Reflections on camp

In case you are not one for looking over the comments in someone else’s blog, I want to share a comment made on my last post about our service at Upper Peninsula Bible Camp.

Hey, I just stumbled upon your BLOG and wanted to say thanks for wanting to be a great male role model for the young men attending UPBC. I don't know which session you will be at, but my son (he's 12) is attending boy's camp for his second year in a couple of weeks and I am excited about the opportunity for him to interact with Godly men.

I am in prayer for you as well as the other men and women who are giving their talent as leaders and speakers to the boys (and girls) at camp.

If you are a regular attendee of UPBC, you might know my pastor and friend, Bruce Black. He and his family have been a blessing to me and my family for the last several years, and I know they are very involved in UPBC as well. If you see him, tell him the Kirby's said "hi!"

God will surely bless your time at UPBC - His word never returns void. Keep plugging along, and I will definitely check your BLOG now and then to see how school's going! God bless!!

I do not know Mr. (or Mrs.?) Kirby, and I actually spoke at JV camp rather than boys camp. Even so, this person cannot know how extremely encouraging their comment was. Note their healthy expectations for the program staff; to be good role models, especially for those of their gender- to interact with kids in a way that displays godliness- and to proclaim God’s word to the campers even when it seems to have no immediate return. It is a wonderful thing to encourage these expectations in camp staff!

I think this forms a great backdrop for a quick review of my time at camp. Here are a few of the larger themes and issues that we learned from.

First, Samantha had a tough cabin. The oldest kids are always hard, and she counseled a large cabin of the oldest girls in camp. In case any campers read this I’ll try to be careful about specifics, but suffice to say that it was a stretching and draining week for her. I can’t thank God enough that she remained tough about it, and is still willing to do camp ministry in various forms in the future. She is a trooper.

Second, I think I struggled as a speaker, but I was thankful for clarity (which was my chief request of God regarding my sermons). I’m not very good at drawing kids in, and I have a bad habit of using terms they do not understand. Still, the gospel was clearly presented every day, and I think the separate paths of the world and of the true Christian were made clear. As Mr./Mrs. Kirby rightly pointed out, the key is that clear proclamation of God’s word is of higher importance than entertainment because it is GOD who works through the Word, not man.

Third, I was reminded how I love and appreciate camp and the people who keep it running. Though I had been gone two years, my friends of every age from 4 to 80 welcomed us with open arms and hearts. They helped me with the office printer and copier (I HATE technology), chatted with me, teased me about my sorry fashion skills, played Ultimate Frisbee with me, and argued with me about modernism vs. postmodernism (well, that one was primarily Grace).

Fourth, I was so impressed by my family. I spoke, and my wife (Samantha), sister (Bethany), brother-in-law (Aaron), and brother (Peter) all counseled! They were terrific. Also, my other brother (David) and sister did a mission trip to the area the week before, and Peter is staying at camp on summer staff. What a crew!

Finally, I was struck once again by the amazing things God can do in a short period of time. In two simple weeks, all kinds of spiritual progress happened in the lives of campers, in the lives of my summer staff buddies, and in the lives of the program staff. Truly camp is a special form of para-church ministry, with unique avenues to share the gospel that no single church could accomplish.

Thanks to all my UPBC friends! Samantha and I look forward to however we can stay involved in the future.

p.s. Mr./Mrs. Kirby should know that I LOVE Bruce Black. He has been a mentor and friend to me for years, and he is continuing to do terrific ministry at UPBC by speaking, acting as president of the trustees, and driving the bus. Men and women of God like Bruce and others are what make a camp like UPBC work.