Showing posts with label camp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camp. Show all posts

why I love camp the most...

Bottom line of why I love camp: there are few other places in the whole wide world where you get a kids undivided attention. When they are at camp, camp is their world and their life. Computer games don't come along, cell phones shouldn't come (though you'd be surprised how many are still snuck in!), televisions are no where to be found, and almost everything we do is outside.

I believe God made us to love his creation, and feel closest to him when we enjoy his imagination while laying the foundations of the world. Kids start thinking bigger thoughts, they start dreaming bigger, they start wondering if maybe this is not by accident, but perhaps by some glorious God intended his kids to stand in awe of his world, and intended us to care for one another while living in community, and intended for us to learn how to treat each person with kindness and sincerity.

Camp is where faith in Jesus is passed on. I believe this so strongly. Especially when Sunday school is just an hour a's worth it, and it's completely valuable. But it's also hard getting to deep conversation points in just sixty minutes. I know this after teaching Sunday school myself for seven years. You can get there, but those moments are trickier to unveil. But at camp, it seems like every night when the lights go out, a campers heart stands wide open and they start wondering about their place in God's whole big picture.

I've got enough friends right now that have turned away from faith in Jesus Christ that I am beginning to worry about my peers and what this all means a few decades from now. And the truth is, "turned away" is even too strong of a phrase. They're really just indifferent, not particularly interested and in no way committed to a faith in Jesus Christ. That's what worries me. But what I see every day at summer camp gives me so much hope. I see our counselors alive and excited and I see campers joy filled and full of wonder. And it's all surrounding God having sent his son, Jesus. We talk about Jesus taking away the sins of the world, and we talk about Jesus calling us to preach his good news all over the world, and we talk about loving our neighbor as ourselves. And there is a freedom and happiness and life that permeates camp that lets everyone know in the deepest part of their hearts...this is all true.

So get your kiddos to camp! Sign up for a family camp. I don't care what denomination or camp you choose, do your homework and make sure other parents give it thumbs up. And then send them. Because God changes lives at camp.

but the thing is...

I wrote yesterday about my terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad experience at summer camp. But the thing is, if camp is done right, camp should NEVER be an unsafe place for misfits. It should be the one place on earth where freedom is found. Free to be silly, quirky, odd and funny.

When I worked out at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp after my freshman year of college, I remember standing in awe of all of the costume changes we had during the day. We'd dress up for skits and special carnivals. But we also dressed up for theme meals and random announcements. I journaled about how one day I changed clothes six different times.

This is what I love about camp in its purest form. There is a freedom to be dorky like no other place in the world. It's all in the name of fun and for some reason, camp is still a place where this sort of odd behavior is still accepted and appreciated. Just see what I mean...

confession: I hated kids camp.

I hated my first summer of kids camp. Hated it. Homesick, sad and lonesome. Suffered through the days and hoped to never go back.

Honestly, I never stop thinking about that 5th-grade-Becca camper when I am training my summer staff. And I never stop thinking about her all summer long when I see the misfits trying to work their way into their group of peers.

My trouble was that I was so dang excited to take the swim test. I had just completed swimming lessons a few weeks before and had mastered my underwater breathing and got a star next to the front crawl portion of my swim test. So when it came time to swim around the swimming area, I was ready to show the world my new skills.

Unfortunately, it was a wavy day. And as I turned to make my next long swim around the deep end, I turned my neck up to get my gulp of air and instead gulped a wave. They swam me over to the floating raft where I choked on the lake for a while.

All of this was deflating enough. Remember, I had skills I was going to show the world. But to make it truly worse, I was given a scarlet letter in the form of a purple wrist band that signified to all at camp, "this girl can't swim."

Horrible! I still ache for that fifth grade girl. I had plenty of friends there that week, but my confidence was shot and all I wanted to do was find my mom and tell her the whole horrible story.

My sister was there that week as a counselor in training, and she kept encouraging me to retake the test, because she knew I could swim, and just not do the fancy breathing. But I was too embarrassed. To show up for the retake test might be more humiliating than wearing a bright purple, inch thick bracelet all week long.

My counselors that week were mediocre at best, and I remember one discussion where they announced that we couldn't canoe to the picnic area across the lake because "not all of us had passed the swim test." But then they found a lifeguard who could go along, as long as she was in my canoe.

I think about those counselors, too, when I'm training my summer staff. It's not okay to be mediocre. It's not okay to be that oblivious to the pain one of your campers is suffering through.

So that's my job now: to train our staff to find these suffering souls and to love on them! To make sure that camp might just be the one place where they actually fit in and feel gifted and empowered and safe.

There's no real happy ending to that purple bracelet story. Maybe it built some character. I didn't go back to that camp for another four years, and only went because I had friends who begged me to join them.

I passed the swim test that time around, and it was Christmastime before I clipped that pink bracelet off my wrist.

just checking in...

Staff Training is full swing and I could not be happier. This staff is so fun. Each individual is making me so excited just to get to watch them and their gifts in action all summer long. This is a laughing staff, a thoughtful staff, a faithful staff and a bold staff. I've got a fun summer ahead of me.

I got to come home on Saturday for some time with Rory. We went out to a lake and I started a book and he finished one. Then we ran errands together and it made for a fun, normal day in the midst of a very, very full schedule each day at camp. We've got one more week ahead of us, but everyone is in good spirits and we're happily getting to know each other. Thanks for the prayers everybody!


