Scruffy started CamasCon in 2007 with a dream of bringing Christian gamers (and gamers of all kinds) together for a weekend of fun and fellowship. CamasCon has become an amazing chance for us to prayerfully step into a world were Christ is rarely represented. Gamers of every variety LOVE to get together and play! For years, these retreats have grown and thrived as people travel into the mountains to worship, study the Bible together, … and to play hour upon hour upon countless hour of strategy board games.
While CamasCon is very successful at bringing men together, more than any other kind of camp we’ve run, Scruffy noticed that attendees were almost exclusively male. CamasCon camps filled four slots during the year, but while men continued to enjoy fellowship and boardgames together, very few women attended.
We wondered why this was. Girls love games just as much as boys. I (Boo Boo) was told that boys don’t read fiction and yet all three of our sons devour books. I thought back to when I was at a huge women’s event in Seattle and Scruff wanted to bring me flowers. He tiptoed into an auditorium filled with thousands of women, finally found me, handed over the bouquet and zipped out of there as fast as possible.
How could young women help but see CamasCon as a guys event, when the room was full of 47 guys and 3 girls? If joining an auditorium full of women was daunting for Scruffy, how could we expect girls to give a board gaming camp a try when so few of them were involved?
The problem, Scuffy was also a guy. How could a guy plan a game camp for girls?
By handing off the baton! Scruff talked with Bomber, Epona, Kanga, and Meowth. Our wonderful girl staff took over the planning and took off running with the idea!
They even designed several different posters for the camp! Here is one of them.
The girl staff dubbed the new gaming retreat SamusCon! Named after Samus Aran, the leading lady of the 1986 video game Metroid!
Of course, SamusCon needed all kinds of games and so the girl staff planned a weekend full of board games, table top games, video games, and card games. Even Boo Boo played. Sure, I played badly, but thankfully, no one said that you had to actually be good at games to come!
Yes, while playing Phase 10, it took Boo Boo six tries to make it past Phase 1. However, she found that the sixth time truly was the charm!
Yes, we also played Snorta. Now, I have played Snorta on many occasions. One of the more memorable times was when Scruffy was doing so badly that it caused a small child to burst into tears of deepest sympathy. But none of my previous Snorta experiences was so incredibly LOUD as this one!
Why, you ask?
Well, I trust that a picture does indeed say a thousand words.
Many passionate words were exchanged during this supposedly chill game featuring a variety of farm animals and the noises they make … or could make … or the breakfast foods they remind you of.
The competition was fierce and some (unnamed) people didn’t even give their barn animals easy sounds like: oink, cluck cluck, and heehaw. Oh, no! We had to shout out things like: bacon, breakfast, and waffles!
Plus, when two players were dueling, they had to match these various foods and/or animal noises with the remembered animal that inspired them.
Accusations were made! Animal noises were shouted at terrible decibels! But finally, after some hid in the kitchen to save their ears, a victor was finally chosen.
Needing some time to recover, the SamusCon campers sought out less fierce games for a time.
Although, Mario Cart can get competitive as well …
Epona taught a wonderful game of Above and Below.
One camper went against my shouted warnings not to follow the stranger toward the dark cave … only to battle it out with five rock-wielding villagers and win!
We were all amazed that despite shunning Boo Boo’s sound motherly advice, she was victorious.
The girl staff really worked hard to make this a wonderful weekend.
Of course, Princess Leia Freyja also helped out.
After some practice with Scruffy before the camp, I (Boo Boo) was even able to teach a game! This is actually my very own Scooby Doo mystery game and I got to teach three people how to play with me.
I know this doesn’t look all that complex, but teaching something is totally different than simply playing it!
Despite many trials, Scoob and his friends thwarted the jewel thief and meddled until the criminals were unmasked!
Many games were played. Here, you can see a finished map for Cartographers.
We had an amazing discussion time about a Bible passage together on Sunday.
And took many, many goofy photos!
So there you have it, the very first SamusCon Girl’s Game Retreat!
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
It was a delight to run our Senior High Winter camp once again!
We worshiped with both crazy fast songs that had equally-crazy hand motions and those sweet thoughtful melodies that always make me weep.
Doing chapel again with our wonderful senior high campers next to the warm fire on a cold winter day was incredible.
Our camp speaker, Van Helsing, talked about … doing the hand motions for “Pharaoh Pharaoh?”
Ah, there we go. Van Helsing talked about who God is. God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. Plus, how does who They are affect who we are?
Besides speaking, Van Helsing also engaged in many other fun activities.
Including whatever is happening in the photo below. We are not sure … but it definitely looks loud!
We enjoyed delicious food cooked for us by the amazing Kanga!
Yes, playing with your plate is much much more mature than playing with your food … in case you were wondering.
But the campers didn’t just stay inside singing and walking around with plates on their heads!
