I believe Christian camping’s contribution to leadership around the world is significant.
I also believe that some of the best professionals, entrepreneurs, workers, givers and contributors to society can look back to attendance and service at camp as a defining factor in their younger years that influenced their growth as people and professionals.
Now I’ll admit to being biased (even after many years of formally being away from camp). I love camp. I love working with the leaders. I love the young men and women in whom I see such potential. I love teaching the scriptures. I love those one on one conversations that are so meaningful. You get the point .. biased.
The really big decisions Alice and I have made that constituted a real life change and set the tone for years forward, were all made around camp.
- Make the Lord the center of our lives and purposefully seek to serve Him (Locked this in our hearts mostly in the Lighthouse, Alpha camp @1971, Beacon Bible Camp)
- Leave our careers to move near to camp and work there as often as we could (Between 1973 and 1974 summer camping season but “really” locked in the availability attitude the summer before, again at Alpha camp.
- Leave an established business and income to assume leadership of camp (After a long walk at camp in 1988. Of course there were other events around this as well.)
- Leave camp in the hands of other leaders and begin to work with leaders through a professional coaching business. (A lot more walking around camp.)
It was years of camp that honed leadership skills, but it was those early exposures to particular camps that locked in a love for the Lord Jesus, a strong visual of what it was to see God at work and a desire to be available to the Lord in that work.Let’s review the path. Employee … Self Employed … Full Time Executive Director of camp … Self Employed again. All decisions in some way connected to “our” camp.
I had some LinkedIn back and forth with Michael Perry of SpringHill Camps in Michigan. He mentioned that today they were in the final 24 hours of camp. That’s kind of what got me reflecting on all that has happened in lives this summer.
I also had a conversation with Stefan Smith of Beacon Bible Camp in Ontario and he was mentioning the summer staff there and the how they had made experiences at camp that were informing their decision making around their future. Of the great team of workers, one he mentioned was off to med school, another pharmacy, others back to school or into the workforce for … who knows what. God has an adventure in mind for them. In response to recent schooling interview questions, one of the staff drew on her Waterfront Director experience on dealing with conflict, emergency situations and stress. Camp has prepared her … to serve us. Society. The Christian community. The world.
And these young men and women will go on to make meaningful contributions to society for the next 50 – 80 years. They will serve us in so many ways.
The other day I read an article on Florida Baptist mission camps and the long lasting good effects and ripples they had experienced going out from getting a kid to a Christian camp. This is simply more evidence of the value of this ministry’s impact on lives.
Recently Alice and I put out an invitation to what we call “our generation”, that is the generation of young men and women we served as they went through their college, university and early workforce years. We invited them to what we’re loosely calling B20A10 Weekend – Back 20 years, Ahead 10 years, so we can check in and see how they are doing after all this time. We want to tell them we love them and build something into their lives for the next part of the journey. After 20 years (more or less) they have now lived a lot of life, so it will be good to connect. We hope a LOT of them show up.
The reason I mention this is because that “generation” that we poured our lives into (via camp) now span the globe. They own, lead or manage companies, causes, projects and programs. They work and lead in corporate, small business, government, academia, nonprofit and ministry settings. Some are solopreneurs, others work with large staff. They have raised or are raising families that they have prepared to contribute and walk in relationship with the Lord.
These are men and women on the front lines of life. And I believe that camp, more specifically my/our little time at camp made a difference for so many of them. Christian camping and it’s thousands of leaders made a difference for them.
May this be a few words of encouragement for those of you who have set aside your own pursuits for a little while and poured your lives into boys and girls, young men and women, adults and families. You have made an incredible contribution. May you see much fruit from it.
And for those of you affected by camp like me … hug someone who just came back from serving at camp as soon as you can and say “Thanks.”
And lastly … as time rolls on, keep your eyes open and your antenna up for men and women of exceptional calibre and a practical, deep love for the Lord. They may be in your hospital, teaching, in public office, building a subdivision, buying another company, shuffling back and forth internationally, the captain on duty at the next fire, in the lab finding a cure, contributing to the arts or raising and building into the next generation to come … wherever, doing whatever.
But for today, they are a camper.