It was 90 plus degrees outside and it had rained the night before. We were not only facing a day of humidity but we knew the nature hike would be a muddy mess. Along the trail we stopped by the lake for a quick break. Before I knew it, the campers were squealing with joy. I looked down to see hundreds of tiny frogs popping around like popcorn at their feet. The counselors without hesitation were ankle deep in the once despised mud, gently catching the creatures for show and tell. While the counselors knew there would be a few tears when we had to return the frogs to the lake, God used THAT MOMENT for a lesson about his beautiful creation. The older campers were not thrilled with the “take only memories and leave only footprints.” speech and it’s really hard to explain to a four year old boy why the frog can’t live in his pocket forever. This, my friends was a time for prayer. We prayed for the frogs, thanked God for the memories, and joined together in the Lord’s Prayer resounding over the expanse of the lake. Hearing each little voice echo off of each piece of God’s creation was indescribable.
The love of Jesus is everywhere at summer camp. The first camp I ever worked for described summer camp as a tool in God’s tool box for children to build a personal relationship with Jesus. Another colleague once described summer camp as just part of our spiritual DNA that paired perfectly for His plan for our lives. Camp is a safe place for kids to draw near to God, where their faith is assured, and they are loved. How can a camper be in the Word every day and not grow in the knowledge of Jesus? How can a camper be surrounded by God’s breath-taking creation and not feel His presence? How can counselors and friends spur on campers with love and they not be reminded of God’s everlasting love? God works through it all for His purpose. I look over pictures of previous years and get goosebumps when I think about the memories and experiences created at summer camp. While I spend hours planning and preparing Bible Studies, God’s love is ever-present in the more simple moments too. You know…
Play Doh- Charlie
Paper Airplanes- Braeden
Field Trips- Olivia
Long Bus Rides- Field Day
Post It Notes- Kolten
Rainy Day Activities – Bible Study
Teamwork- Ben V.
Smoldering Nature Hikes- Kolten
Silly Skits- Ella
And of course, Relationships!
I don’t know, though. Each and every year I have been in camp ministry it has faced unique challenges. Does one measure success by counting money, numbering smiles, tallying surveys, or calculating memories? I choose to close my eyes and listen to a six year old pray in front of the entire camp or sing along to random outburst of “The Hippo Song” at the zoo. Most of all, I thank God for each and every camper that He brings to camp.
Online registration is open for Messiah’s Summer Camp (ages preschool-8th grade). Flexible scheduling, fun field trips, amazing counselors age 18+.
By Wesly Pinkston, Messiah’s Connections Coordinator and Summer Camp Coordinator.