Oh, no! They ventured into the great outdoors with much gusto!
Hikes through the crunchy snow gave everyone both breathtaking views at Inspiration Point …
… and an opportunity for an epic snowball fight!
Don’t worry, this camper was smiling in the very next photo.
See, I told you he survived!
Many snowballs flew and much laughter filled the mountain air.
The sunshine came out and melted our icy snow just enough so that it packed well and didn’t hurt when hurled through the air at speed.
The fun continued with various attacks.
Both success and failure was fun and hilarious!
Epona, enjoying the camper’s antics.
A camper, enjoying producing those antics!
After invigorating outdoor activities, it was fun to just hang out with friends in the lodge.
Curling up by the fire with a mug of cocoa was a must.
Or, if you are Princess Leia Freyja, just curling up by the fire. Not that she would turn down a mug of cocoa.
The campers had a chance to play some strategy board games once they got tired and cold from outdoor play.
Plus, the chance to make friends with the camp dog.
More outside time was enjoyed with both sledding and then tubing on the terrifying tube hill!
And inside for dog snuggles!
Kanga made these adorable mini pancakes just for Epona! Good things come in small (but mighty) packages.
And then there was hockey!
The senior high campers were especially fond of hockey!
In fact, so was Princess Leia Freyja! She knew exactly how the game was played. Leap in with all four paws and grab the puck. Then run fast to keep it away from everyone else!
Even watching hockey was fun.
Many bumps, bruises, and sore muscles later … victory finally came!
What a weekend! So there you have it: tubing, sledding, snowball fights, hockey, friends, warm crackling fires, snuggly dogs, yummy food, board games, worship, thoughtful chapels, and finally … time to say goodbye.
Fear not! There are more camps coming your way. Stay tuned to hear about Spring Break Survival Camp, CamasCon, Ladies Retreat, Summer Camps, and more!
The day after Christmas marked a beautiful milestone at Camas Meadows Bible Camp.
The first winter camp since March of 2019.
Campers hiked up to Inspiration Point to see the sunrise (only arriving slightly late, ha!) and trekked up the tube hill to zoom down the mountain in a splash of powder. Clearly Scruffy enjoyed his tube run with Boo Boo!
To warm up, we gathered in the camp lodge for board games, time to chat with friends, snuggle the camp dog, and enjoy an epic game of King Elephant.
Princess Leia Freyja was sure that the campers had arrived just to give her pats and treats.
In her defense, there was enough dog snuggling, petting, and treat giving to confuse any canine about the purpose of the camp.
Summer Staff Winter Retreat is unique. It is a chance for counsel staff, support staff, and anyone considering training to be staff next summer to enjoy being campers together.
Exploring God’s beautiful creation is an important part of this four-day camp.
Since the temperatures reached a low of -3 and a high of -1 on the first day and hovered around that zone much of the time, those moments of nature appreciation were spent in quick sprints rather than meandering strolls.
After our mad dashes out of doors, there were plenty of games to play in the lodge near the crackling fire.
Snow angels and a chilly zip down the tube hill.
Then a game of couch …
… and constructing gingerbread houses!
Some gingerbread houses were more detailed … and terrifying than others.
Below, the classic and creepy story of Hansel and Gretel meets both Shrek and the French revolution!
And once our toes thawed … it was back outside again!
But this retreat is also a chance to come together as followers of Jesus and reflect on and talk about His call and what He asks of us in His word.
This year, we focused on the gospels. Watching episodes of The Chosen together, reading scripture, and discussing what it means to follow where Jesus asks us to go.
Like our dawn hike to Inspiration Point, following our Lord is often both harder than expected and even more beautiful. In what ways have you found God’s call more than you expected?
Isaiah 43:1–But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
One of the things I love about photographing camp adventures is capturing the beauty of campers as they relax, have fun, make new friends, and learn about God’s love for them.
On the first day, campers are a bit nervous. Their expressions are careful when I photograph them playing the get-to-know-you game. Their actions are cautious as they take in this strange new environment called Camas Meadows Bible Camp. But given a day with their cabin, campers’ joyous goofiness is revealed. So beautiful!
Perhaps this is part of why we as a people both hate masks and yet can be so quick to create masks for ourselves.
Faramir, our speaker for middle school 2, talked during chapel about the masks we wear.
As controversy rages about masking for healthcare purposes, we’re nonetheless prone to cling to the masks of our own making with grim determination.
Are we the smart kid, the beautiful one, the science nerd, the athlete, the drama star?
That’s fine, but what if we are more than one thing?
What does the beautiful one do if she also loves science, computer games, and Jesus?
What does the athlete do if he also loves baking, back packing, and Bible study?
You would think these amazing and complex individuals would simply trust the Lord who made them and rest in the fact that they are deeply loved by the one who died just for them.
