A Portal Story


Camp is like a portal story.

Do you like portal stories? The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe or The Lost World or The Paradise War or The Polar Express, these are all portal stories. I’m actually writing a portal story right now. A portal story takes the protagonist through some kind of portal and into another world. Whether it is an old wardrobe, a deadly plateau in South America, a Celtic burial mound, or a mysterious train, portal stories take you to a magical place. Just like camp.

When you walk into camp, you walk into another world. Camp takes normal, everyday people and turns them into campers or counselors. It resides outside of the ordinary. Deep in the forest, away from homework and cellphones, traffic tickets and PE. People sing at camp, when they won’t anywhere else on earth. Sometimes they even do hand motions! People play pranks at camp and rush through the forest in camouflage clothing and eat an entire bowl of Jell-O just because someone said that they couldn’t. Camp opens the eye to the amazing creation that surrounds us and opens the heart to the amazing God who made us and loves us as His own.

Even God wrote a portal story. One about how He saw that we would never reach Him no matter how hard we tried. So He stepped down from on high, into our world, to give us a chance.

I love portal stories. How about you?


Boo Boo



Have you ever been lost? Not just confused or turned around, but completely and inexplicably lost? I have, and I was not a child left alone at the fair or in the mall. I was 32 years old and it was terrifying.

Scruffy and I had flown into Colorado to visit family and friends. Our three boys had just finished their very first plane ride and a long drive in the car. We walked up a hill to the local park to goof off until dinner. Something strange about Colorado is that the weather can literally change in an instant. I’m serious, they can have a hot summer day that is interrupted by snowfall. It was warm and sunny, shirtsleeve weather. One of our boys was in shorts and a t-shirt running around barefoot. I was barefoot too.  When he had an accident, I took our then five-year-old by the hand and we walked to my aunt’s house to change. It got colder and colder, cold enough to snow. We walked and walked, barefoot and carrying our shoes. I couldn’t find the house. I couldn’t find the street. I stopped and made my son put on his shoes. We kept walking. We were thirsty, but there was nowhere to get a drink. We were tired and cold and hungry, but passed house after tightly closed house, knowing that none of them was for us.

I’d never realized the deep, sweeping fear that comes with homelessness. I could not protect my child from the elements. I could not ease his tears with anything but a hug. I could not get him a drink or change his wet clothes. We had nowhere to go. I would have been thrilled to find a police man or a homeless shelter or just some person with a cell phone. But there was nothing but houses and they were closed to us.

I was only homeless for about an hour and a half, but the feeling is still with me. Eventually, we walked out of the residential area and found a pizza delivery place with a map. That moment when I finally found the right house and knocked. When Abuela (whom I had never met before) flung the door open and pulled us into her arms with tears and shouts of praise, I will never forget it.

I was running to the library in the rain last week. Driving rain at 35 degrees F is incredibly cold. Just my rush to the book drop box and back soaked my clothes. My mind flitted back to that moment of homelessness. My heart clenched tight as I knew that there were moms out there in such a storm, holding a child’s hand, lost and without a place to go.

What does this have to do with camp? Wen I interview campers and counselors about Camas, that is the phrase I hear most of all.

“Camp is home to me.” or “Camas is my family.”

Even when we have shelter and a place to put our things, sometimes we still feel that crushing weight of homelessness. But pull a kid into a cabin full of laughing, shouting, teasing, tumbling kids. Wrap them up with love and care, good food, and fun games. Take the time to answer their questions about God and life and that strange butterfly on the path that they noticed and no one else did. That feels like the door bursting open and Abuela snatching you into her arms and shouting across the house “They are here!” That feels like another story I have heard before. One with a worried shepherd and a bleating lamb tangled and alone on thorny mountainside.

And so as I watched the rain fall last week and the snow drift down today, I thank God that I was found. I am spurred on once more. Spurred on to do this thing God has called us to do, in the place He has called us to be. It sounds so simple, “camp.” But the simple can be sacred as well. A place where we can finally see God, where we can finally come home.



Boo Boo

Fall CamasCon 2015


This last weekend was the 9th annual CamasCon Christian Board Gaming Retreat. This is a camp where Christian gamers get together to play strategy boards until their eyes are crossed and their behinds are numb from sitting still through epic board game experiences such as the seven hour long Twilight Imperium III, or the Settlers of Catan tournament where sixteen campers battle it out for the title of Champion of Catan.


In preparation for the big event, Scruffy moved his personal board game collection over to the camp. This year he weighed all the games as he moved them. There is a reason Scruff’s back is always hurting after CamasCon. The total is in… his collection weighs an amazing 667 pounds.


Nearly 700 pounds, plus all of the games that other campers brought with them, produced a ton of fun for big kids at heart and younger gamers alike.


Mike Vanderveen was the speaker this year and he challenged the campers to use the fun of gaming to develop true friendships where Christ can be shared with others.


So whether they won or lost, CamasCon brought Christian gamers together for a time of deepening their relationship with the Lord and with each other and quite possibly finally taking home the victory from that one particular person who always beat them at Settlers, every single year.


Boo Boo



Here at Camas Meadows we are incredibly blessed. There are so many amazing people who simply love the camp and that love overflows in fabulous projects like this. The porch on Squirrel Cabin has been in need of replacement for some time. Built in the 70s that porch has weathered rowdy boy campers and actual weather alike, but had come to its last leg after many years of faithful service. The problem, camp did not have the funds for such a project. But out of the blue, one of our counselor parents, stepped in and made this beautiful renovation of Squirrel cabin possible. John and Sue Torrence’s three children are no longer campers or counselors, and yet Camas has remained in this family’s heart. Clint Griffith milled the lumber and then John came up to camp, day after day (even on Sue’s birthday…thank you Sue!) and built the porch, by himself, as a labor of love. But that’s not all.


Many of you have enjoyed being doused with water in the camp’s aging dunk tank. That much-loved feature finally passed on last year. Above is our brand new dunk tank, designed and built once again, by John Torrence. A clear plastic liner will allow campers to enjoy each dunking, even after the dunkee is submerged! Thank you so very much! We could not do this without you and realize that we are beyond a doubt, incredibly blessed.


Boo Boo