This summer of camp our theme was Summer in 3D (Discover, Decide, Disciple) Discovering who God is, deciding to trust Him, and becoming a disciple who walks with Him daily. On the first day of the week, I asked our students which of the themes 3D’s were they personally in. Ashley, an eighth grader, shared “I’m only at the discover stage Miss”, this was helpful to know as her leader in how we continued lessons for the week and asked questions.
Fast-forward to the end of the week Ashley shared that not only was she in the discover stage but also that she was in the decision for Christ stage. Ashley was later recognized as the groups Christ-like camper of the week for her love for people and spiritual exploration and growth.
From group ice-breakers, singing worship songs, and creating our own songs to sing, this summer camp created a lot of great memories. There was a student named Jordan that was new to our program and his first couple of days he tried hard to adjust to the noise and the environment. Through group activities and especially lunch time, we were able to break ground and build our friendship.
On the last day of camp for his age group, the once standoffish everything is too loud, and I don’t want to talk Jordan made sure he gave me a big hug before he left the building. In that moment the encouraging words of our Teen Haven director played in my mind, Love Always Wins!
On the first week of camp, it was already revealed to us why this theme was so important. We had one specific student who was openly questioning her gender, questioned Christianity and even defied it, and studied and believed in ancient gods. She was a very intellectual 11-year-old girl and was not afraid to ask hard questions.
She arrived at camp with her face down in a sketch book and was prepared to leave within the first 15 minutes if she did not like it. The biggest win I saw this summer was that she came back for the rest of the week and for a second week as well! She talked with the leaders about the things she doubted and even opened up about the struggles in her life.
Her heart seemed to soften through the relationships she made with the staff that made her feel safe to ask questions and be accepted. She even received prayer for her injured wrist. It was a huge encouragement to see the effect that godly relationships can have on a person’s willingness to see God in a different light.
Henderson is one of our Jr staff who has been a part of Link and Camp for a few years. He has been a highlight in both environments in his service and willingness. He was one of our youngest Jr staff at 14 years old. In preparation for serving this summer, Henderson expressed his weakness, strengths, and areas he would like to grow in. I will say he was spot on! His tendency of being competitive was an area he was concerned about.
He knew his emotions could easily get the best of him. Henderson’s desire was to grow was evident. During the exit interview, he was discouraged because he felt like he didn’t do so well. However, the reminder that leadership is always about being up front, most times it’s taking the initiative in the small things which he did many times. I witness Henderson gather a group of the campers as time was winding down to leave the pool back to teen haven. We were under a time crunch and there were more campers than counselors that needed to get changed so we can head out. Henderson did a great job taking initiative and guarding the privacy of the campers giving them the strategy and security to change quickly so we can be on time. Henderson showed a level of maturity that needed to be pointed out to him. I’m proud to say, Henderson, though he is one of the youngest Jr staff, has grown tremendously since the beginning of the summer. The best part about it we can see it outside of Teen Haven. It isn’t often you see a young teen keep a great attitude when it comes to putting others first.