But even we as adults sometimes fall to the same temptation.
What do adults do at work, at their kids’ school, when they walk into a board game convention, or at a church potluck?
All too often, we hide behind the exact same things as our children. When stepping into a group of people, we put on a mask.
When we are at work, that “super responsible employee” mask slips over our faces.
Volunteering at Jog-A-Thon at our kids’ school … well, the “perfect parent mask” takes over.
At a sporting event? Yeah, it’s easy to let the “passionate fan” mask slide into place. Or even the “telling the refs and players how stupid they are” mask or that pesky “I never swear with church friends but football is serious business” mask.
Therein lies the problem. The masks we wear don’t always play nicely together. Sometimes they appear to represent completely different people with a completely different set of values.
Is it any wonder our children do the same?
But while the “Christian kid” mask at youth group, the “chess club champion” mask at school, and the “his dad never counts the bottles” mask that get a child invited to friends’ houses appear to make them blend right in with each group they encounter, God is concerned about deeper things.
He sees past the healthcare masks we argue about, past those invisible masks we snatch up on purpose, and looks upon the person we really are deep down inside.
Man looks at the outward appearance (whether physical or relational or completely made up) but God is different. God looks at the heart.
That is what I love about the freedom found in Christ.
I am constantly delighted as I discover the same kind of beauty while taking pictures for camp.
I start out capturing one thing and slowly, as the week marches on, I end up seeing something completely different come into focus.
Yes, camp is about paintball, horseback rides, and celebrating your birthday with a tea party in the meadow.
Camp involves fake mustaches, water fights, and working together to TP every single cabin in a scramble of less-than-stealthy rowdiness that is sure to reveal who the culprit is.
But as the campers live all these crazy moments together, the masks begin to slip and the real person starts to shine through.
Amazingly, this happens when indoors with facemasks in place as well as out of doors when the face masks are shoved into pockets or hung nonchalantly over one ear.
Because it is that pile of invisible masks that are causing the most trouble. These masks are the ones keeping us from being honest with ourselves, others, and our Lord.
Faramir pointed out how difficult it is to experience our new life in Christ when all we are offering God is our “church kid” mask instead of our very selves.
How can we be light and salt in a world full of hurt when we pull on a new mask for every situation? How can we be different, be like Jesus, if we are simply blending in?
At least two campers chose to give their lives to Christ this week and many more made renewed commitments to follow Jesus in honesty and truth.
Because what we as adults can find so difficult to recognize, these children understand.
It is not the mask that is priceless, beloved, and precious in the sight of God.
It is the person.
The actual person is the one who can live and love and choose in whose steps they will follow.
God is calling to the person, not their many masks.
Clearly, the campers relished in this new knowledge as we had many mask and hat themed skits illustrating Faramir’s talks.
From epic battles between beard and hat wearing fighters …
… to the adventures of “Good Child” and “Churchy Person” as she tried to navigate life clinging to all of her masks.
The skits were both hilarious and thought-provoking.
And also, strange. We dare not forget strange. Sometimes the mask was a shark head monster that inexplicably appeared in an insane Scooby Do adventure.
Clearly, the shark head mask was far more dangerous than we even imagined!
But whatever props they used, the campers illustrated this truth again and again.
Jesus is calling to the real you.
He is longing to rescue the actual person you are, not everything you pretend to be.
Yeah, we have reasons for the masks that we wear.
Being honest with ourselves is hard.
It’s harder still to be honest with the many different people who share our world.
If we are honest, we will never quite fit in.
Some will judge us. Some will shame us. Some will discount us as unimportant and not worth their time.
But these people, they are not our judge.
We have one judge whose decision counts. One judge and He is the one who made the heavens, the earth, and all that is contained within them … including you, including me.
That judge, well, He is the one who made Himself poor so that we could be rich.
He is the one who suffered so that we could rejoice.
He is the one who was raised so that each of us can choose to be raised with Him.
And yes, He is the one who died so that though we die, in Him, we can truly live.
And how can this glorious transformation occur without being truly honest with our Lord, trusting in His love for us just as we are, and believing in His power to grow us into everything that we were made to become?
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We saw God work with incredible power this week. The power of an improbable coincidence followed by another improbable coincidence that was followed by five more, the power of the Spirit’s gentle nudge, the power of the cup of water given in Jesus name, the power of the still small voice.
When thirty-seven teenagers masked up and hauled their luggage into the lodge for Sr. High Teen Camp, they were starved for connection, community, and just camp itself. Gracious, after a year stuck at home, so were we. Though we felt inadequate, God’s call was clear and strong.
