Midwest Bible Camp || Oh my heart. This place. THIS. PLACE. Every year I’m convinced that it takes a bigger chunk of my heart. I grew up spending several weeks each summer in these cabins. Running around on the green grass. Sitting around the campfire each night. Laying on my back, on the hills looking up at all the stars that weren’t being out-shined by city lights. Pure nature. Only sounds of frogs, crickets and other woodsy things. No cars, no phones, no t.v. Just the wind, dirt, you & God.
This place and the people involved poured so much into me and my life, I can’t even describe to you the things I’ve experienced and learned during my summers there. I’m so ecstatic that I now get to pour myself into the kids and give back by volunteering a few weeks out of my summer to be a part of this place that means so much to me.
But let me tell you about this year: In January, I was almost positive I wouldn’t be returning to camp this year. I thought I would be in a different state and I would be too busy living the “summer college” life that I wouldn’t be able to spare a week of my time. I had the thought “Maybe I’m growing out of camp, maybe it’s time for me to do something different with my summer.” But as my plans changed, I had this gut feeling that I needed to be at camp this year. Something inside me (probably God) was saying “Look you need this. You need to do this.” So I went with it. I agreed to do one week, and then before I knew it I had agreed to do two weeks. Let me tell you something. I do not regret it. I was reluctant to do two weeks. I didn’t want to take that much time off of work, I didn’t want to be in the woods that long. But they needed counselors, and I was available. So I said yes. At first, I wasn’t all that excited, but as the emails and Facebook messages were being sent out, and everyone in the “camp community” started talking to each other about spending a week together, my attitude changed. “Why wouldn’t I be excited about this? I love that place. I grew up there. Last year was amazing. I should be excited!” So I allowed myself to get excited. And those two weeks ended up being two of the best camp weeks I’ve ever experienced.
I wish I could put into adequate words exactly what I experienced this year at Senior week. But one thing that everyone who experiences camp agrees on is that it’s the hardest thing to explain to people who didn’t experience it. I can’t put into words the feeling I get when I’m out there. But camp has a feeling. Time seems to stop, nothing matters but the moments and the people inside the gate. We all have this common goal to experience and learn about God, to heal, to worship, to grow. Words can’t describe what happens, but God just moves in powerful ways. He changes lives out there.
Intermediate week had a totally different vibe for me this year. I don’t know what it was, but I miss that week more than I ever have before in my years of counseling. The kids just have my heart. Their love for life and joy brought a smile to my face and laughter to my lungs every day. They might be entering into the “awkward years,” but I still love them. I am honestly so glad I agreed to be at that week. I didn’t want to at first. I honestly didn’t. But I needed that week just as much as Senior week. My sister wrote a great post about camp, and in it she said:
“Sometimes God calls you somewhere and you’re reluctant about it. Say yes. Say yes because there is a reason why you need to be there. For other people, for the kids, for yourself––there’s a reason.”
I can’t put it into better words than that.
I let myself go those two weeks at camp. I didn’t use my phone at all the first week, and barely the second. It felt good to not rely on it. Because I was able to focus on the kids, the week, and myself. Camp has such special memories and moments, ones I’ve never forgotten, and ones I never will forget. And I hope, oh I hope, that you have memories and experiences like camp, too. Because they mean the world.