Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Camp Reflections

Andrew being awesome. (And Josh with Wolverine-styled hair in the background)
This picture encapsulates summer camp games
The entire crew

Things that caught my attention this year at junior high summer camp:

The beauty of the Church. We had nearly 400 people from 15 different churches gather together with only two things in common: we are all from Arizona, and we all love Jesus. We broke up the large group into 16 clusters of guys and girls, many of which were made up of different churches. The clusters participated in competitions and games throughout the week, which could have easily led to pride, anger, or division due to overly competitive spirits. Yet every church showed a deep love for one another as they cheered each other on, spent time getting to know one another, and broke down social barriers to spend time with one another. I loved spending time with the other youth pastors and church volunteers.

The value of discernment. We had a passionate camp speaker that did funny voices, told silly stories, ran around the meeting room, and sweated profusely. He clearly loves Jesus and the gospel, and our students were definitely challenged to grow in their faith. Yet he also shared some fairly extreme views about heaven, evangelism, and spirituality. I'll admit, I strongly disagreed with a good portion of his ideas. Our staff spent time sharing their own views and helping students come to grips with differing ideas within Christianity. Helping students ask the right questions in order to discern truth for themselves is far more important to me than spoon-feeding them answers. (Despite our differences, the speaker and I both have a high value of the gospel of Jesus. That guy can unite anyone.)

The importance of family. Brothers and sisters and parents all came together at camp and learned a great deal about the importance of having healthy family relationships. It was beautiful to see siblings praying for one another, reconciling their differences and realizing how deeply they actually loved one another. My good friend and fellow junior high staff, Nate, shared on the final night how important family becomes as one gets older. I completely agree. Think of how many junior high friendships survive and thrive into adulthood. Sure, some friendships last, but my siblings are the people who will be connected with me throughout my entire life. Having my wife and bro-in-law at camp was incredibly encouraging. I love doing ministry alongside my family.

God did incredible things in the lives of the students. Life transformation rocks. I'm also so proud of my staff. They are some of the most delightful, funny, and thoughtful people you'll ever meet. Our late-night trip to Denny's until 1:00 am might be my favorite part of the entire summer camp experience. It's all over for this year, but I'm already excited for the possibilities of the year to come!


  1. Joel, I have to tell you that there is something I always appreciate about your blogs. You have this gift of always seeing the good out of every situation. Sure, there may be some things that bug you, or trouble you, or upset you, but you always take the good out of the situation. From a guy who is super cynical, thanks. I appreciate it.
    Now, I have to say that I was so sad last week that I didn't get to hang with you guys last week. BUT....... Next year.... I am there!

  2. Josh, we're already looking forward to you being there! :)