We could not have run camp if even one of our counselors had decided not to come. And guess what? Three of them were last minute additions. The Lord knew of our needs long before we realized them ourselves, even putting camp on the hearts of experienced former staff as early as February. It was so amazing to watch Him work to bring just the right counselors for each cabin’s hurts and heartache. He lined up staff who had just come through difficult trials, the same kinds of trials that their campers were currently facing. We were amazed as we watched Him work. The more we needed Him, the more His power was revealed.
And the miracles were not contained to counsel staff. We were short an assistant cook and a friend of Sweet Tea’s just happened to be available for the first half of camp. Then, Scruff chatted with one of our former staff members as he dropped his sisters off for camp. He became available to help in the kitchen right as Sweet Tea’s friend was leaving. Another former kitchen worker who hadn’t been to camp in years texted Scruffy out of the blue, asking if we needed help. Yes, yes we did!
Amidst the crazy fun of camp, we saw that the still small voice of God had begun His work long before campers arrived. Maybe that isn’t a fair description at all. Amidst, presumes that the crazy fun is separate from the work of God. In my experience, God uses the very rowdiness of camp to do great things for His kingdom. The thrill of night games provides community which rolls over into cabin time, allowing new friends to share their hearts in a way they never would have before running through the woods screaming and laughing together.
And it was rowdy and fun and full of life, finally! After fifteen months of ministering to one family at a time with individual retreats, camp was full of riotous sound and the incredible intensity that thirty-seven teenagers provides. It was so very lovely.
I go to bed before anyone else at camp due to getting up early to write. As I lay beside my open window, roars and screams filled the forest outside. Nope, not fifty bears having a brawl. Campers, playing night games in the woods, filling the darkness with laughter and ridiculousness for the first time since summer 2019. I fell asleep smiling. The wildness of camp at work in the lives of kids can sound insane, but it is the very best kind of crazy! We have missed that sound so much.
This wildness is what can be confusing to people at times. It doesn’t always look like ministry and yet, we are honored to observe and participate in ministry of a purity and depth that I’ve rarely found elsewhere. Just like the Atomic God Bomb coming in the form of the still small voice. Confusing, but indescribably lovely all the same.
How does wearing a bison hat and kitty ears in the cabin skit draw kids to God?
What about a rousing game of GaGa Ball with your cabin?
Making or even missing a basket on the sport’s court with new friends?
A quick snuggle with Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog?
Launching water at an unsuspecting friend?
Revisiting a grade school game?
Fun on the paintball course?
Swimming. Not in a pool, lake, or even a sparkly river, but in a pond.
Becoming a weird battle-hermit-crab-thing through the use of a laundry basket?
Donning glowing necklaces, bracelets, halos, and even nose rings for the amazing (and very neon) Worship SmackDown! Yes, even a glowstick artfully displayed on your nose can be a vital puzzle piece in someone’s walk with God.
What is it about all of these seemingly disconnected and crazy-looking activities that leads to this moment? A young woman choosing to make a declaration about her relationship with God by asking to be baptized in our humble pond. This moment certainly looks like victory, spiritual growth, and ministry.
What you might not know is that this moment of victory, coming up out of the murky water of the pond with a joyful smile, surrounded by spiritual mentors. This moment would never have happened without all those other seemingly less spiritual times together.
Why did this young woman want to be baptized here? She could have taken a class at her local church, walked down the smooth steps of a baptismal, and been submerged in pristine and well-chlorinated waters surrounded by the church body.
It is because the body of Christ is not contained by a church building. Her church, the church, is here too!
And this part of the body of Christ, this is the part who had sword fights with her. This small segment of the church is the one who did crafts with her on the porch, took her out to Inspiration Point at midnight to worship under the stars, dunked her in the dunk tank, screamed with her while she zoomed down the slip-n-slide, applauded the crazy skit she did with her cabin, listened when she told her story, and held her as she wept.
The part of the Body at camp is simple, humble, obscure. But God works in mysterious ways and yes, sometimes those ways involve a foam sword or a glowing nose ring. It is the very humbleness of the ministry that gives it Atomic God Bomb power.
We expect to see God in the mighty wind, the destructive earthquake, the raging fire. We expect our Messiah to topple kingdoms and ride to His throne on a warhorse. But sometimes God comes in the still small voice. And our Messiah, well, He rode to His glory on a donkey and was lifted up to victory on a brutal Roman cross. So when our speaker this week planned sessions around God’s Atomic Power, it is no wonder that we saw that power at work like a still small voice among us. We serve a Lord who said that His disciples would receive honor for the simple obedience of giving a cup of water in His name. He is a God who does mighty works with simple people in humble circumstances.
God worked with quiet power. A camper asked to talk with the speaker about a relationship difficulty. Then the very person they’d been struggling with stopped and talked with Van Helsing. That camper walked toward the firepit in front of Van Helsing and he felt the spirit prompt him to ask if he wanted to talk. They had a two-hour conversation that was made possible by that still small voice working with power in the humble venue we call camp.
