My mind, lately, has been focused on things camp. It's summer, which by itself is enough to get my mind wandering and remembering my glory days as a camp counselor, but several of my bloggy friends have posted or commented about how they are headed off to camp this week. That sort of makes me jealous. I want to be out at camp!
I think when I graduate seminary and receive my first call into a church, I'm going to find out if they already take kids to church camp every summer and, if so, which camp they go to. If not, I'm going to do some local camp shopping, find which one I like the best, and then start pushing summer camp like crazy. If for not other reason then so that I can go to camp.
But seriously, I believe that church camp is an amazing experience. I don't remember the exact number right offhand, but a large number of people who pursue vocations in ministry have had church camp experience. Many people claim that it was at camp that they first experienced the calling to ministry. But even if it doesn't go that far, I've seen junior high youth arrive at camp at the beginning of the week, believing that they are far too cool to participate in something as uncool and lame as a sing-along at church camp. By the end of the week, they are singing and clapping and having a grand ol' time. I've seen youth get upset when their parents left them at camp, crying because they didn't want to be there, and then by the time the end of the week rolls around, they're crying because their parents are there and they don't want to go home. I've seen youth trade addresses and e-mails with other campers, so that they can all register for the same week the following summer. I've seen God work in amazing ways through counselors and campers and maintenance workers and kitchen staff and camp directors.
Of course, camp wasn't always a happy fun time. I've had homesick campers who do nothing but cry. I've had campers (during a 1st-3rd grade week) call me an f***ing idiot and kick, bite, pinch, and hit me. I've had two campers have bowel issues which I won't discuss any further. I've had campers lash out at other campers as well as counselors. But, in hindsight, those things don't seem nearly as bad as they did when they were happening. And besides, without those experiences, I wouldn't have some of my great stories that I love to share with others.
So, yeah. It's summer time. The weather is hot and wonderful. The days are long. I want to be outside leading kids on a hike or paddling a canoe across the lake or playing games in the pool or lounging in the shade of a tree leading Bible Study or jumping and singing camp songs around a campfire.
God bless church camps!!!