Atomic God Bomb: The Still Small Voice!

Senior High Teen Camp 2021

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!

Here MiniVan and his camper do the motions for “I’ll Fly Away” during outdoor worship

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.”

Boo Boo

P.S. Besides the girl who was baptized (from whom I got permission) I do not put a camper’s story by their picture to preserve anonymity.

Hello Summer Camp!

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.”

ParTaco!

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!

Boo Boo

Sr. High Winter Camp 2020

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?

Van Helsing’s amazing T-Rex impersonation

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.”

Boo Boo

Summer Staff Winter Retreat

Soggy campers fresh from the tube hill

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?

Good question!

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.

Yep, these rowdy campers are doing to motions to a song, not attacking each other.

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.

With Shine!

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.”

Boo Boo

The Weak, The Stinky, The Outsider … The Heart!

Middle School Camp 2

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

A camper finds an awesome bug in the meadow!

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? 

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.

A camper enjoying leather-working with Bald Eagle.

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.

A fork, floating through space, with accompanying sound effects!

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.

Behold, the giants!

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.'”

Boo Boo

Transformed

Jr. B Camp 2019

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.”

1 Corinthians 12:27

Boo Boo

Surrender

Middle School Camp 1

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.”

Unchecked Copy Box

Boo Boo

*In order to protect their anonymity, I do not place photos of campers above their personal stories. Although, I may do so with staff upon occasion.

Dinosaur Stomp

Jr. A Camp 2019

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!

Boo Boo

*To protect their anonymity, I do not place photos of campers above their personal stories. Although, sometimes I will with Camp Staff.

Staff Training 2019

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 … .

Boo Boo