Our camp nurse had never shared about her battle with anxiety with the staff before. Yet, at staff training she told her story. Then along came senior high camp and so many of our precious campers were battling anxiety. The counselors were able to tell their campers that our very own nurse also had this struggle and still manages to do important work at camp, not the calmest environment out there. We had camp counselors who thought about not coming up to serve because of their own anxiety. God called them anyway, with great insistence, and you know which campers were in their cabin? Exactly! The still small voice of God, working with earth shattering power in the lives of His people.
Here, Scruffy is scowling his displeasure about all of the cracker packets that the ravens have strewn about the camp. He is not fond of ravens. Do you know what else his is not fond of? Sharing his story.
Which seems crazy to those of us who have heard his story. God brought Scruff out of an incredibly dark place. He was actively antagonistic toward God, even going so far as to write a paper with the goal of disproving God’s existence. The journey that led that angry young man into the arms of Jesus is so amazing, but Scuff is loath to share it as he feels people need to hear from others besides him. If pestered, he shares his testimony from time to time. What he has never shared at camp, is the story of how his brother committed suicide four years ago.
Despite his reluctance, God brought this topic up again and again. Simultaneously, He set a weight on Scruffy’s heart that sharing this never-discussed story was important. It started on Memorial Day weekend when a nine-year-old girl said that 2020 was the worst year ever. Scruff smiled and said that he’d had several worse years. He expected to walk away from the conversation at that or perhaps hear an exhaustive list of the awfulness of 2020 from the eyes of this sweet little one.
Instead, that little girl gazed up at him and asked which years were worse. He told her that 2017 was one of his worst years. Undeterred, she asked why. In words appropriate for one so young, he tried to explain the pain of losing a sibling to life-long depression.
Then senior high teen camp came and camper after camper talked about depression and suicide. Scruffy held onto his story, not sure if he should share or when it would even work to do so.
The weight of Scruffy’s story remained. He stopped me on the stairs as we were rushing off to camp. “I think maybe I’m supposed to share.” I told him that from where I stood, it was pretty clear God was calling him to do just that. He met my gaze and said he didn’t know when he could possibly share. Our speaker had all the sessions planned and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant dinner conversation or a cheerful bedtime story.
Then it was campfire on Friday night. We sang worship songs under the stars, snuggled up in blankets around the fire, and silence filled the meadow. No one shared. Finally, Scruffy stood.
Scruff told them about his brother. About missing a phone call from him in the middle of a busy camp summer and then finding out later that he was gone. He told them what it felt like to lose a loved one. The guild, grief, and despair. Scruffy told our campers that suicide does not make anything better for those left behind. He was given the strength to share what he had never shared at camp before by the still small voice of God. Nothing else is as powerful!
Campers began to stand up, toss their sticks into the fire, and share from their hearts. Campers shared who weren’t going to share … but because of Scruffy, they knew that they could. So so many of them were struggling. So many needed to know that yes, dark moments can overwhelm, but life is not made better for those left behind.
So yeah, camp doesn’t appear exactly like what people think ministry should look like. There are more water fights and less hymnals. There is more mud than expected and sometimes bugs in your hair. There is screaming as Partake dons her wedding dress, Choco puts on his tux, and while wearing terrifying make-up they swoop down the road riding on one-wheels.
The worship includes glowing nose rings and things get blasted with an air cannon during chapel time. But God has a habit of using the humble things in this life to do mighty works.
Those campers who swam in the pond with their cabin, ran from Partake zooming by in her wedding dress, laughing during skit night, and cried during worship. Those campers were being ministered to all week. They were loved in little and big ways all week long. Until their hearts were soft enough to hear the still small voice of God. That same gentle whisper that called the staff to come play paintball, gaga ball, and mini golf. The same whisper that commanded Scruffy to speak of his pain. That is what a week of craziness with new friends and caring counselors does. It helps hurting hearts to grow strong enough to dare to listen.
1 Kings 19:11-13b
“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”
After fourteen long months of being closed to groups, and having ministry change from eighty-person crowds to a quieter ministry of supporting individual families and personal retreats, we are finally gearing up for summer camp!
It’s been a long, confusing winter and now we are eager to welcome campers back to Camas Meadows.
However, this summer will not be the easiest or the smoothest. This will be a summer full of personal sacrifice—not a walk in the park. Then again, we are not located in a park. Camp is in the wild. We are used to things that are not easy. This summer is going to be hard. However, Princess Leia Freyja figures that we can do whatever is required, as long as we bring her some campers to love.
What is required of us in order to run camp in these crazy times? Camp will be running at half capacity. There will be masking and social distancing of course, but the more difficult task is making sure that folks don’t come to camp sick. The state requirements are that campers and staff must arrive with either proof of a negative Covid19 test within the last three days or proof of vaccination.
