Saturday, June 12, 2010

Forest Home Summer Camp Reflections

I've led a junior high summer camp for the past three years. We get about 16 different churches from all over Arizona to partner in creating our own camp. We do all the programming and planning, creating a camp unique to our values and our contexts. It's a powerful vision, to do together what we could never do alone.

The third year of camp is over. I'm totally spent. But it's been the best year of summer camp thus far. Here's why:

Ron Merrell. Our camp speaker took us through the entire book of Haggai through the week. This guy rocks at communicating, has a pastoral heart, and has the perfect balance between humor and seriousness. He communicated the heart of the Gospel in every single talk. No emotional manipulation or crazy uber-sweaty "I have to be loud and ridiculous to keep your attention!" communicating here. Ron was humble, clear, and continually pointing students to the kingdom of God.

CJ Bergmen. Our worship leader also has a pastoral heart; he's the worship pastor from one of the churches at camp. Again, the perfect balance of high-energy and worshipful depth. There were moments when every student in the room was screaming at the top of their lungs to Jesus, and moments where there was complete silence as students participated in communion with a holy respect. The whole week was devoted to worshiping Jesus, not CJ. We all saw a little picture of heaven this week as we worshiped together.

Forest Home. From the natural beauty of the California mountains to the professional and friendly staff, this camp rocked. It's our first time at Forest Home and they handled the transition well as we all experimented with some new ideas for a junior high summer camp. One of their staff told me on the final day that their staff prayed every morning for our group. It almost brought me to tears.

Youth pastors. When I inherited this camp three years ago, nearly every detail and responsibility was laid on my shoulders. Over the three years, I've developed friendships and connections with the pastors from these 16 churches. We've now created a team of pastors all leading out of their individual gifts and passions. I don't do it all any more. These are leaders passionate about Jesus and students who want to create the best camp environment possible. I seriously love these guys, this community of youth pastors that God has formed. We do together what we could never do alone.

My youth staff. Because I get to wear both the "RMCC junior high pastor" hat and the "camp director" hat, there were plenty of times where I couldn't be with my volunteer leaders and interns. I was never worried. These are some of the best leaders I've ever had. They "get" ministry. They were intentional with spending time with their cabin, humble in their service, and eager to point students to Jesus. More than that, they love each other. Watching them laugh together, pray for each other, and hearing their passion for students, I couldn't be more proud.

Jesus. In all of the details for camp, it was an important truth to remember that Jesus is in control of spiritual transformation. We can foster an environment for that to happen, and He uses us in the process, but we can't force repentance. We can't change hearts. We can't make students follow Jesus. Only He can. And He did. There are numerous students--and adults--who are radically different people after one week because of what Jesus did. That's why we do camp in the first place--to see Jesus change people's lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment