The Art of Giving Courage


It seems insignificant, too simple, a side dish to the main thing of what we are trying to do at camp. But for some kids, encouragement is that fresh drink of hope that enables them to carry on.

I know someone who loved going to the dentist as a child. The receptionist always smiled, the hygienist told him what a good job he was doing at holding still and brushing and opening his mouth up wide. For several years he thought that he had a unique talent. That he alone could sit and spit and say “aaaahhhh” so that those cheerful dental professionals were wowed by his abilities. It was only later, in his adulthood, that he realized they did this with all the kids who obeyed. That they were simply being encouraging. But for a boy who had grown up without it, encouragement was a rare and dazzling phenomenon.

There was a girl who arrived at camp and didn’t smile. Most kids are excited, they are hyper and nervous and running around all crazy meeting their cabin mates and counselors and hugging their parents goodbye. Her face showed none of this, only stone. The next day our camp speaker sought her out, wanting to ask how her first day at camp had gone. He couldn’t find her.

Had we somehow lost a camper in the woods? Was she hiding in the canteen, buried amongst the snickers bars refusing to come out? Had she been abducted by Big Foot and a passel of squirrels?

Nope, she was smiling and he didn’t recognize her.

I see her once in awhile around town and she always smiles at me. The last time, she ran over to our car dragging a friend. She introduced me, told me she was coming to camp, and dug through her buddy’s backpack to yank out a camper registration. As we drove away they were double checking the camp dates to make sure that they had signed up for the same week.

As Christians, we should be in the business of giving courage. Christ is our hope and our strength when we have none. God has reduced Himself to one of us and died among us so that we might live. We have courage to give. A smile, a hug, a crazy skit, a cabin full of bran new friends. Encouragement. This is one of the things we strive to do at Camas Meadows. Pray for us this summer that in Christ we will succeed.

I Thessalonians 5:11a–“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”


Boo Boo

Ladies Retreat, Pain, and Doggies

For the first time in years, I had the opportunity to participate in the Camas Meadows Annual Ladies Retreat. During one of the sessions I was able to attend (I have 3 boys at home and so my attendance tends to be sporadic at best) the speaker was reading from I Samuel and the story of Hannah. We remember Hannah for her sacrifice and devotion and faith. But I was struck by the words used to describe her tale.


Would not Eat

Bitterness of Soul

Wept Much and Prayed

Look upon your servant’s Misery

Remember Me

Deeply Troubled

Pouring out my Soul

My Great Anguish and Grief

So many times all we remember is the triumphal climax of this story. Hannah has a baby boy and she gives him to God. But Hannah experienced her Dark Night of the Soul as well. Many many dark nights in fact.

We had to say goodbye to our dear doggy Shamu this week. He has been beloved by our family and campers alike, for almost 12 years. And when you are in that moment of grief, weeping in the darkness, lost in the sadness and pain. It is hard to look at all the greats in the Bible and remember that they didn’t know how their stories would end.

They walked through darkness as well, but they trusted that God walked with them. Because that is what He has vowed to us. Not that our path will only contain butterflies and flowers, but that He is there, among us, in our ecstasy and in our grief. That He is God, whatever this world contains. That He is Lord, whatever pits and heights our tale must traverse. That He is love and the we are His. These are the things to which we can cling. These, these are truth.

 John 16:33–“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”



Boo Boo

Spend Yourselves

The Deadline for Summer Staff applications came this week.

Scruff and I will be reading applications and praying and interviewing kids and praying that more people will suddenly decide to send in an application at the last minute. Getting enough counselors can be difficult. But the Lord always provides. And I was thinking about what exactly a summer serving at camp offers you. How can I lure you to come and serve with us, especially when other places can afford to actually pay you? How can I correctly portray the impact that a week of fun and sun and Bible sessions and night games has on the children you give your summer to?

I can’t.

What can we offer you here at Camas Meadows? After a week of serving kids with us you will be completely and totally spent.

At camp you will thoroughly spend yourselves. Spend yourself until you think that there isn’t a single drop of energy left in your body to give, and when you reach that point, then you will give more. You will not get enough sleep. You will not have the alone time that you think you need to recharge. You will have to get up way too early to have that precious moment in the Word with your Lord. You will think about skipping that time, but you will need it. Because God is all that will keep you going. At first the sheer energy and joy and utter rowdiness will push you along in a joy-filled wave of activity. But then you will run out. Then you will see what is left when your energy and drive and sleep has all evaporated. Who are you, beneath everything else? You will not be enough. And that is alright, because He walks among us, hoping for these moments when we are truly spent.

It is that moment when you do the motions to the crazy songs and then wrap your arms around your campers shoulders for the slow songs and then hide behind a bush and weep for 5 minutes crying out to God because they will be going home in 2 days and you know what kind of home that is. Then when even your tears are spent, you pray and you wipe your face and you run down to the meadow to play capture the flag and crawl through nettles and step on a bees nest and hike to inspiration point and finally TP the boys cabin because you promised the girls on the first day that you would. And then you lay in your sleeping bag all stinging with nettle scratches wondering how you will ever wake up in time to read your Bible in the morning, much less make it to Staff Meeting. But you do, because there is no way you will survive unless you are clutching the hand of Jesus for every stumbling step.

Being spent is Scruffy on Sunday in the summer. Weeping through the worship time and dropping off to sleep during the sermon. Don’t worry, I jab him awake with my thumb. But anyone who has spent a summer at camp understands being spent.

This is what we have to offer you.

At Camas Meadows Bible Camp you will spend yourselves.

But even though you may feel like a chocolate chip cookie that has been jumped upon by rabid orangutans and then tossed on the freeway and run over by three dump trucks and a trailer hauling elephants, this is ok with God.

He can do so much after we have crumbled.

In that moment that we give up, that we fall in a heap at His feet and tell Him we cannot go on. That is when the real work begins. Not our work, but His. You will see God’s glory, if you stick around after you have been entirely spent.

And so I implore you, come serve at Camas Meadows, or on a short term mission, or with Campus Crusade or Compassion or World Vision or…. Spend yourself on behalf of others and watch God do what He does best. He takes our emptiness and brings about His glory. Life for us and everyone around us.

This is what He does, even with those who are spent. Especially with those who are spent.


Boo Boo