This blog post is the fourth installment of a series on church camp. You can find the first post about Kids Camp by clicking this link here, the second post about Junior High Camp by clicking on this link, and the third post about Senior camp can be found by clicking this link.
I should have stated this from the beginning… No one asked me to write this series. I actually had no intention of blogging about church camp at all. Last Thursday, I was working on homeschool planning for this upcoming school year and praying over our family’s direction when I felt that I needed to write this all out. It hit me out of nowhere, I walked in to my laptop, started typing, and what you see is the result. Hopefully I have not upset anyone with my doing this… But what you see is honest and from my heart. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on… shall we?
Alright, so you’ve heard all about what goes on at each camp. Now let me respond to some concerns you may be having… You know that it is very involved to pack everything necessary for one camper to be prepared while on the campground. The cost seems like just one more expense… And what about the fundraising? School is about to start back up when camp is going on and there are other things that you could be doing with your child’s time. So why bother with church camp?
Well, yeah, it is time consuming to pack for camp. You aren’t just packing a suitcase as though you are going to stay in a hotel. Other than food, you need to pack almost as though you are going full blown camping. But would you do it without complaint to send your child to another camp? Scouts camp, sports camp, science camp…
The cost, well, this depends… What campground are you going to? There are some really big camps out there, all frills and they still offer a spiritual experience for you kids and teens. SoCal Youth church camp is pretty basic in the way of amenities, bringing the costs down to be much lower than most others. Nothing fancy, but still nice. Do the campers complain? Not a peep!
Not everyone can afford to send their kids to camp… Fundraising, if done properly, does not have to be as daunting. My personal opinion? It should begin the week that camp ends for the following year. There are many creative ways to go about this and they don’t have to be boring. One idea would be a monthly sponsorship… If you have an idea of how much it will cost to send a kid or teen to camp you can break that down in to monthly increments that if a church member felt lead, they could contribute to. Need more ideas? A quick search on Pinterest will bring more than enough options.
One idea that we used at our church this last year was a Bible Read-A Thon. Just like a regular read-a-thon, but with the Bible. (Hmm, maybe I’ll post the forms I made up for this soon…) Another was that our kids had a “concert”. The music from this service was put on a CD with other recorded music of our kids singing and sold for a donation. We had bake sales, sold candy and soda, had penny marches… And we just barely made it. Of course, we didn’t start getting serious with fundraising until April. Imagine if we had started sooner!
I know. I’m busy too. This is where you have to decide if it is a time investment that is as important to your child’s development as soccer, a trip to an amusement park, or a few days at home playing video games. Which brings us to the big question…
You probably knew by now that this was going to be my answer… Right?
There is something about getting this many kids together from different churches… (big emphasis on that last part, not just the kids from one church, but many…) Giving them a safe place to have fun, make new friends, and experience the outdoors… And then standing back and watching God bless them in a life changing way that will impact the rest of their lives. With no where to be the next day and no responsibilities to go home to each night, kids let all their worship out in chapel. Yes. Church camp is definitely worth it.
How can that be? How can I have suggestions to make it better and still say it is worth it?
Well, sit down and take a deep breath before you read this… My opinions of what would make it better have a whole lot more to do with those of us sending our kids up there, not those running the camp.
I know. Ouch. It is our fault that our kids are not getting more out of camp…
I know, you’re sick of hearing what I have to say by now… But hear me out. Please.
Imagine my excitement when it worked out that Sherry, along with her Mom, daughter, and friend, would be visiting Southern California… I rarely get to see her and she is one of my rocks. I mentioned in the first post that Sherry and I have a history at camp. That her parents were our District Children’s Leaders for most of my childhood… That our Grandparents worked together as pastors in the same district for many years, forging a close friendship, and working hard to build up our campground and attend camp with their churches.
So imagine how much more excited I was when I told Sherry that I wouldn’t be home to see her because I would be at Junior High Camp and she basically said, “Even better! We’ll come up there!” And they did! At the time I didn’t think of the timing being more perfect other than the memories we all shared there. (And believe me, hugging Sherry’s neck in the quad, worshiping with her in morning chapel, and visiting over a Bethel Burger was all fabulous.)
But God had a plan… Their visit wasn’t a fluke. It probably sounds to you as though it worked out almost like a cheesy movie, but in reality it packed a punch! Sherry’s Mom, Debbie, poured in to some of us while there. She reminded me of some of the original vision for the camp and told me some things I did not know. For example: Did you know that 80% of missionaries receive their calling to the mission field while at church camps? That’s a HUGE number!
Many of us adults that were in attendance at camp then got to talking… Those of us that had attended camps had received part or all of our calling while at camp!
Some of us that had backslid later in our teens or as adults recalled times while away from God that we were in a dire place and remembered a moment from camp. Whether it was time in the altar, a conversation with a counselor, a song sung in chapel, or a sermon, those memories started flooding back and we began to reach out to God and make our way back to Him.
When I was a camper we had a phrase, “Take the mountain home with you.” Take it to school. Take it with you wherever you go. Don’t ever let it go. Never lose what God gave you on the mountain. I promise you, the kids that go to church camp take that mountain home with them.
Between Sis. Debbie and a few other “camp veterans” in attendance, I realized how important return volunteers are. Many of these workers were people that had been working at camp when I was a camper. Sis. Ross had been there when I was a little girl. I remembered her praying with me in chapel and doing bed checks at lights out. This year, she was still there working hard along with others, showing us “newbies” the ropes. I gleaned so much from their knowledge and experience!
