had been made so very clear to Scruffy and I during church the day before. The world is full to the brim with hurt and heartache. It will not spare something, simply because it is precious to us. He had everyone stand up who had ever had a broken bone, a limiting physical condition, a bad sunburn, baldness, or bad gas. Eventually, all were standing. In one way or another, we are all broken.
And then he did the unthinkable. Van Helsing took that unique pot, the one with all the signatures, doodles, and sweet notes. He put it in the volleyball court beneath a giant tripod that Choco built, and he dropped a 40lb weight smack on top of it.
But the beauty of Romans 12:15 is that not only are we to weep with those who weep, but we also rejoice with those who rejoice.
Even with such a brutal reminder of the sorrow that surrounds us as the whole camp stared down at that poor broken pot, that honesty made it almost easier to relish the crazy fun that is camp.
Don’t underestimate the value of a week of water fights and crazy singing, cabin competitions and night games in the forest, taking a hike out in God’s glorious creation and racing to eat a marshmallow covered in spicy mustard. This is the only break that some of our campers get, their only week to be a child.
Amidst water fights, sand castle competitions, swimming at Lake Chelan, and even paintball and slip-n-slide, the campers of each cabin guarded a fragile blown egg that they had decorated and named.
As you might expect, during the Eggstreme Egg Challenge, more than one of these delightful mascots were broken.
Here, a guys’ cabin mourns the loss of their egg after they chucked it down the dock at Lake Chelan in a bold attempt to win the latest challenge and get the egg to the end of the dock and back.
As the different cabins struggled to keep their eggs from breaking during the rigors of the Eggstreme Egg Challenge, Van Helsing continued to both smash items with the 40lb weight and speak on brokenness.
He asked one cabin to bake a truly amazing cake. They made each delectable layer a different color, spread flavoring between, frosted it with care, and applied a gorgeous decoration of sprinkles. Then they put the name “Love” on the cake and Van Helsing spoke on broken hearts.
Even though the human heart is precious and designed by God for love, friendships and romance can be fraught with peril. But as one boy shouted out when the wrecking ball demolished this lovely confection, “Hey, that’s still good cake!” He attempted to eat it out of the dirt, and indeed, the girl’s cabin that baked it had brought their forks to the demolition.
I couldn’t help but stop and ponder that campers words. Isn’t that just like Jesus when we come to Him shattered. Perhaps it was our own mistakes that dealt the destruction. Maybe the sin of others running rampant through our lives or just the ugliness of a fallen world leaving casualties behind. But we are broken and we know it and yet when He sees us shattered and wondering if there is anything worth salvaging, the Savior shouts out, “Hey, that’s still good cake!”
Yes, so many kids in both Christian and non-Christian homes struggle with this heartache.
When Van Helsing asked a cabin to watch out for this special unicorn all week, they were concerned. “You’re not going to smash Dude, are you?” But when Van Helsing spoke on broken dreams, Dude’s fate was sealed.
We had so many different and amazing campers that week. Campers who were bold and loud, raising a hand in every discussion and always ready to give the speaker something to think on as he addressed the camp. We had campers who were so shy they wouldn’t talk at all. Each of them faced their own struggles and God was faithful to give help when we asked. Like that moment in staff meeting when we realized what it meant to a shy camper every time we used her name. Seeing a bold camper ask for help and a quiet camper stand up and speak in front of the whole group. Watching these kids learn and grow was a true honor.
Teens today face difficulties that have sent many an adult into a tailspin, but it is so hard to talk about what is truly and deeply tearing you up inside.
All those crazy illustrations, from a beautiful smashed cake to carrying around an egg named Lil Sassy, brought out laughter and tears and the ability to pause a moment and address that real thing inside that life has shattered.
If a decorated egg needs to be smashed so that a cabin can hold the pieces and speak of that family tragedy, the bully that was supposed to be a friend, that addiction, the terrible heartache that is making it so hard to trust God, well … smash away! Sacrifices, honesty demands sacrifices.
Those silly eggs, that shattered toy house, the sad and broken unicorn, they gave us a moment to laugh and then to weep because so much more is broken with us as a people than a tasty cake or a little egg with dog hair glued to its crown.
