Initially I was concerned with the size of HS Camp this year, a few days before there were only 20 registered. Note: When I was a freshman, HS Camp only had 19 campers. We looked around often and said “Wait, where’s the other family groups?” All the guys stayed in one A-Frame together that week. It was still a fun, life changing experience though. By Tuesday morning last week we realized why camp was so small. There were a lot of campers from rough situations. Because of the size they got a lot of personal attention. What were we worried about?
As the week moved on at breakneck speed, it was hard take it all in. This seemed like the fastest camp I’ve ever directed. I don’t really know what the difference was between this year and years past. I’ll have to ponder more on that.
Monday I was wondering when I was going to squeeze in “my” football skit one last time. The answer came in a 6 hour deluge with a side of lightning. So I thought, we’ll do a skit night. I’ll give them 20 minutes to come up with something then we’ll get to the laughing. It was a fun night! The finishing touch of course was that most of us slid down a muddy hill into a huge puddle.
I’m not going to lie, it was outstanding to get to spend some face time with my long-term colleague and friend Nathan Workman. Timely because we are both moving on to new things. Both not sure what’s next. There’s something that warms your soul when you get quality time with an old friend. We talked about where God could be taking us and what shapes the churches we may birth, spur on or reboot might look like. We needed that.
Doc Stevens. Oh how I love thee Doc Stevens. This guy loves God. This guy loves to help people know God better. He selflessly has served Warner Camp for many years. Great to spend time with Doc!
We did a lot of old standbys like Lana Schism, Thursday cook out by the lake, Airborne Attach[a night game], bon fires and the cross walk. To those of you who went to camp with me, most of the things we’ve done the last few years aren’t our old standbys. Funny how traditions change and morph. Still the backbone of the time at Warner is time in family groups. Team building, discussion, “whatever time”/free time, prayer, reflection all done as a tribe. Every week at camp a group of strangers melds into a family in just 4.5 short days. Shared experience my friends, shared experience.
After we worshiped Thursday night it was time for the cross walk. For those of you unfamiliar with this tradition let me explain. The whole camp leaves the Tabernacle where we worship and walks down a paved path. All the lights are turned off on the hill by all the main buildings. After about 40 yards there’s candles that line the sides of the path, leading up to Mosquito Hill where we have bon fires. The entire camp is silent, as they pick up three 20ft tall crosses and carry them a few hundred yards. Once we reach Mosquito Hill they’re placed in holes in the ground so they can stand up. Most camps have a prayer or silence to ponder what they just did. This year there was a good 3-4 minutes before I heard any murmuring. Then we sit around the fire and share what we learned, how we grew or any cherished memories we made during the week. My friends, some of the things I heard brought tears to my eyes. Things like “I’ve never felt the presence of God before this week. Now I really hear God speaking to my in my heart!”, “I’ve never been to a place so loving and caring before! You can tell that people live how God wants them to here”, “My counselor listens to me and cares about me. That just helped me know that God really loves me.”, “I don’t stop to think and pray much in life. But after this week, I’ve seen the benefit of slowing down and just being with God”! I’m sure I screwed these up, and I’m sure I left something out. Powerful none the less. These are the reasons I do ministry and especially camp ministry. I had these types of responses as a camper. I want to provide those same types of experiences for campers.
So I did what set out to do. Set up a week that campers could be known by counselors and each other. Create experiences that facilitated and allowed the Holy Spirit to work. And along the whole journey to relish those moments I had with old and new friends, knowing it’s probably my last camp at Warner. It was a great week. One that will leave a lasting impression on campers, and even this salty veteran director. I’ll see you guys around cyberspace. I will miss you Old Friend. [If that was too poetic for you Old Friend = Warner Camp.] Later, or at least until I think of more to say about it.