Today I walked into Kiker, the main gathering building at Bridgeport Camp & Conference Center, and, for the first time this year, had the moment that said, “Wow! I’m at camp…” The room was full of bodies – short, tall, male, female, younger, older. It’s an amazing moment when you realize all of these youth and adults have decided to spend a week at church camp. Sure, there’s going to be fun, but there’s also going to be invitations to deepen faith, recommit to the way of a disciple, and consider what might be risked to respond to God.
That’s our theme this year – Risk the Response. I’m excited. Last night we met with senior counselors (SCs) and junior counselors (JCs) and I was so encouraged to see their leadership and faithfulness in offering their time and talent to serve in this way. It’s good news in a world that increasingly presses us to do otherwise. Setting aside a week – away from televisions, computers, and the usual routine – is a huge deal. To offer to lead youth, whether they are your children, your church members, or your peers, is exceptional.
I’m so glad to be here, although my heart broke a little on leaving my family for a week. But as I crested the rise on the little FM to see the lake sparkling in the sunlight and camp spread out like a playground for the faithful, I felt ready for a week of camp. Camp is an amazing ministry. It’s more than playing games or swimming or worship. It’s set aside time, so I guess, in a way, it’s sabbath. It’s set aside time to draw closer to each other and to God. And it’s a thing we’re reluctant to do most of the time, in the “real world.”
But somehow, this feels more real. It feels more solid, more grounded, more tapped into the great fount of creation. So even though I’ll miss lots of sleep as I solve challenges in my work as a director and I miss my family something terrible and one of my co-directors became my hero by killing at least 4 monsterous bugs in my room before bedtime last night, I am deeply glad and grateful to be at camp.