As amazing as each cabin egg was, as lovely and tasty as that gorgeous cake appeared, none of them compared to the value of each beautiful teen we were privileged to serve during the week.
And the hard truth was that, yes, they were broken, too. We all are broken.
Teens absolutely need those carefree moments and delightful rowdiness and fun. This is a balm to the soul.
But they also need honesty. So many teens are deeply hurting and they don’t appreciate the adults around them glossing over their pain and giving them platitudes instead of our hearts. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
But when we gather the strength to both rejoice and weep together, to face what life has dropped on us, to be honest and real, then we can look at the climax of the story. Jesus Messiah, broken in our place, broken for us.
And what about that young camper who was struggling through the rubble of a family loss? She debated about whether to share or not. I don’t blame her. It is difficult to be that honest, so hard to bare your heart. But eventually she talked with her counselor. As they spoke, strange coincidences started popping up. Both the camper’s family and the counselor’s family lived in the same town, faced the same trial, and even had the same name! They realized that they were actually cousins and would have never known if she hadn’t taken the risk and told her story. God not only gave this camper a counselor who understood her particular struggle, He introduced her to her family. A young woman who was a little older, had been following the Lord a few years longer, and was facing the same brand of hurt.
Even broken, especially broken, with such a Savior standing in our place, we absolutely do have the strength for what we face. For He has the strength and in the end, His strength is what will win the day.
So yes, Sr. High Teen Camp was an amazing week. A week where we rejoiced, wept, and were broken.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” –2 Corinthians 4:7
Here at camp, we just completed six days of intense training for this year’s summer staff. Much prayer and consideration goes into choosing our staff and when school finally lets out, we have the honor of training them for a summer of service.
So here are our staff on the first day of training!
“Wait a minute, Boo Boo?” You might ask. “That looks suspiciously like fun!”
Hmmm … yes indeed. It does look like they are having fun. That is not, in fact, accidental.
The staff actually spend a great deal of time sitting in the lodge listening to teaching sessions. They have sessions with Pastor John about counselling issues.
They have sessions with our four interns about the daily camp schedule, cabin management, different camper personalities, and camp procedures. They have sessions with other guest speakers whom I failed to photograph.
Then they have many, many, many sessions listening to Scruffy. Here he is talking about how to share the gospel with kids.
But lectures are incredibly boring to take photos of and we don’t actually want our counselors lecturing campers. So, not only do they need a break to get up and move around after sitting so long, they also need to hone their skills at vital camp activities like Chuck-the-Chicken, Archery Tag, Paintball, and Capture the Flag.
Princess Leia Freyja had to share her squeaky chicken with the counselors so they could practice this game. She does indeed love all campers, so she was willing to sacrifice, but was pleased to get it back.
While she waited, The Princess enjoyed one of her favorite pastimes. Taking goofy pictures with staff!
Not only did Princess Leia Freyja’s sacrifice allow the counselors to practice running in circles,
running in straightish lines down the meadow,
and throwing a rubber chicken in a remote, outdoor setting,
her sacrificial sharing allowed the staff to form the kind of bond that will last over a summer of intense service to kids.
This is another reason that Staff Training does not focus entirely on passing pure information on to the next generation of counselors.
We want our staff to be a true team and adding the goofy, the strange, the hilarious, and rambunctious to our training sessions may look pretty silly, but goes a long way toward fusing these young people into the amazing team that will be caring for your children all summer.
So meet our 2019 Camas Meadows Counselor Staff!
From the fresh new faces of our first-time C.I.T.s (Counselors In Training) to senior counselors with several years of experience, they were a delight to teach. Add our four interns, the support staff, and of course Choco and Scruffy and we are all set and ready for the campers to arrive. We truly would appreciate your prayers this summer! Camp ministry is the best job on earth, but it is not always as easy as a game of Chuck-the-Chicken in the meadow. Please keep us in your prayers and I will keep you all updated concerning our amazing summer adventures! Until next week … .
On Memorial Day every year, campers young and old and in-between grab up their chainsaws, work gloves, paintbrushes, and shovels.
They follow their fearless leaders into the fray, cleaning what must be cleaned, clearing what must be cleared, and doing every job needed for Camas Meadows to be prepared for a summer of ministry to children.
