Jr. B Camp 2014

My oldest son is an incredibly active and inventive boy, but he is also quite straight-laced. When he was little he would plug his ears during singing time at church, because the music was “too wild”. If he is playing an imaginary game with his brothers and everyone is a tiger except one of them who wants to be a cheetah with a prehensile tail, he informs them that only new world monkeys have prehensile tails and that brother better pick a more realistic animal for the game. I love these things about him, but I also love to watch those moments when he lets go and runs rampant with joy.

Camp is one of those times. This week my boy was in the Sasquatch cabin with a bunch of his buddies and a little guy from Korea who spoke about 10 words of English. His counselor got an English to Korean translator on his phone and the camp speaker “just happened” to have a Korean Bible laying around at his house and off they went on a week of adventure. After the very first night game, three of them came to the nurse with bloody knees. They had all run down the same trail together, fallen, and limped to the nurse to show off their war wounds and get patched up. From the sidelines, I watched my little guy laughing and running with his friends. Not brushing his hair until it stuck straight up, doing crazy skits, and wonder of wonders, doing all the motions to “Pharaoh Pharaoh” during singing time. This boy won’t even look up from his book to glance at the overhead during church, but at camp he is a rowdy and confident participant in all things crazy. He even shared at the campfire. My guy, who gritted his teeth and endured standing up to get his reading award at school this year. He chose, on his own, on purpose, to stand up and say something in front of the camp.

I love to see him as a camper.

Camp is a special place. You are safe to learn, to love, to grow, to be goofy, and to TP the other cabins just as long as you never ever use duct tape. I love watching kids blossom at camp, especially my own.

Thank you Maximus, Pippin, and Spitfire for giving my guy a wonderful week. A week where he was away from my hovering, he was a Sasquatch, and he was free to be goofier then he ever had been before. Thank you for showing him that other people besides his parents believe in God too and for walking with him on this journey of growing up.


Boo Boo

Glow Stick People

The week of Senior High camp is something that I’m not sure I can explain. How do you express what six days of honesty feels like? Six days of jagged emotion. Six days of weeping and laughing and tearing through scripture and falling on your face before God telling him that you are completely done.

Van Helsing spoke on brokenness.

The first night was about broken bones. The hurts and pains and inevitable tragedies of life that make you want to give up. But scripture is very clear. Trouble and sorrow will come, but God has called us to endure and reach to God. The second night was about broken homes. So many of these kids do not have 2 parents to hold onto. Too many of them have been shattered by the very ones who should be fighting the hardest to save them. Then came broken hearts. We are designed by God to love and trust and thrive. But too few of us are willing to actually set aside our own interests and dare to love. We are a people with broken hearts. And what about broken dreams? There is so much that you hope and dream to achieve and become. What happens to our faith and trust in God if our dreams turn to ashes about our feet? How do we patch our joy back together when life doesn’t work out?

And Friday night…ah yes.

The final lesson was about our Broken Savior.

He was perfect, beloved, unblemished. And then He came, down into our world of dust and blood and hate. He chose the fragrance of smoke and wood curls and the oiled handles of simple tools. He chose the taste of rough country meals. Fish grilled over a fire at dawn, Shabbat wine, and unleavened bread. He chose to hear hungry crowds and hobnailed Roman boots and the bleating of lambs brought to sacrifice. He chose the feeling of gritty roads and weary feet, of course fabric and the pressing desert sun, of fists and beatings and thorns and nails. And Jesus chose to see. He chose to see you and to see me. And not just to see us broken and wandering before Him. He chose to walk our terrible road and rescue us from all the horrors of sin and Hell and a lifetime of death.

Saturday morning was the Revelation Chair.

Kids walked up and sat on a broken bench seat that had been torn out of the bus. They sat and took a glow stick from Van Helsing. Then they broke it. As the broken glow stick began to shine into the room, they told their story. Tales too beautiful and terrible for words. Tales of heartache and horror and God walking here among us. We wept with them and cheered for them as they stood to go. For we are all broken. Broken, bruised, and beaten down. But strangely it is those very shards and cracks which leak forth light. The light of our God, living within, bringing hope to a broken people.

No, I can’t really explain. For I am broken too. But sometimes it is enough just to know that. To see the broken places and watch a God of love as He gathers us up and works His glory. 

Boo Boo

Scruffy and That Boys Cabin

Jr. High camp has been an amazing and challenging adventure this week. Two girls and three boys chose to become followers of Christ, fun was had, kids were loved. A good week. But for this blog, I’m going to focus on a single moment.

There was a moment this week at camp. You know what I mean. A snapshot, an image that you never expected, a slice of time that you want to keep in your heart forever.

It looked like this…

Scruffy kneeling on the gritty linoleum of one of the boys cabins, weeping as Odysseus knelt at his side. And beside them were two twelve-year-old boys, praying for their camp director.

Not what you expected is it? Usually we see kids laughing and dumping water on their camp director, weeping themselves at campfire as they throw in a stick and share, or sitting on the wall by the bell tower listening to the camp director as he doles out a consequence for their misdeeds.

So this is how it happened. Once upon a time there was this really rowdy cabin of boys. And Scruffy gave them this totally awesome counselor because he knew just looking at the cabin assignments how very rowdy they would be. They met and exceeded all expectations and kept their counselor hopping all week long. After chapel the counselor asked Scruff to come and share his testimony, because you may not know it, but Scruffy did not walk out of the polished doors of a church and become camp director. His tale is more like that of C.S. Lewis, dragged screaming and kicking into the kingdom of God.

