As every one knows, I just spent the week at our annual youth church camp at Budd Creek Missionary Baptist Camp in Greers Ferry, Arkansas. I tried to post some as events unfolded, but really blogging wasn’t my mission for this week.
Church camp is a lot of things.
It’s simply the best mission work on the planet. Very rarely is there an opportunity to present God’s Word and the plan of salvation to so many for so long. It pays off. I venture to say that more souls come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ in that week, proportionally, than in the entire year of our outreach efforts in most of our churches. This week we saw 14 individuals come to salvation. Notably, two of these were adult sponsors! Additionally, one young man surrendered to preach the Gospel at camp this year.
It’s fun. Many of the hours in the day are spent simply having fun and enjoying one another’s company. We play games, sports, and just hang out a LOT.
It’s exhausting, particularly for the sponsors who take the kids to camp. Officially, wake up is 700 AM, and lights out is 1030 PM. For most of the sponsors, the day really runs from around 500 AM until sometime after midnight. Exhausting. Add to that the fact that many of us middle aged to older folks do things this week that we simply don’t do during the year. Things like kickball and softball. Running from one place to another quickly takes its toll when it’s only done once a year!
It’s a lot of love. It’s love for the kids. We take a lot of kids with us who simply aren’t loved in their daily lives as they should be. There’s a lot of love among the adults who take these kids. Relationships are built at camp which last for literally decades. Is it perfect love? Hardly. Some of these kids don’t have as much guidance as maybe they ought to, and they act out at times. Heck, some of us adults don’t have the training WE need, and we act out at times. Sometimes the strife and conflict can be quite intense. You simply can’t place several hundred people in close quarters for 5 days and there not be friction. This year, we actually had a pretty serious and potentially damaging conflict between two sponsors. As usual, though, God was working a plan through even this. Love ultimately won here, and a fully grown man was brought to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ in the end. Amen and amen.
It’s a chance for men to step up and be many of the things God intended them to be. I know some will be ready to lynch me here, but that’s okay. At our camp, positive male leadership, guidance, and teaching is both the norm and the expectation. Many of us learn how to be these leaders at camp, and the kid’s get to see Godly men in action for this time. I think one of the things we do each year provides a good example of how this works. The Preacher/Sponsor versus camper softball game is probably the sporting high point of every year at Budd Creek camp. Basically, the preachers and male sponsors face off against the boys 13 and up. Guess what? Every year, year after year, the old guys just stomp the fire out of the young men. Godly men in action. I know that may sound cheesy, but the impact of that one simple game in terms of manly role modeling can’t be discounted.
It’s a chance for women to step up and be many of the things God intended them to be. Positive female leadership, guidance, and teaching is also the norm and the expectation. This is a great chance for them to learn how to lead the young people in their lives, and yes even to teach and mentor the men how to be leaders in their families and in their churches.
Finally, it is separation from the ugliness of the world and total immersion in Jesus Christ for five solid days. All day, every day, we hear God’s Word and about His Son Jesus Christ. Formally, there are devotionals, preachings, and Bible Studies. Even when it’s recreation time comes, Jesus remains the focus, and it talked about with every breath. I couldn’t count the number of prayers said during a day during this week.
Now, however, it is over. We leave camp on Friday fired up for God, loving God, immersed in God, and ready to serve God. By Monday, many will have forgotten it all, and be right back where they were the previous Monday when they drove through the camp gate.