Monday, June 22, 2009

Camp Musings

It's hot!
I spent a week at church camp recently so I thought I'd jot down a few observations.  First, you need to know why I have dodged camp for so long.
It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at Ole Miss.  That's along time ago, in case you don't know.  Anyway, it was the first summer that Sardis Lake Christian Camp had full-fledged summer camp.  The year before they only had day-camp.  I was recruited for the job of Assistant Camp Director.  The Director's job was filled each session by a different preacher.  They were there only one week.  I was there all summer!  My job was to keep the camp running.  I was the first up in the morning (even before the kitchen staff), and the last to go to bed at night.  It was great fun, but by the time all the sessions were over, I was completely exhausted.  No, it was worse than that, if you can believe it.  Though I've always been glad I had that job that summer, I made up my mind that I would not "do camp" again!
So, I surprised myself when I accepted the invitation to participate in a one-week session this summer.  I was asked to teach the staff Bible class, and then help out with various activities.  It was a good job.  I got to speak one night, took a couple of turns at "Reflections," the late-night teen devo, and the most fun was helping out with the teen ropes course!  I also got to reflect a bit on my week's experience, and a few things stand out to me.
1.  Kids haven't really changed all that much.  Oh, some of them look different.  Clothes and hair are different, but only in looks.  When I was a teenager, our clothes and hair looked different too.  But the emotions, the needs, the questions, etc., are all pretty much the same.  That was a surprise to me because after reading some experts on today's youth, I expected young folks to be something akin to aliens.  Not really true.
2.  Heat is worse now than it was when I was in college.  Well, maybe it's not the heat.  The college kids who served as counselors this summer seemed to manage it pretty well, as did the campers.  It was us old guys (and gals) who struggled with it.
3.  Singing is still a very popular spiritual activity with young people.  I'm happy about that one.  I've always believed that singing is a powerful tool to reach the minds and hearts of people.  Yes, they are sometimes tentative, but once you get them going, young folks love to sing.
4.  I'm impressed at how hard a lot of adults will work to provide a week's camp experience for kids.  Went to the chow hall one night at 11:30 for a late night cup of coffee.  There was a lady there making chicken salad for the next day's lunch.  I watched young adults work themselves silly so that the kids could have fun.  Counselors worked hard to keep the heat and activities from wearing out the kids, and handling teen tempers and hormones!
5.  I'm amazed at how serious a lot of our youth are about their faith.  I had the opportunity to study with some of them one-on-one.  They were eager, open, and fully accepting of God's will.  They love Jesus, and want to follow Him.  That's been true of young people in just about every generation.  It's good to know that desire and openness is still alive and well.
6.  I was impressed with the way young people served and took their turn at chores.  They served on the chow line, poured iced tea, cleaned up, worked in the kitchen, cleaned the cabins and shower house, picked up trash, and generally worked without too much complaining.  You didn't think they did all that without any complaining did you?  Still, they did a great job.
7.  Will I do it again?  I don't know.  Let's wait until next summer for the answer.  But I did have a great time, met some great people, and thoroughly enjoyed being there.  Maybe the best part of all is that it left an impression on me that Jesus is still able to do great things with people.  Save them, change them, grow them, use them.  It's great to be a part of all that.