Atomic God Bomb

A summer of camp ministry wrings you out and scrapes you dry. But it is important. Because after you are all done, when all that you have is spent and still more is needed, God steps in.

The night before Senior High camp Scruffy got 3 and ½ hours of sleep. Why? He spent an hour playing a board game with our three sons. They miss their Dad and they needed him. He spent time talking with busy and weary staff members until 10:00, because they needed instructions or encouragement or just a listening ear. Then he spent some time with me, watching a TV show, because he’d been busy with camp all week and I needed him too. After I went to bed, at midnight, that was when he started on cabin assignments and all the necessary paperwork to get another camp going the next day. Up before 7:00am for a vet visit and camp shopping and then straight into staff meeting and camper registration. Two, maybe two and a half hours into Senior High camp I found him on the camp porch staring out into the forest. We sat on the dusty old camp couch, holding hands. The dry, fragrant forest surrounded us along with the sound of kids in the meadow playing a group game. Scruffy quietly wept as he told me about a camper he had already talked to, hours into camp, broken by life and trying so hard to just be a normal girl. But how can you be just another kid having fun at camp, when life has given you a battle instead of a childhood. That was Monday.

Van Helsing spoke on the power of God.

The Power to Change

The Power to Fight

The Power to Love

The Power to Forgive

The Power to Surrender

We needed the power of God and that is exactly what we received. Pressed down and overflowing, more than we had asked for or could rightfully imagine.

Amazing things happened this week. We saw kids asking to mop. Asking to serve. Asking mind you, not dragging behind their counselor moping and grumbling and making snotty comments. Nope, asking. A young man previously overheard telling someone that kitchen work “sucked”, was seen kicking the support staff out of the kitchen so that they could take a break while he did dishes, even though he was a camper this week. A girl who said that camp was more than family to her. We heard things like “Camas is my home” and “This is the best week in my entire life”. A boy prayed out boldly “God, keep your hand here forever, on this Non-Judgmental place.”

Change happened. The power of God worked among us. God pushed kids forward, away from past hurts and defeats. Forward to heal and to love and to forgive. Van Helsing had been working on these messages for a year. On the last night he obeyed the prompting of the spirit, ditched/surrendered his message, and only spoke for five minutes. Then the campers and counselors prayed and worshipped together for three hours straight.

The Power of God at work, when there is nothing left in us, that is what we saw this week.

So many amazing things, but let me tell you just one. There was a camper this week, he’s been coming to Camas for years. As a junior camper, as a junior high camper, and this year he came to high school camp. Last year he described himself as an atheist. This year, he committed himself to follow God. Even though the cost will be high for him and he knows it, he boldly handed his heart to Jesus Christ.

On the last day of camp Scruffy wept again, standing before the campers, telling our story. How God has taken two people and given us love and life and made us more than we were before.

God’s Power, among us. It is amazing to behold.


Boo Boo

Jars of Clay

This was our third week of camp, fourth if you count staff training. Each morning as I sat in staff meeting I would listen to the chorus of coughs around me. Scruffy would pass the vitamin C as counselors would ask for prayer. For energy, for wisdom, for patience. And then later in the day I had the privilege of watching these same weary teens go all out for God.

The above picture of Epona letting a camper douse her with water is just one example. These teens loved you kids this week. They loved my kids this week. Two of my boys gave their counselor a run for his money (well they would have. . . if their counselor had been paid) and we got to hear all about a week full of cabin competitions and pranking and hikes and swimming and horseback riding and paintball. On Thursday Scruffy read this verse to the staff after they stumbled into staff meeting in their Jammy pants with cups of coffee clutched tight in their fists.

2Corinthians 4:7

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

So true. Without Him that long hike up to Stone Face seems impossible. Without Him that 10th camper to soak you with water seems like the end. Without Him it feels like we struggle in vain. 

A little boy came to Christ this week.

So many other children caught a glimpse of God. In the speaker’s lessons. In the morning devotions. In the songs sung at the highest possible decibel. In the counselors love and care through dust and bees, slip-n-slide and night games, water kickball and that quiet moment walking together down the trail. 

