Fabulous Week of Camp…WHY?

Saturday concluded week 1 at Midland Ministries’ SuperC Teen Camp. I once again had the privilege, responsibility, and joy of being the speaker.

I left camp a bit early yesterday so Jacob and I could drive 9 hours to my next camp (Machasay in Colorado). Spoke last night to the staff; again this morning; and tomorrow will speak for two days at their teen leadership camp.

But back to week 1.

As most know, I’ve been tasked with camp speaking for 41 summers, averaging 6 or 7 weeks each season.

So I’ve done a few…

This one was…well…dare I say it?…anointed.

If you’ve ever been to a teen camp; you know that it is usually midweek (at best) before the walls come down. Worship is stilted, interaction is almost forced, and there is a bit of wariness.

Monday evenings worship was rather typical…but starting Tuesday morning I and other staff members noticed a cohesiveness, a caring, a joy that is not typical.

I think one reason was that Jared Prindle, who used to be a youth pastor at a local church and now serves at a church near Saint Louis, brought over 30 campers and a few counselors.

They already knew each other, and yet were not clique-ish…they melded and molded with the other campers and I believe were a key factor in the week.

God’s Spirit convicted several and brought them to Christ and the gospel. Other commitments were made that prayerfully will stand the test of time.

Last Sunday night I preached at a maximum security prison located about 45 minutes from the camp. I’ve known many of the inmates who showed up for chapel for several years. I shared I’d be starting a week of camp the next morning; and they prayed for me and stated that they would gather together each morning at breakfast to pray.

Perhaps that had something to do with the week being a success? And many, many other supporters and friends of me and Midland were praying. Who knows how many grandmas, parents, and others were praying for “their” campers to be impacted by the Word of hope?

All I know is that I was blessed beyond belief to be a part of the week; and continue to pray that the campers remember, apply, and follow through with their “decisions.”

And I’d ask you to pray, also.

Here’s a pic of the group: week 1

And part of the fun of “Survivor”

survivor

And fun on the water:

blob

Summer Camp –

youth camp

I’m amazed…

Amazed I’m in the family of God, redeemed, forgiven, justified…

Amazed I get to spend time bragging on Jesus to teens…over four years of my life have been spent speaking at youth camps over the last four decades…

Camp is an amazing thing. Monday I’ll begin the first of 7 weeks of camp preaching for 2019 (5 teen, two family).

The crucial ingredient of an effective Christian camp is good, committed counselors. The best speaker with apathetic counselors makes for a horrendous camp;  an okay speaker with great counselors will work well.

Good food, good discipline, and good acoustics are key ingredients. If a worship band is used…they should be quality and interested in facilitating worship; not putting on a show.

Notice I’ve not listed “programming” yet?

Doesn’t matter what programming you have…if you don’t have a good (meaning Bible-based) speaker, good counselors, and the other things listed it doesn’t matter what kind of programming you have…

I also think camp can be a dangerous thing; if everyone is pushing for “decisions” rather than asking the Spirit of God to work in His way and His timing. I am not against altar calls; I am against “easy” altar calls. Why?

I read the Bible. And I notice that Jesus always made it easier to say “no” than “yes.”

Again…I am not diametrically opposed to “invitations,” as long as the invitee is the Spirit and not someone doing “business as usual”.

I also am leery of the “heads bowed, eyes closed” approach. I “get” it…I just can’t imagine Paul, or Peter…or Jesus…doing such a thing.

I want and I believe the Lord wants young (and old) people to stand out and stand up for Jesus and the Gospel…so why “start” them in secret??? “No one is looking around, just raise your hand if…” Please understand – I am not hammering the motives of anyone who gives invitations like this; I just question the methodology.

All too often, especially in camp situations, students are exhausted, emotionally drained, and a well-meaning but careless speaker can provoke “decisions” born of peer pressure, tiredness, and emotion rather than birthed by conviction and drawing of the Spirit of God.

So I ask prayer that I’d be bold in preaching, clear in communication, discerning in one-on-one counsel…and that the Wind of the Spirit would be pleased to change us.

Do you agree, disagree, or not understand my observations of camp ministry? I ask you to make the time to “comment” so we can, together, learn from each other.

The Obligatory Campfire

This summer begins my 39th summer of camp speaking. WHAT? Yeah, almost four decades.

I’m not a numbers guy, so I have no idea how many different camps I’ve had the joy of speaking at, nor how many were in the collective audiences.

I do feel that every camp had one “event” in common.

The end-of-week campfire. Teens, counselors, staff gathered around a bonfire; singing; and giving all an opportunity to share.

Done well, it is a good thing. Done poorly (however unintentionally), it becomes an “I can top that” thing or a place of hurt, as in every one applauds every speaker…except one.

One of my favorite movies is “Glory.” If you’ve not seen it, do so. It’s historically pretty accurate, features some of my favorite actors (to include number one, Denzel), and is simply well done.

It features a campfire.

The scene is one of my all time favorites, with one of my all time favorite lines…I shared the line with about 80 guys at Crossroads Correctional a couple days ago; where there has been some tough stuff happen and, as a maximum-security prison, is more tense than usual. The line? “Let my people know that I went down, standing up.”

Enjoy:

>Snaps from Penn York

>A sampling from the week just ended; Corning (NY) Area Bible Club meeting at Penn York Camp in Ulysses, PA:

Due to weather had only one outdoor meeting (other than obligatory campfire), but it was great:

Taylor is Ron Snavely’s daughter…when I first moved to Family Life in 1987 Ron was on staff…and she had yet to be born…

Volunteer adults make camp happen:

>SNAPS FROM KOREA KAMP

>One evening at Korean Kamp we had “Viking Nite”…all tables removed, plastic placed, 1300 wings etc…no silverware…it was rather fun:

The annual “Big War” featured hundreds of water balloons, dozens of cans of shaving cream, and “yuck”

But all that “stuff” is to set the stage and provide a venue for the Lord to work, such as pictured here: