Church camp mathematics
By: Janelle Keith
I think I was about five when I had my first church camp encounter. My mom worked in the kitchen as was part of the food crew, my dad was a counselor and he ran the canteen. The canteen was the hot spot for making new relationships. It was an oasis of the popular and the dreamy. A snack king’s wish, yes, but the place to wait for what the summer had to offer in the way of new and attractive campers.
I was young at the time but there are so many memories that were born from those days at church camp in the summer. So many new things.
Year after year, I grew to be one of the older campers, and then evolved into a church camp leader. I remember climbing up on the bunk beds like a monkey and giggling until all hours of the night, and waking the exasperated camp counselors. The summer heat drove us to the swimming area. Campers would make fun summer memories and cling on to dear life onto that really old rope swing that looked like it would snap any moment. Each and every year there was a new patch of poison ivy to watch out for. And there were those years when I woke up in the middle of the night, exasperated from the campers pranks too.
Each year as a camper and a leader, there were some things that never changed about church camp. Every year my little child-like faith was renewed. It was church camp in the summer. A retreat from the normal meeting God experience. Something new happened every summer.
There’s something about meeting our Creator in the wild that stirs the wild on the inside.
A stirring your soul. Anew. A new stirring..a deeper new stirring.
I love church camp especially when cabin bunks are full of young and eager students who want to be broken before a Holy God. There was many a warm evening when the Word of God was shared, there were some sweetly broken souls given over to surrender. Faith’s transaction melting the strongholds of a tightly knotted spirit. Gripping grace, relinquishing chaos. Changing to new.
Near-to-God experiences, authentic and real, organic faith.
It was in those days that God birthed a passion to record thoughts, to keep a collection of verses, to write reflections, and wanderings through His heart. He taught me how to sit still and listen, in the quiet. In the secret place, that stilled in the wildest parts of my heart. The place far from my problems, far from the winds of the world, the words that hurt, where the quiet had no borders and where my heart would dream. I walked away from those summers feeling that something new had begun.
I have to write those things down. Because it all adds up in my heart. Organic faith written. Habakkuk 2:2 “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets….” Grace embracing second chances, God making His truth plain. Simple quiet moments, simple camp mathematics.
Grace filling in the new gaps, in the new secret gardens of stillness. The sound of the Lord invited. Memories of change, where discipleship is exchanged for chaos, in the middle of summer camp.
When we subtract the distractions of the world, something new is added to our spirits to come away from our God encounters that add up to a holy mathematics of life application truth, that touches a new part of our obedience. Our souls are refreshed in the time away when we seek a fresh and a newness that only comes from God wreaking havoc with our stale passion.
Church camp mathematics = prayer + God’s word =revival.
What was one of your favorite church camp memories?