Well, as you can see, Princess Leia Freyja is clearly saying that it will be worth it. You know what? We agree. If we are being given a chance to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with children and welcome them into the wildness and beauty of camp, we will do it.
But despite the difficulties that these guidelines bring, we have been called to this ministry and that takes precedence. Plus, we have a lonely camp dog on the lookout for some kids and we would hate to disappoint her.
If you’re interested in the nitty gritty details, here is a link to the rules for operation that Washington camps must follow. (Guidance for overnight camping begins on page six.) We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we dive into this crazy summer. Thank you so, so much for your support over this quiet year and your prayers as we prepare for the beautiful rowdiness of children coming up to camp!
Philippians 1:3-6–“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
It’s official! On June 19th, in a small ceremony on the meadow, Choco and Partake were married under a warm summer sun.
Choco and Partake met through camp and it was fitting that they spoke their marriage vows amidst the tall, waving grasses of the meadow just below the camp lodge. Since the Covid-19 pandemic meant a small ceremony, Choco built a scattering of wooden benches using wood rounds from our local forest and set them up in the meadow facing the aspen grove at the far end. Partake designed a log trellis which Choco built for her out of cut aspen trees. With the help of their officiant (Van Helsing) it was up and ready for their big day. Their guests, only a few close friends and family, walked the narrow path from the lodge to the meadow to enjoy the ceremony. Van Helsing, our regular Sr. High Teen Camp speaker, preformed the ceremony and Choco and Partake sealed their covenant with a kiss under a flawless expanse of blue. Guests grabbed water and soda from an antique bathtub filled with ice and wished the happy couple many years together. Of course, the camp dog ensured that everyone was finished grabbing drinks when she climbed into the antique bathtub to cool off and get a quick drink herself. It was a true Camas wedding: an excited couple who could trace their relationship back through many days spent serving at camp together, the gentle beauty of our Lord’s creation surrounding them, laughter, tears, and a few unexpected surprises. We at Camas Meadows Bible Camp would like you to join us in wishing Choco and Partake well on their journey forward together. Congratulations, ParTaco!
For the first time since Scruffy’s worked at Camas, we offered a Camas-Run, Sr. High Snow Camp! Yes, here they are, Sr. High campers … who are sometimes quite tall, as demonstrated by this photo. One of these rowdy boys is actually the camp speaker, though. Can you pick him out?
Yep, this is our speaker. The one and only Van Helsing, who for some very important Biblical reason, was impersonating a T-Rex during his chapel session. Thankfully, I am quick to photograph these amazing moments and so we can revisit this Bible lesson again and again.
As you can imagine, there is plenty of silliness at Sr. High Winter Camp. Does this camper actually have a pet spoon?!?
And of course much Ukulele playing!
The occasional epic tube hill run
Yep, you can tell how much fun they are having by how much snow they track into the lodge!
But a few snowballs brought inside are not sufficient. At Sr. High Winter Camp we get outside every chance we can get!
And that means giant snowballs
And snowball fights!
There’s nothing like blue sky, fresh snow, and an enthusiastic snowball fight opponent.
Like your father … or the camp intern.
This is Inspiration Point. A great place for both quietly viewing the mountains and an epic battle.
Teen campers are great. They can go from thoughtful contemplation to crazed attack and back again in an instant.
That is the beautiful thing about camp. All the rowdiness and fun seems to actually make the quiet times of camp all the more lovely. I think that the very act of having a snowball fight, insane hockey match-up, and super-tense game of grog with a group of people makes you more likely to be honest and open to God’s word with them, when it is time to worship and study.
There is nothing quite like worshiping beside the person who just chased you up the tube hill, in the dark, through three feet of snow, as you both strove mightily to win the game of Mission Impossible.
Camp is my favorite place in the world to worship. Add an acoustic guitar and it feels like Heaven. Surely, there will be acoustic guitar, warm wood tones, a crackling fire, gorgeous views, and good friends in heaven?
This weekend, Van Helsing spoke on Christmas. Which unfortunately meant that he brought a terrifying dancing Santa!
This camper is clearly concerned about the presence of dancing Santa at camp! Don’t worry, he requires electricity. We can always unplug him, or perhaps the generator will break at just the opportune moment.
Thankfully, the creepyness of dancing Santa was offset by this small but significant Christmas tree. As we stepped into the new year, with everyone around us making resolutions all willy nilly, Van Helsing challenged us to pray and ask God what He wanted us to concentrate on this year. The Year of Awesome.
Whether it was anger, self-control, balance, friendship, forgiveness, or “Claws Out!” at the end of the weekend, we wrote our word on a paper, stood up among Christian friends, and placed it on the Christmas tree.