There may be some debate about which job to do first, where all the shovels have gone off to, and exactly where Scruffy wanted that pile of rocks moved. But eventually everyone gets a job, instruction, and bolts into the forest ready to conquer downed trees, potholes, and piles of pine needles!
With stern (and necessary) fire-hazard rules in place that prohibit chainsaw use in August, much of our firewood gathering must now occur in the Spring.
Experienced chainsaw operators work to bring down and cut up any trees killed by those pesky pine beetles.
Younger firewood enthusiasts roll rounds to the camp truck, help stack wood, or pick up all the scattered branches that such a task produces.
Our gravel roads come out of the Winter months looking shabby and full of potholes.
But with the hard work of many hands put to the task, both the parking lot and camp road are fresh and smooth.
Work was also completed on the paintball course by this father-son team.
And this Nana-grandson team charmed one and all while bringing delicious snacks to the other workers.
Not all jobs are out of doors. Painting, scrubbing the camp chairs, washing windows and bunks, organizing the kitchen shelves and many other tasks were completed as well.
Yes, when they are not attending to their mother’s “bunny ears” needs, these helpful campers scrub all of the chairs until they are fresh and lovely!
Cleaning out the camp stove, not a problem for this hard worker.
Grubby doors … no problem!
No, she is not sticking a screwdriver in that plug in! Why do you ask? Instead, we paint the walls and ceiling in Robin’s Roost, which requires taking off the bits and pieces that we do not want to end up pale blue. Even then, we both have a few blue strands of hair and more than our fair share of blue skin by the end of the weekend.
Good food and a moment here and there to rest and play finish off an amazing and productive weekend. Thank you one and all!
When the snow melts as May sunshine awakens the mountains. When wildflowers bloom across the forest floor and within the swaying meadow grasses. As birdsong greats the dawn each day, I know that Spring is in full bloom and that means it is time for the Camas Meadows Ladies Retreat.
Whether working on a craft with a friend
attempting to outbid competitors in the silent auction
or shoo away that pesky photographer before she takes a picture of you laughing with a retreat buddy,
the ladies kept busy during the weekend with times of fun and fellowship in between sessions.
The chapel sessions were brought to us by Robin Chukitus and yes, there was much crying, but it was worth it! Robin braved incredible honesty as she walked us through a difficult time in her life and the amazing things that God did in spite of all the awful stuff. Just because we are swamped, it doesn’t mean that He is!
She took us on a journey to discover God as the Good Father, reaching down to help His children stand strong in Him.
The weekend left us with so much to think on, mull over, and reach out to God about as we seek Him in our own stumbling walk.
But as each of the ladies said goodbye and headed home, I remain confident that the word of the Lord did not fall upon hardened soil but eager, capable hearts. For like the wildflowers that heralded the coming spring. Each of us has the power in Him to bust out of our heartache, bloom, and shine!
300 or so games in the lending library, two additional shelves upon which campers store their own games, and five days spent packed around a cluster of tables bending the mind and focusing the will on strategic victory.
What could this possibly mean???
It’s Spring CamasCon of course!
Forty campers made their way into the mountains, bringing carloads of strategy board games with them.
No need to toil away at work, cook, clean, or even venture more than the few feet between the dinning area, gaming tables, and bathrooms!
CamasCon is all about playing games, so so many games, meeting old friends and new, and gathering together to rejoice in being connected as followers of Christ.
Of course Van Helsing brought board-game-themed lessons for the chapel sessions.
What? You don’t think The Man In Black has anything to do with the Bible?
Oh, you of little faith. Sit through just one chapel and you too will be quoting scripture in the voice of Vizzini! Whether you are looking for quirky Bible lessons,
games with stuffed rats and teeny weeny cardboard cheeses,
epic battles between armies of toothsome monsters,
adventure on the high seas,
tricky track-building travails,
a word puzzle that inexplicably involves adorable plastic pickles,
or just the simple pleasure of antagonizing a good friend,
there’s something at CamasCon for every gamer.
feisty and argumentative,
or an experienced campaigner who is long in the tooth and just might have a gray hair or two.
Thank you to everyone who came and all those who worked behind the scenes to make Spring CamasCon a delightful experience for us all!
