I had a chance to spend a few hours at Teen Camp yesterday as an official representative of the Throwback Thursday crew (former staff member and camper from way back in the day representing) and as always had a wonderful time. Here are eight take-aways.
1. We started the summer at Camp Meeting with a series of messages from Rev. James Rudd about revival and the topic is playing out again this week not only in the form of a theme that lends itself nicely to playing a night game with zombies but also in terms of the business being done at the altar and at the prayer tents and altars placed around the grounds (more on this in No. 2).
2. One of the first things I saw entering the grounds was a prayer tent set up near the boys dorm, aka the greatest place on earth. Inside the tent were the chalk boards Rachel mentioned earlier this week on the blog with words representing the kind of revival that has been taking place this week not only in the hearts of teenagers but in the hearts of the staff. My first thought was that it was more than just an effective tool for young people to connect with our Creator, but a wonderful way to tie in with the heritage of an organization that dates back to the tent meeting revivals of the late 1800s. The founders of camp might be confused with a lot of the things we do at camp – like Wawa Man and Zombie-themed night games – but they would feel right at home in those prayer tents.
3. The staff may look young, but it’s comforting to know there are staffers this week who are old enough to have been on staff when I was a teen camper from 1994 to 1997. I won’t name any names so as to not embarrass but if you’re curious you can look for gray hair in the photos.
4. The worship band, which I hear has taken to calling themselves Holy Improv, is really awesome. And I’m not talking talent – though there is plenty. What a wonderful time of worship it was last night. Also, as someone who tires quickly from songs that get played repeatedly in worship, I was particularly blessed by the song they wrote for the week that ties in with the theme. Stay tuned for more on that song.
5. Campers becoming staff. One of the joys of being involved in cap ministry summer after summer (subtract this year from 1998 to get the number of years I’ve been involved) is seeing young people surrender their hearts to Christ and answering the call to ministry. As sad as it is to see kids go in the opposite direction it warms my heart even more to see the ones with whistles around their necks and know that in some small way God somehow used me to make that happen.
6. I can be a curmudgeon sometimes when it comes to high school kids because my heart has long been for junior high kids but one of the things I’ve always loved about Teen Camp is the testimonies. Hearing one of the campers talk about how she has dedicated her life to God reminded me how serious the battle is for the souls of these high school kids and how much these young people need our prayers and our witness. It’s easy for me to look back on high school and ask what the big deal is because I have perspective now. In the midst of it, it can be brutally lonely and socially suicidal to follow Christ.
7. The camp looks great. While we sometimes like to apologize for “the facilities” at camp and it’s easy to complain about the lack of air conditioning in the dorms, there’s a reason why summer programs that don’t take place in the woods or in a natural setting calling themselves summer camp are a complete joke. Camp has never looked better and in a summer where the paid staff was slashed that’s a real testament to the sweat and elbow grease of a few paid staff and a host of volunteers.
8. The staff don’t have it altogether. Last time I checked we don’t have a requirement for staff that they be perfect. Otherwise the camp would have a staff of one (Jesus). Just because someone has a whistle around their neck and their name in the program doesn’t mean they don’t have brokenness, anger, self-doubt and struggles with God. Hearing a couple staff members boldly share about their struggles last night and the way God has revived them this week was an awesome reminder of that.
For those who have visited or been at camp this week, what is your No. 9?
Photo of the Victory Board posted by Rachel Rogers, on Twitter