Finding Salvation in Jesus Christ is not the only step on our journey of faith. Living a life for God is a long and at times weary journey. We need to have moments of connection with other believers. Each of us lacks the courage and resilience to go forward at times. Winter teen camp provides a moment along the journey for rest, fun, and encouragement among other young believers. Such moments are vital to being a teen of faith. It is such an honor to be a part of providing such moments for these amazing and wonderful teen campers!
Galatians 6:2–“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
The day after Christmas might be Boxing Day in Canada or a chance to eat leftover turkey and enjoy new toys before they break for others, but here at Camas Meadows December 26th is always first day of Summer Staff Winter Retreat!
How could a camp that involves hockey, snow tubing, snowball fights, and beautiful hikes in a winter wonderland possibly have anything to do with summer?
Well, as you can imagine, in order to run our summer camp program we require many amazing volunteer staff. Anyone interested in becoming staff, either support staff who work behind the scenes or C.I.T.s who begin training to become counsel staff, can attend the Summer Staff Winter Retreat as a camper. Campers must be turning 15 in 2020 to be considered.
This is a chance for kids who are considering a summer of service to get to know the permanent staff and connect with older counselors and support staff. To learn some of the fun and beautiful camp songs. To grow in their walk with the Lord as they worship together and hear teaching from God’s word. And to take just a bit of time in the mountains to play and rest and be renewed.
For experienced staff, this is a vital chance for us to minister to them instead of them ministering to their campers.
We demand a lot from our summer staff. They must be responsible, constantly alert, think of the needs of their campers before their own, and occasionally have slices of cheese dipped in mayo or gummy worms dipped in chocolate flung at them during Watchamabob! They rarely have time to just talk and share with other staff since they are focusing on the needs of their campers 24/7.
But during the Summer Staff Winter Retreat, the older counselors and support staff who didn’t have the time to hang out in the summer get to do just that. They get to be the campers. They get to have a speaker who challenges them in their walk with the Lord during chapel sessions. They get to talk and laugh and pray and weep and laugh some more together, as a team. Sometimes they even get to take a little nap after a snowball fight or tube hill run.
Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog, is always ready for a nap or a snuggle with one of the campers.
Of course, camp is not all about rest and relaxation!
There are crazy games
Fun times outside
The occasional snowball fight
Plus, many hours playing strategy board games around the table together.
As you can see, the schedule is full. And this week, camp was full of hilarious people who enjoyed drawing on the official schedule of events. Wait a minute … I recognize that handwriting!
No, Orchid didn’t do it. She was just playing a board game.
From snowy faces
To “I really hate twinkie weenier sandwiches” faces.
To “I can’t believe I ate that twinkie weenier sandwich for my camper” faces.
There were many amazing moments to photograph. Yes, these are Twinkie Weenier Sandwiches, just like in the movie UHF. Twinkie, hot dog, and cheeze wiz … yum!
Our speaker, Momo, taught on brokenness. Looking at the faces of these wonderful teens, I hate even the idea of any of them being hurt. But though camp is a place of fun and joy, it is also a place to be honest about the hard things in life.
Hurt people hurt people and that is so discouraging when you see the terrible cycle of brokenness continue around these beautiful kids that we get to work with at camp. But Momo also spoke about how there can be victory from the cycle of hurt and brokenness in Jesus Christ. I myself have seen this legacy of pain stopped in its tracks as Scruffy left a family tradition of heartbreak and addiction to follow Jesus.
It is such a blessing to watch these amazing young people as they come together to worship, share from their hearts, learn, consider a summer of service, and just have a whole lot of fun together. Camp can be such an amazing time to grow and heal and reach out to others with God’s grace. It is an honor to be a part of God’s ministry here.
2 Corinthians 5:17–“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come.”
We were blessed with another large group of kids for Middle School Camp 2. Fifty-five crazy, beautiful, and hilarious 6th to 8th graders. For our last Camas Camp of the summer, we set out to provide the pure delight of a week chock-full of fun in the forest combined with incredible teaching from God’s word.
Sadly, these girls were completely sorrowful and somber and totally bored on the 100 foot camp slip-n-slide.
Ha ha! No, they were so fun and enthusiastic, I have way too many pictures of them. Jr. Highers are just the best!
Our camp speaker for Middle School 2 was Faramir. And for this rowdy horde, he spoke on the life of David.
“God often chooses the unpopular, the weak, the stinky, the poor, the outsiders, the anxious, the fearful” –Faramir
How many of us felt like this in Jr. High? Well, as they jumped into David’s story, the campers got to see that God is very much interested in what is underneath our awkward clothes, abysmal social skills, and lack of hair-brushing prowess. God looks at the heart!
Why does God choose simple, unimpressive people? Why did God anoint the youngest brother, that scrawny shepherd boy, the one so forgettable that his own father left him off his list of sons when chatting with the powerful and respected prophet Samuel?