We are jars of clay and yet God does great things with humble vessels. Thank you so much for letting Him work in you. You are an inspiration to me as I struggle along trying to serve God in the every day, trusting that I too can have an eternal impact.


Boo Boo

Twix and Coke

If you are used to church, camping ministry can seem a bit odd. Yes, the camp speaker and your pastor both preach out of God’s word. But once in awhile at camp, your Bibles are also incorporated into cabin skits and night games in the dark forest. Yes, Sunday School often includes snacks, scripture memorization, and crafts, all traditional camp activities. But at camp there are times when you are part of the craft, as demonstrated in the photo above featuring sandcastle building. 

But while we might look a bit strange up here at Camas Meadows Bible Camp, we are still just followers of Christ seeking to share His glory with kids. At church a child might seek out the pastor after the sermon. The same thing happens here, with just a few differences. A child seeks out the camp speaker and his counselor. They sit and chat on the porch at the main lodge. These guys share their time and attention with one of God’s children in the pine-scented quiet of the forest. Except, while the air is indeed pine-scented, the forest may not be all that quiet if there is an all-camp pillow fight going on at the same time.

At church children can learn about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as they participate in communion with their parents for the first time. Here at camp this happens too. But it sometimes looks a little different. Like a counselor breaking a Twix bar and pouring out her can of Coke to share with her girls as they contemplate the body and blood of the one who gave everything to make them real live princesses, true daughters of the king.

A little strange, yes. But such is the body of Christ. Each of us have our part to play in God’s amazing story. Some of us get to wear a suit and tie or a fancy dress while we follow our Lord, while some of us serve by chewing up a dill pickle and spitting it into a glass bottle faster than that pesky boys cabin who TP’d the cabin last night. Don’t let this stop you though, teach that Sunday School class, eat that pickle, and serve God in the way that He has called you. 


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. . . Who Loved Us

 This week began our summer camp season with our fist camp for grade school children Jr. A. Frosty, our speaker spoke from Romans 12 and as I talked to counselors and campers and listened in during Staff Meeting in the mornings I heard wonderful things. Two new Christians were born this week, a boy and a girl both decided to follow God. Other children decided to go deeper with their Lord. I heard about how kids spoke of wanting to take the next step with God, wanting to learn how to obey and become more and more like Jesus each day.

I was able to go down to the campfire on Thursday night and be a part of the singing and sharing out under the stars. No, we didn’t have an actual campfire (the fire danger is intense this year) but we sang together beneath the darkening sky, jumping around to the fast songs (I myself tripped during “Lean on Me” and lost my glasses beneath a pig pile of happy children who were doing the motions to the song) and raising our hands up toward heaven as the music slowed. Then a glowing red flashlight was placed in the fire pit and any child who wished to share took a glowstick and stepped forward. As the wind finally cooled for the evening and a full moon began to rise just beyond the trees, children stood and shared their hearts. 

Some were silly and some were serious and all of them were so very brave to stand and praise God before their peers. “I want to thank God for my new friends.” “I want to thank God for Frosty and how he made us understand the Bible.” “I want to thank God for all the fun I had.” These sentiments were common and heartfelt. It is a big thing to leave home for an entire week and realize that you have made it to the end.

There was one little girl who stood out to me. She didn’t rush through what she had to say. She spoke and then paused, fiddled with the glowstick, and then slowly spoke again. I knew that this particular child had been reluctant to participate in cabin discussions and chapel times. The music was too loud for her, but she listened from outside the lodge where one of her counselors always kept her company. Her counselors tried new ways to make her feel welcome and hoped that she would enjoy camp in the end.

“I want to thank my counselors for sticking with me the whole week. . . and I want to thank God for all the counselors who took care. . . who loved us.”

I am so glad that she realized that her counselors careful care of her was in actuality love. Because if kids can see love in us, then there is hope that they will be able to see God as well. For God has sent us to camp to serve and God Himself is love. So I want to thank our counselors as well, two of my boys were campers this week. Thank you for your sacrifices and you care. Thank you for your love. 


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