(Photo by Jeff Basey)
I had the opportunity last summer to work there as a counselor, and it's an experience that grew me in so many ways and brought so much joy into my life. But while there was amazing, talented, and loving people that worked there, and crazy, exciting kids that came every week, and random hilarity and adventures constantly happening, that wasn't the point of camp...Because every single person that worked there was a broken sinner, and every single kid that came there was a broken sinner. You see what that point of camp was and the thing that made it so amazing, was the simple reality that God was there, and He was present, and He moved in and He changed the hearts of people....for eternity. And honestly that was the simple prayer that I prayed all leading up to camp, and throughout my time there, "God be HERE, and let this be a summer the echos for ETERNITY!"
So I was reading through all of the stuff I wrote while I was at camp and wanted to share some of it with you, they are in no particular order, I know some of them are long, but they were my prayers and conversations with God this summer so bare with me! (keep in mind I wrote most of this with kids climbing all over me, so please pardon in grammar mistakes and such)
"Fill this place Father, we need you"
"God, I can't even describe yesterday, other than that you are good and you are HERE! ...that excites me and just to see and hear each counselor praying for each other and crying out to you was simply beautiful."
God, last night listening to all of the people affirming and encouraging and building up each other for this summer, I think it is a testament to how you have, by your grace and love chosen this place to reign down your love upon us."
"You are powerful God, its crazy how I have already been able to see you working here in my life and others... we have experienced the power and love of your Spirit coming into this place and its intoxicating, God thank you, thank for the joy that you have filled this place with"
"Father help me love these kids, be with and comfort all of the homesick kids that we have in our cabin, wrap your loving arms around them and lead them, grow them in strength and constantly remind them of who you are, be real to them."
"Its the last day of this session, and my heart is smiling, God you have been so very present here, and it continues to blow my mind what happens to place and the people in that place when you are there. You have been working in the conversations that have been happening, in the devotions each night, in bible study with the other counselors, and in the closing campfire when the kids where sharing how they saw You, how they heard You, and how they experienced You! And the answers that they were sharing were real, they were honest, they were from you, God those kids encountered I real and loving Creator this week, and that is glorious."
"Each time we are cleaning cabins at the end of the week I am continually reminded that you have a plan, and that it is no accident the relationships that were formed, and the campers you brought here. let your glory be heavy in their lives, and be a tangible father to each one of them, they need you Father, we all need you Father."
"God I want this be a summer that echos for eternity! And yet I know in order for that to happen the other staff and I are going to have to die to ourselves... We are going to have to live sacrificially and be abundant in real joy and happiness and love and care and kindness, and acceptance, and grace, and energy and enthusiasm and it all has to be true and real and we cannot fake it! God it HAS to all come from YOU, because without you and your power we will do nothing of any real value this summer... but the thing that excites me so much is that you are HERE! and you are real to us and moving in our hearts, God we need you so much this summer so be with us and sustain us!"
Reading all of this led me to do some reflecting about the summer it was an incredible experience, one that pushed me to my limits, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I am so utterly thankful for that. Because what I (and I think most other people as well) didn’t realize going in was that while you will be pouring into and investing in kids lives, seeing walls broken down, their hearts being molded around Jesus, joy being a beautiful, tangible, and constant expression…that if you let God work that each one of those things would happen to you, many times over!
The more that I have reflected and prayed the more I realized how important what had happened this summer in my faith was, and how much it had impacted the faiths of those around me Because camp is a place where a person interacts and loves on people when they are both pushed to their limits, there is tears and laughter each and every day at camp, and its beautiful because God moving is there and its undeniable, so anyone who ends up there simply gets swept up in the beauty of what He is doing.
I know that all was a lot, and just a small glimpse at my heart from this summer but I do hope that it encouraged you in some way, and that it excites you how God worked there! Anyway I would like to encourage those of y'all who are in college to prayerfully consider applying to work at Camp Oak Hill this summer, it would be a great experience, tons of fun, you'll be pushed and grown in so many ways, you'll have dozens of crazy stories, and most of all you'll get to be a small part of the work God is doing and so many people's lives! But it doesn't just have to be at Camp Oak Hill, go to another camp, or on a missions trip, or on a summer project! Whatever it my be that you do, pursue something this summer that will echo for eternity, God will use you, you just have to be willing to go.
Here's one last little quote from this summer at camp, its not mine, but from a dear friend of mine.
"It brought me so much joy when you experienced God for the first time. I remember just smiling and crying with you on the stairs"
If you have any interest in applying to camp then please let me know and I can tell you more about it, or if you have any thoughts or questions about anything I said, I'd love to hear from you!
I'll leave you with one last little bit of camp, I think that its a wonderful expression of a tiny bit of the joy that was present this summer!