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Church Camp: A Lifelong Journey of Faith and Fellowship




As I sit down to reflect on the role of church camp in my life, I'm reminded of a pivotal moment in that sacred space: the day I received the Holy Ghost. It was a profound experience that has since guided every step of my journey. This leads me to ponder, "Is church camp necessary?" For me, the answer is woven into the fabric of my life story.

 

Divine Encounters in Nature's Embrace

Church camp provided the perfect setting for my spiritual awakening. Amidst the tranquil beauty of God's creation, I felt the Holy Ghost move within me, offering clarity and connection I had never known. This encounter became the cornerstone of my faith.

 

The Path of Friendship

After high school, I followed the path of divine connections, moving to the city where my church camp friend lived. Our shared experiences at camp had forged a bond that would shape my life.

 

A Tapestry of Memories

So many chapters of my life were written at church camp. Each summer brought new stories, lessons, and growth. As I matured, I transitioned from camper to counselor, embracing the opportunity to guide others on their spiritual paths.

 

Love Found in Service

The narrative of my camp experience took a beautiful turn when I met my future wife, Marcia. We served as counselors, our shared commitment to nurturing young faiths blossoming into a love that would join our journeys together. I watched her that week of how she treated those in her care, and how she prayed with each one.

 

A Heart for Ministries

Church camp did more than deepen my faith; it expanded my worldview. It taught me the value of supporting ministries, missions, and various outreach efforts. The camp environment fostered a spirit of generosity and taught us the significance of contributing to God's work in all its forms.

 

Cherished Connections

The friendships I made at church camp are among the most cherished in my life. Acquaintances like Jorjana, Gloria, Raphael, Jose, Trecia, Jeremy, Benji, Timothy, Phil, Sherry, Carol, and Bryan quickly became dear friends. Each one has brought unique perspectives, encouragement, and joy into my life, and our shared memories from camp are treasures that I hold dear.

 

Lessons from the Wilderness

The teachings at church camp were not confined to the four walls of a chapel; they happened amidst the grandeur of nature. I vividly remember Bishop Carroll leading us on a hike that culminated in a clearing. Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of nature, he shared the Word of God with us. It was a moment where the divine text met the divine creation, leaving an indelible mark on my soul. These experiences and others like them have directed and redirected my life toward the ministry I am now a part of.

 

A Humorous Twist

One of the more lighthearted and endearing memories from my time as a counselor involves a group of 8-12-year-old boys and a small hair styling crisis. As evening service approached, I was tasked with helping them get ready, which included doing their hair. The only catch? My hair styling skills were limited to the way I did my hair. Undeterred, we went ahead, and the result was a dozen boys walking into service, each sporting a hairstyle that was a mirror image of their counselor's. It was a sight that brought smiles all around and a story that we'd reminisce about for years to come.

 

Missions Day and the Egg-U-Flung

Missions Day at camp was always a highlight, filled with games that tied into the day's topic or lesson. But the one that stands out the most is the Egg-U-Flung. We had a Chinese takeout box, and our mission was to toss an egg back and forth in a relay race without breaking it. It was a delightful blend of chaos and concentration, and it taught us about teamwork, trust, and the art of gentle handling—qualities that are just as important in our spiritual lives as they are in an egg toss.

 

The Shenanigans of Youth

Camp wasn't all sermons and songs; it was also a time for youthful mischief. I recall sneaking out of the cabin with my friend, Ralph, when our counselor, Brother Lloyd, fell asleep, only to be caught by Bishop Carroll while playing miniature golf after midnight. As a counselor myself, I remember paying the boys a dollar to catch frogs for me, which I'd then sneak into the girls' dorm through the bathroom window. And who could forget the thrill of running from Brother White, the night security on his golf cart, or the time we turned all the license plates upside down to frame one unsuspecting camper for the prank? These moments of innocent fun are just as much a part of my camp memories as the spiritual ones.

 

A Ministry Blossomed

Throughout my journey, church camp has been more than a seasonal commitment; it has been the crucible where my calling as a minister was forged. From counselor to teacher, evangelist to pastor, the roles I have embraced over the years have all been shaped by the lessons and experiences from camp. It is here that I learned to lead, to inspire, and to shepherd the flock entrusted to my care.

 

Conclusion

Is church camp necessary? If we measure necessity by the ability to inspire, educate, and mobilize individuals for the greater good, then yes, church camp is essential. It's a place where the Holy Spirit transforms hearts and prepares hands for action. It's a sanctuary where faith becomes active, where love is shown through support for ministries and missions, and where lives are forever changed.

Church camp serves as a vital bridge that brings people to Christ and keeps them engaged with the Church. The experiences, friendships, and spiritual moments cultivated at camp play a crucial role in faith formation, particularly among the youth. In a very real sense, we can't afford not to have church camp.

As we consider the future of our churches, a pressing question arises: Who will support the church's mission and expenses as time goes on? The answer lies with the younger generations. The youth, who are brought into the fold and nurtured by the church camp experience, are the ones who will carry the torch forward. They are the future leaders, givers, and pillars of the church. It's through camp that we invest in that future, ensuring a vibrant and thriving church for years to come.

Scripture reminds us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together, and indeed, to seek fellowship even more as we see the Day approaching. Church camp embodies this principle, providing a space for believers to come together in worship, learning, and encouragement. It stands as a testament to the power of community and the enduring relevance of gathering in His name, Jesus!

As we share our camp stories and continue to build our community online, let's connect over the memories that make church camp unforgettable. Use the hashtags #pizza, #golfcarts, #fireworks, #slipnslide, #campchoir, #preachers, and #teachers to share your moments and keep the spirit of camp alive!

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