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.

5 Ways Camp Changes the World

5 Ways Camp Changes the World

Now that it’s March and the weather is getting warmer (currently in my hopes and dreams since it was 16F when I walked to work this morning, but I’m trusting it will in actual life too), my thoughts shift more and more to the summer.

I read this blog post this morning. Look at the link at the top. I wholeheartedly agree with every point the author made. I thought I would add my own comments, from a Camp Gilgal perspective to his 5 points.

#4 We are so busy, it’s hard to create space to reflect. Whether it’s TAWG with Adventure Camp, or a few moments after campfire to linger before Lights Out, there’s time.

#2 Camp opens opportunities for young people to learn leadership skills they may have to wait years before having access to in the more adult world of jobs and internships. What’s wrong with learning great skills while having fun? Isn’t that what most of want anyways? (I say most because I recognize that there are some very serious people out there).

#3 I have had these experiences ONLY at Camp Gilgal: high ropes course, multi-day canoe trip, overnight backpacking trip, made mosaics, made my own belt, built a clock, made a challah plate, played Mission Impossible, played Search and Soak, played Big Ball, played Wells Fargo, had a screaming competition, made mud angels, sat in silence with 30 others staring at the stars… If I were to list the activities I’ve primarily experienced at camp, it would be endless.

#1 With all those experiences, how can you not develop lifelong friendships? (Shout out to: Ben, Naomi, Josiah, Hannah, Tim!)

#5 At Camp Gilgal, I know the course of my life was forever changed. I first was aware of God reaching out and speaking to me at camp. I saw a place where God used my gifts when I began serving as a Tribe Leader. I became sensitive to the Holy Spirit moving in my heart, and enabling me to be empathetic with the campers around me. Camps empower children, teens, and young adults to work in dynamic groups together.