I'm going to pause from a the "why I love camp ministry" theme for a minute, just to say that I love plain love camping. I love picnics, I love being outside and I love being close to big bodies of water.
The very, very best Harrington family vacation we ever took was living in a popup camper on The Circle Tour on Lake Superior. In a little over two weeks, we pulled our house behind our minivan, with a car top carrier loaded full of additional luggage and made one of our greatest family memories. And that's saying a lot, because we took a lot of great trips. But for some reason, all of us agree that this was a highlight of our childhood.

The picture above was taken on another trip in the Boundary Waters. I am pretty sure this was the trip we almost all died in a straight line wind thunderstorm. We had to tear down camp around 2 am and get out of dodge before trees started falling on us. I remember this night vaguely with fun and adventurous memories. My dad would probably say this is a night he recommitted his life to the Lord under the condition that we all survive.

The thing about camping trips is that good stories are easy to make. Whether everything goes according to plan, or nothing goes according to plan. It's just good to be out in God's creation, taking in fresh air, cooking over a fire, and getting up with the sun because it's just too hot to say in the tent any longer.

holy moments

This picture was taken when I worked at Mount Carmel two summers ago. We had an evening worship overlooking the lake. An artist was there and as the sermon was preached on Peter, the artist painted Jesus telling Peter to drop his net and to instead become a fisher of men.

During the worship there was one lone boat out on the lake with a solo fisherman quietly puttering around. The night was still and calm and comfortable. It was holy.

But that's the thing about camp. It lends itself to lots of holy moments.

freedom at camp

There is a freedom at camp that is like none other. When the caravan door flew open upon our arrival to Mount Carmel we were free to run around, find our cousins and revisit all of our favorite places. We were just expected to show up for meals and check in once in a while.

Of course, kids camp is a bit different! The camp I'm at now, every kid is with his or her counselor at ALL times! But even still, the freedom of being outside, the long, stretched out days and the unexpected adventures are all still the same.

The picture above is the prayer chapel on Lake Carlos at Mount Carmel. It's a tiny building that seats eight, and was always a favorite destination when we'd run around camp. The picture below is of me and my cousin Dan. I love this picture and hope to frame it soon. This chapel was good for praying in, but it also served as the most perfect location for the best barbie weddings you could ever imagine. Lots of barbies were married here, complete with toilet paper runners and Ken-pastors.

why I love camp

I know that I won't have time to blog during staff training (or if I do, it will be a complete bonus) so it is Saturday night, and I thought I would put together some posts surrounding camp and why I love it so.

I grew up going to Mount Carmel Family Bible Camp in Alexandria, Minnesota. Each year my family would go for a full seven days. Both sets of grandparents were there, along with cousins and aunts and uncles. I was certain we owned the place, just because every part of this camp was so familiar, homey and safe.

I've got memories unending of weekly water carnivals, talent shows, finding one of my grandpa's each night during canteen to buy my skittles, and late night sauna meetings that concluded in the lake. In the mornings adults would hear a speaker and have their own Bible studies while the youth were taught about Jesus by counselors who were fun-loving and easy to like.

My grandma used to say that Mount Carmel was a "little piece of heaven on earth." It felt that way. Filled with loving community, familiar friends, faithful conversations and so much joy and laughter...I always have thought this is what God intended for us all. I love camp because it truly is a place set apart. There is no other time when our family had uninterrupted family time for seven whole days, where the everyday life stresses were left back at home, and where peace and blue skied days, sunny afternoons on the beach and lots of late night popcorn and conversation are the norm.

and we're off...

Today I have 20 summer staff arriving for leadership training. Then on Wednesday, 50 more college age students will join them. All in all, we will share 12 intensive days together, building community, preparing for campers, readying our hearts for camper Bible study and all of the late night conversations and questions that so faithfully surface at camp. We will go over emergency procedures, songs, crafts, hiking trails, tips for cooking over a fire, game leadership and general tips on how to be a good counselor. We will talk about difficult campers, and how we lovingly discipline and remain in control of kids who might be a bit trickier to love for six days. We will plan skits and worships, devotions, storm procedures, improv games and walk through how to greet campers and their parents, assuring them that they have one jam-packed, super-fun week ahead. We will have swim tests, boating orientation, high ropes orientation and horse orientation. We will be very, very tired when it is all over.

I have been lining up all of our speakers and presenters, session topics and locations. And you know what? I'm feeling ready. Which is saying a whole lot. Because I am usually quite the worried and anxious woman. But it dawned on me today that this will be my fourth year leading a 12 day staff training. I led two years at Mount Carmel and this will be my second year at Carol Joy Holling.

Going through my "staff training" file, I found all sorts of agenda's, email copies and hand-written notes-to-self that say "remember for 2008..." And after going through that file, I just felt confident. It's amazing how after four years of something, you actually do start to get the hang of it! Surely there will be unexpected challenges and things that come up. But you can't prepare for all of that, except just in knowing, those challenges will come each year and I can deal.

So keep us in your prayers. I'm moving to camp on Wednesday and plan on considering this time as a 10-day trip for work. Rory will come and visit and I plan on getting away for an afternoon or two. But this way I have a bed at camp for napping and can be present for our 7:30am-10:00pm day of events.