Bereshit, Noach, Lech Lecha

These are the first three parashot in the cycle. These are the first three sets of scripture readings that our people read, study and seek to understand. These cover Genesis 1-17 – from the creation of the world up through the institution of the covenant of circumcision with Abraham. There’s a lot of ground that covered during these chapters (including all of the ground by water in the flood!). When we read these chapters, and understand these stories, what’s the purpose in our reading? That might seem like a strange or obvious question, but why do we read the scriptures?

Many different people will have different kinds of answers to this, but I know that for us, believers in the Messiah, the primary reason we read the scriptures is to develop a deeper faith in God.

How does reading the same stories, the same passages, year after year develop a deeper faith in God? One answer: We change from year to year, and the text doesn’t. So when we approach the scriptures, we have new eyes, ears, experiences and God speaks to us through them, and it’s different than it was last time. Through this our faith develops.

Shabbat Shalom, Camp Gilgal Family!

Twister

Teen Camp: What What!!

We made it! We’ve arrived! Teen Camp is on! The differences between Teen Camp and Junior Camp couldn’t be more obvious. We don’t need to occupy or entertain the teens, they will do that themselves. We don’t need to stop them from rough housing or running wild. For my staff, we stop giving orders, and begin conversing again.

Teen Camp is such a fun week of the year. For the staff, we can play a bit harder than we could at Junior Camp. We can engage the teens in conversations that are a bit more interesting to us. We can engage the teens in spiritual conversations with less of a lead in than with the younger campers, too. Not only that, but we can also see the oldest campers, who are connected to their faith, serving as role models for the younger, new teen campers. We can create an environment where being connected to your faith is the thing to do. It’s our hope and prayer that this will be something that’s real for the campers, a place for real spiritual growth and encountering God.

Pray with us. Pray for us.
– Twister

Deep Impact – Junior Camp 2014

Even though I’ve been doing camp for most of my life, I still forget what kind of impact it has in the lives of the people involved – both campers and staff alike. I talk about it throughout the year, but I forget what it actually looks and feels like. This year, was a year of big impact.

There were many unexpected things that took place. Two of those were the fact that all the campers learned their memory verse passage, Psalms 139:1-10, 23-24, and that all the tribes made it to the end of camp party. It didn’t look likely. But on the last day of camp, the remaining 2-3 campers plugged away hard to finish the passage. It’s so exciting to hear that many children reciting a long-ish section of God’s Word all together.

On our last night of camp, we hold a “testimony campfire,” where the campers are given the opportunity to tell each other the things God has done, or what they learned, or something they overcame. It’s the favorite part of camp for most of the staff – because we see just a glimpse of the fruit of our 2 weeks of investment, of what God has done. This year, I was surprised to hear one camper tell us something that I take completely for granted in camp. This camper reported that she was surprised that she was accepted for who she is, that the other girls in her tribe didn’t want her to be taller or shorter or funnier or more athletic or _______. Of course, people can be exclusive and mean in their peer groups, what surprised me was how meaningful it was to a young child and for her awareness to be able to identify it.

The impact of camp lasts for a long time, even if the “effects” of camp fade after a couple days or a couple weeks. The impact remains in the Kingdom of God, as campers make commitments in their relationship with God. Their lives are changed by the work God does in them.

End of Junior Camp – 1st Reflection

What a blessing! What a joy! I’m writing from the bus on the way back to NYC/NJ/DC. It’s hard to believe how full these last two weeks have been, and how quickly they went by. My deep apologies to you parents that we did not post more. It’s hard to keep up with the pace of camp.

What can I say about this session of camp? It was a small camp, only 19 campers. But I’ve learned over the years, that small camps can be some of the best. You have a flexibility with a smaller group than you do with a larger group. For example, on Canada Day (July 1st for you, my American friends), some of our neighbors set off fireworks right as the campers were getting ready for bed. They were so huge! I ran through the camp and gathered everyone to the picnic tables in the field to watch, disturbing the “getting ready for bed” routine. Everyone laid on the tables waiting…. and waiting and waiting. No more fireworks. Instead we had about 10 minutes of quiet time watching the stars altogether. It was a memorable night. I caught myself thinking, “Huh. I don’t think I would have done that with a larger camp.”

Even though we were a small group, God worked in big ways in the lives of everyone involved. I will be praying for the campers going home to keep growing in their faith, that it will become more and more their own, and that they will have the love and boldness to share their faith in the Messiah with family and friends alike.

– Twister