To show His glory!
No, pause a moment and really let that sink in. Our lack, shows God’s power. Our weakness, reveals God’s strength. Our averageness or even below-averageness, showcases God’s greatness.
Now that is exactly what we got to see this week.
God, doing amazing things, with ordinary people
One guy counselor noticed his campers jumping off the dock at Lake Chelan. He came and joined them, urging everyone to jump in superhero poses. They perfected The Ironman, Hulk Smash, and Batman in jump after jump together.
One of the boys had a hard time getting into the activities as a first-time camper. He resisted the camp counselor’s enthusiastic efforts to get him involved and having fun. It was one of his fellow campers who marched him around from activity to activity and finally convinced him to give camp a try. When we saw his nervous face break out in smiles, it was a sight glorious to see!
From large accomplishments, like finishing the Ga Ga Ball Court after years of dreaming, to small moments such as taking the time to play a boardgame with a child who wasn’t excited about getting wet, acts of love both big and small were a backdrop to the chapel sessions about the life of a simple shepherd boy turned king.
From cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night to limping around camp to locate an absent camper, the counselors consistently showered the campers with God’s love. Knowing that someone will call the nurse and take care of your mess, realizing that instead of being mad your counselor is actually a listening ear and someone who understands, as these young leaders gave of themselves in a continuous stream of little moments during the week they were used greatly by our powerful God.
Like when Orchid took her campers on a hike to The Frog Pond and in a joyful gust of spontaneity, they all jumped into that murky water for a swim!
Or when none of Hiccup and Randalf’s campers were tired and so they read out loud to them, from Leviticus, about how exactly one used to clean up their house after a mold infestation! Hint: in involves painting the walls with a live bird instead of a brush!
Making a bracelet for someone else, listening, sweeping the dirt paths between the cabins and the tube hill for cabin inspections (yes, you read that right. They actually swept dirt!), going on a night hike, Shine jumping around the corner to say, “You’re pretty!” or Zooboomafoo jumping (literally jumping) in to lead motions and increasing the energy in the room by about 400%. It truly is little things, done well, with honesty and consistency that make a difference with kids.
Campers bravely stood during the campfire on the last night and said things like, “I was welcomed with open arms.” Or even, “My favorite moment of this week was learning to grow closer to God.” It is amazing to watch God at work with a group of simple, everyday people. The last image from camfire was this, one camper proudly standing alone, raising his arms and singing the last song after everyone else was sitting down.
The life of David gives us hope in so many different ways. It is often in Jr. High that we begin to feel the terrible weight of our own mistakes, and so often at this point, we question God’s love.
But God is careful to record even His follower’s worst errors in His word, so that we are not left floundering and without hope when we fail.
After facing down giants, David stayed home from the war and sneaked a peek at a beautiful woman bathing in the seclusion of her own roof. His staff pointedly mentioned that she was the wife of one of his famous Mighty Men, and yet he ordered her brought to him, got her pregnant, and arranged for her husband to be abandoned on the battle field and killed. David, the man after God’s own heart, pretty much waged a war upon his own honor.
What now? David had betrayed God in a truly epic fashion. According to 2 Samuel 12, he despised the word of the Lord. Instead of a quick smiting, God sent the prophet Nathan with a story about a rich man and a beloved lamb. When David rages at the horrors brought upon this fluffy innocent (that would be Bathsheba) Nathan utters those chilling words:
“You are that man!”
And it is this moment that should give each of us hope, whether we are struggling through Jr. High or 7th grade seems like a lifetime ago. It is this moment that teaches something incredible about the love of God. David, broken with sorrow, repents. And God forgives! Even crimes like these, He shows mercy when He sees what is in David’s heart.
God anointed a shepherd boy as king because of what was inside, not what others could see. Then He boldly forgave a sinner of epic proportions, because of the broken heart that David offered up to Him. David’s life is full of struggle and mistakes, but in the end, he always came rushing back to God.
Whether we are full of dramatic flair, awkward bumbling, blemished skin, unexpected beauty, or agonizing difficulties with math, God is not looking at our surface. He sees the heart. Faramir made sure that these lively campers know this great truth about the Lord.
Life isn’t always easy.
Sometimes our own mistakes add to the mess. Sometimes the mistakes of others splash over into our lives. Sometimes there is no greater good in sight and a thunderstorm hits the Ga Ga Ball court for no apparent reason.
But from the life of David we can be sure of several things. God values what is inside.
He works with incredible power in the humble, small, fragile people who follow Him.
And though we stray, even when we make incredible mistakes …
He has the strength, grace, and mercy needed to get us back where we need to be.
Though the journey is difficult, and sometimes embarrassing, we are always at our best when we are safely in His arms.
He is the one who knows us best and looks upon the heart!
1 Samuel 16:7–“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”