Some people are called to work at church camp every year. Are you one of them? You don’t know until you pray about it and try it one year. You may be hooked! I will say this, I get why my Grandpa loved it so much now. Whenever the Lord allows, I will be at camp working in one way or another.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Can you even imagine what was going through Joseph’s mind and heart when he found out that Mary was expecting? What about when he realized that the baby she was carrying in her womb was the Son of God?
He had to be terrified, and that is confirmed by the angel coming to him to say “do not be afraid”.
Often, when God calls us to do something, we can become afraid as well. While what we are doing may never compare to marrying a woman who others believe to have done something she did not do and raising The Savior of the world from an infant into a man, it can still leave us feeling overwhelmed and scared. We forget what we know to be true: that God has it all under control. We stress over things like logistics, money, what others may think, and more.
But what we need to remember is what Joseph is proof of: If it is the will of God, and we stay on His course, everything will work out.
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The second that we let our flesh try to detour His plans, by negotiating our ideas in, that is the very moment that things start to go wrong. What if Joseph had said, “I will marry her, but we will not keep the child.” I doubt that any of our lives would be where they are today.
It is because Joseph did as he was instructed without fear that Jesus was able to thrive, grow, and eventually save the world. He trusted God and stuck to the plan. When God calls you, remember Joseph and do not be afraid.
Most ministries, testimonies, blogs, etc. come from someone’s pain and hurt. Some pain is physical, others emotional and spiritual. Though not all of my pain comes from the same place, the pain I am going to share with you today is spiritual and emotional. I know that this is petty to most folks, because it’s not your battle. It’s mine and I’ve tried to lay it all down. It is a very real pain that cuts to the heart.
I have always had a calling to sing. From the time I was a little girl, my heart’s desire has always been to sing for Christ. That is where my heart is. No, I don’t have the worlds greatest voice, but God has flowed His anointing down through generations in my family. A mantel that has been passed. Satan doesn’t like the kind of anointing that touches hearts. He doesn’t like any kind of anointing, so he tries to shut it down any way that he can. He will use anyone that will allow him to do his dirty work. Sometimes, they don’t even realize it.
To get to where my pain comes from, I have carried with me for years a desire to sing for Christ, whether it would be in alter service, a choir, wherever God would have me to. I choose NOT to sing worldly songs in the public eye because I feel like that would hurt my witness. What hurts is that I have a little sister, that is a Godly, praying woman, and she gets to do most of everything that my heart had desired to do. She taught herself to play piano so that she can sing what she wants. She has access to other musicians to help play for her. Sings in the choir and leads the youth choir in their worship team.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my sister dearly. She is my best friend and I’m glad that she is allowing God to use her in many areas of her life. There is this part in my heart that says, “Why God? This is not fair. You said that if I put You first, that You would give me the desires of my heart.” But if not her, it would be someone else.
I try not to let my pain manifest if I can help it. Every now and then, there is a little something that will trigger it, and I have to push it away to the best of my ability. It heals over and starts to fester up again, never really scarring over.
I feel as if I’m here with my hand raised, screaming, “Here I am God! Over here! Here I am. Use me!” I do have a servant’s heart and I do serve in many areas with the public. I’ll continue to do what He wants me to do. My main desire is to be in His will and not in His way and to lead others to Him. That is what our goal should be in the long run.
Ministry can be a trying thing. There are many calllings that can be placed on ones life. All are called but few are chosen. God has a certain purpose for each person’s life and it’s up to us whether we allow Him to use us. Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean that you are called to do it. Ever heard the expression, “Momma called and Daddy sent”?
When you try to minister in an area that God never meant for you, things are not going to flow or fall in place. It’s kinda like a fat guy in a little coat. It doesn’t “fit” him because it wasn’t made for him. This can also cause confusion, which is not a Godly thing.
When you definitely know what God has called you to do, do it with all of your heart. Let God do the leading and ask Him to hide you behind the cross, so that people only see Him in you.
Don’t be a fat guy in a little coat. Your ministry will be a perfect fit!
Let’s face it, not everyone is called to sing in front of a crowd. I’m certainly not. If I could sing like Karen, I would be SO happy.
Does this mean I shouldn’t try? No.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of people out there that could use a lot of practice but sing it out anyways… hurting the ears of everyone in a 10 block radius. (I reach about a good 5 blocks, so I figure with practice I’ll hit 4, and not hurt too many.)
I used to sing. Quite a bit, actually. Mostly in church. But in my teens, I quit. Why? Because 1 person told me I was horrible at it. People would ask me, “Angie, why don’t you sing? What about that (insert one of the titles of the songs I sang here) song you sang? Wish I could hear it again…” And I would reply, “No, I can’t sing. I’m not any good.”
I later grew up and realized I should have never listened that that 1 (ONE!) person. They were just mean for who knows what reason. Now? I’ve nearly lost the talent I once had… and may never gain it all back. With God, I know I can get back in the groove of it though… with lots of practice… In fact, I was recently asked to sing, and you know what? I’m going to do it.
What about you? Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t sing, figuratively? Maybe it was another talent that you used for God but you had 1 person tell you that you were not good at it, or that you could never do it in the first place. Did you find your spirit broken, hurt, and unable to attain the confidence needed to do what God asked of you?
I’m encouraging you today to get back on the horse you were violently knocked off of. It’ll be a slow start, but get back in there. You’ll feel better, and most importantly God will be pleased. Do what it was God called you to do, and never listen to anyone but him. You might just be surprised!
In the mean time, I’ll be practicing my singing & piano playing… So those of you in a 10 block radius, stock up on ear plugs…