“I was born to a sixteen-year-old unwed mother, while my father was in jail…” was how Scruff began his testimony. And those rowdy boys listened. Because Scruffy hadn’t had everything going for him. He grew up without a dad and without a mom, surrounded by addiction, and eventually chose addiction himself. But God called and Scruff answered and never looked back.

Then cabin time was over and the boys left, all but two. Those two boys stayed and talked, for another hour. Because sometimes you need to meet someone who didn’t grow up with a dad and a mom who loved them and told them about Jesus for 18 years. Sometimes you need to meet someone whose Mom died before he started kindergarten, whose dad left when she was killed, someone who started drinking hard alcohol as a middleschooler, and was in the first stages of alcoholism before he could legally drink. And when you realize that this is the same man who has not been drunk since 1992, has served as a camp director for 15 summers, been a faithful and loving husband for 14 years this August, and a wonderful Dad for a decade, this is the kind of thing that can give a boy hope. Hope that we are not just the sum of our past plus the mistakes of our family. Hope that God has called us to be more. Hope that He loves us exactly how we are and can change us into something that we always wanted to be.

And when Scruffy shared about the fear that he did not have the skills to be the Dad to his boys that he longed to be. That without a good example, he was destined to fail. This twelve-year-old told him that he should pray and God would give him what he needed. Scruff asked the boys to pray for him…and they did.

And that was a moment that Scruff will never forget. Because sometimes God calls you to go on mission trips and become a camp director and preach mighty sermons before a crowded room. And sometimes He calls you to kneel on the floor of a messy boys cabin and ask two twelve-year-olds to pray for you. Pray that you will be more than what you were, more than you could ever accomplish on your own. Sometimes God calls us to kneel. It is hard and it is humbling. But God does amazing things when we are on our knees.


Boo Boo

Jr. A Camp

We just wrapped up Junior A camp yesterday. For the week of Staff Training Scruffy, Choco, and Sparks worked to prepare this year’s counselors and support staff for a summer of service. Last week all that head-knowledge was put to the test. A starlight hike to Inspiration Point, horseback rides down the dusty summer road, splashing in the sun at Lake Chelan, and dashing through the meadow with a milk jug full of water during the big water fight. There is a lot of fun to be had at camp. But all of this requires a good deal of energy, patience, and self-sacrifice. It means making sure the kids have sunscreen on lake day, close toed shoes on horse day, and a buddy close by during night games so they don’t get freaked out by the darkening woods. It means getting down in the sand to make a sculpture of a giant frog during the sand castle competition when you were up late the night before mopping the kitchen. It means sneaking a camper’s sleeping bag to the laundry room so no one knows he had an accident. It means sharing your candy to bribe the cabin inspector and standing by a child’s bunk holding her hand until she falls asleep. It means reading stories at bedtime instead of collapsing into your bunk and running for the puke bucket when your camper gets a surprise case of the flu. A difficult and beautiful task, but the week went well. Two little boys chose to become followers of Christ, a counselor and one camper asked to be baptized in the horse trough down in the meadow, and a passel of kids were shown a week of love in Jesus name. As the mom of a ten-year-old camper this week, I want to thank the counselors. I saw you welcome my boy and the children around him into your hearts. I saw you love and give and laugh and cry. I am thankful for you and I am proud of you. My little guy came home exhausted but exultant. He had a wonderful week, and I was shocked and amazed to discover that he actually remembered the main point of the chapel sessions as well. Our worth is not dependent upon our actions. God loves us and wants us as His own…just because.

Boo Boo


My husband, Scruffy, was scheduled to speak about camp at a little church on the West side of Washington, but everything went wrong. First, the generator that powers the camp broke down. Second, the backup generator that we rented at the last minute at an increased price broke down. Third, some electrical thing-a-ma-bob on the pump for the well broke down. This left Choco no choice but to drive forty minutes to Wal-Mart for jugs of water so the rental group could cook and flush toilets.

As we bid Choco goodbye and rushed over the mountains, Scruffy and I couldn’t help but think: “What in the world are we doing here?” At church that Sunday the pastor spoke from many passages, including Mark 8:34. Scruff and I had been stewing over the upcoming Staff Training session on The Gospel. One of the most important elements of Staff Training is to teach our summer staff how to share the gospel with children in a simple way that is true to scripture. Scruff and I both started scribbling notes, looked up at each other and mouthed, “Staff Training”, then continued to scribble.

Why were we there at that cute little church eating pastries, drinking coffee, and talking to folks when Choco was wrestling with the generator and the well pump and they really needed us back at camp? Perhaps there are reasons that I will never guess, but here is one of them.

Mark 8:34—“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Deny self, take up cross, follow Christ.

It doesn’t get more simple then that folks. And I don’t think you will make things any clearer or more true by adding words. This is the essence of the Christian walk. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus came, He lived, He loved, He died, He rose, He is coming, and He has called us to follow Him. How does one respond to the Gospel and become a follower? Jesus told us Himself.

Deny self, take up cross, follow me.

At that moment Scruff and I knew that we were supposed to be there. God had things to say. We had been stewing and praying and wondering over the Staff Training sessions. But God had answers, at a little church on the Westside, on the weekend that everything broke down.