Over spring break, Camas Meadows offers our only day camp. A chance for children, grades 3rd through 8th, to get out of the house and test their mettle against the great outdoors.
Every morning at 7:30 AM, the camp van meets families at the Park-N-Ride on Blewett Pass to pick up campers for their day-long adventure.
After breakfast with friends and a Bible lesson courtesy of Bald Eagle, the campers practice knot-tying with Choco and learn about the survival skill of the day.
Shelter building, food preparation, making water safe to drink, finding edible plants, setting snares, navigation, and safely building a campfire are some of the many skills covered during the morning lecture.
Then comes the best part.
Getting outside to practice all of those fabulous new skills!
Navigating through a scavenger hunt around the lodge with a compass … .
Melting snow over a campfire to make clean drinking water …
or even hot fir needle tea …
got it covered!
Setting up snares without accidentally catching the camp dog …
… harder than it looks, but still possible!
The campers learned how to make survival bracelets which contained a massive amount of useful para-cord as well as a flint striker, small compass, and handy wilderness whistle.
Princess Leia Freyja was of course interested in the constant music of tweeting whistles.
The campers were so fun and delightful as they concentrated fiercely on each lesson and then poured out into the forest to practice every skill.
From shouted queries during the Bible lesson to breaking into their personal piggy banks or even pursuing a lightning fast career as a young entrepreneur in order to gain an extra day in the outdoors, the campers tackled every day with grit and enthusiasm.
Thank you, Choco and friends, for the informative lessons and making it possible for these 20 enthusiastic outdoors-men and women to enjoy God’s lovely creation.
A week in the outdoors is always week well spent.
Especially when there is whittling, fire-craft, and shelter building involved!
Jr. High Winter Blast is our only Camas-run winter camp for youth. With about four feet of snow on the ground and gorgeous weather this year, the second weekend in March was the perfect time for winter wonderland fun.
Whether preparing to dive into a fluffy snowbank,
recovering from the brisk mountain cold,
or trying to learn forty-four different names through a crazy circle game,
there were many adventures to be had during this action-packed weekend.
A high-octane street hockey tournament on Saturday morning definitely used up a lot of the campers and counselors energy.
Did the boys win? Did the girls win? Or was the victor none other than Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog?
Princess Leia Freyja certainly gained the title of “most enthusiastic un-sanctioned hockey player” even though the boys in Eagle’s Loft took home the victory.
We enjoyed the thrilling terror of the great Camas Meadows Tubing Hill!
Where a few reasonable individuals went down one tuber at a time.
Trains of tubers are outlawed, due to the realization years ago that this leads to broken collarbones, but campers are welcome to see just how many kids can be smooshed onto a single tube.
This experiment is highly entertaining for both participants and spectators.
And actually appears safer than plain old normal tubing since they never get very far.
Not far enough to build up too much speed, but certainly far enough to get a nice face-full of snow for pictures!
They jump out of the snow chilly, but smiling.
A little snow in the face and hair and maybe up one’s nose didn’t slow them down. But despite the discomfort and adventure, or maybe because of it, the tube hill brought people together and solidified friendships.
But the excitement wasn’t exclusive to outdoor adventures.
We also enjoyed some rousing games of “Share Ball” and of course Grog.
Yeah, there isn’t a whole lot of sharing in “Share Ball!”
We also enjoyed an epic game of amoeba!
All those rowdy and wonderful moments were threaded between times of quiet worship and tapping the depths of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who lends us direction, purpose, identity, and the love and care we so desperately need.
Faramir, our camp speaker, showed his incredible ability to cut straight to the heart of what Jr. High kids are truly concerned about. He spoke to the quiet, desperate needs of young hearts and the One who came to make those young souls truly soar!
Yes, each cabin got a bunch of candy to nibble during our cabin discussion times. But the real prize was seeing several young people choose to belong to Jesus during the weekend.
It was an amazing weekend! One that I was delighted to be a part of as a camp counselor for the first time in about eight years! Thank you for your prayers and support during this special, Camas run camp. After looking through all the photos from this year, I’m getting excited for the next one! You should consider attending staff training and then joining us. This winter camp was truly a delight! Especially for Princess Leia Freyja who got to join our cabin as the official Bear’s mascot!