Growing up, I never attended summer camps or vacation Bible school. This past year I attended my first summer camp with the youth from my church. Nestled up in the mountains, the lodge we stayed in at Camp Y’Shua was a wooden lodge with wrap-around porches on the top and bottom level. I chatted awhile with one youth on the top-level balcony one evening, as we marveled at the beauty of nature around us. He shared with me some concerns about his girlfriend…the she-feels-but-I-feels of young love.
The camp also has a large covered basketball court, where we staged all of our games and challenges. The kids raced across the court with gummy worms clasped carefully between their toes, water balloons between their legs, and of course, blindfolds over their eyes. Every night, the boys (and our pastor) would gather on the court and have a friendly game of basketball. One night, while the intense game ensued, one of the girls shared with me her desire to have Christ come into her life – the how-do-I’s and how-can-He’s of a budding relationship with Christ.
There is a covered picnic area near the basketball court – a smattering of metal picnic tables. Though we never gathered there as a group, many would take a break from the blistering sun to talk with their friends. One night, a youth shared with me her family concerns. The struggles and stress of married life are hard enough on adults…but even more so on the children caught in the middle. She asked me to pray for her family – the I’m-going-to-be-strong and the I-need-strengths of a young woman with a heavy heart.
The lower level of the lodge housed the kitchen and an open area that we used for our lessons, our meals, and our pranks…afterall, what camp would be complete without pranks. Our pastor is a bit of a magician, too. One night, the youth gathered around as he amazed them with tricks – and me too. I still can’t figure out half of them. They giggled, they gasped, they gaped…and a few pondered the ins and outs of the illusion.
The upper level housed our bedrooms. In the middle of the rooms were four couches. Often times we gathered there; some slept, some talked…but we all united. Both upper and lower levels were used in playing Murder – a cross between hide-and-seek and Clue. The goal is to (a) stay alive, (b) if you are a detective, figure out who the killer is, and (c) if you are the killer, take out the detectives so you can win. Playing hide and seek in the dark and jumping at every shuffle and scrape coming from behind you is like riding a roller coaster without getting nauseous. It makes me feel like a little kid as nervous giggles well up in my throat and I struggle to suppress them.
Camp was awesome, and has become a favorite summer memory. We had fun, lots of laughter was shared, Christ was shared, and we all grew closer to God. The youth group was not something I wanted to step into – in fact, I tried hard to run from it. These kids are a fountain of good things, that keep spilling over into my life…like it or not. They make me feel young and old at the same time. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they keep me on my knees (praying for them and for me) and they’ve helped me grow closer to God.