Memories of childhood summers warm my heart. Sights, sounds and smells range from picking shells along Galveston’s shoreline, getting carried away in the “Lazy River” at Wet ‘N Wild, and venturing off to Glenrose, TX, for church camp. Yep, that pretty much sums up my summers as a child.
There’s a time in every kid’s life where they have to choose between church camp or chores. I chose wisely. For one week every summer, I didn’t have to fold clothes or empty the dishwasher; instead, I got to hang out with my friends at church camp and eat as much cereal as I wanted. (They served eggs and bacon for breakfast but I gorged on those pre-packaged cereal bowls every morning!)
The first day of church camp always brought a mix of emotions for kids and parents, alike. Suitcases and pillows formed piles in front of the buses that lined up in the church parking lot. Kids were jabbering with excitement over the loud diesel engines. Moms and dads waved in the distance with tears in their eyes.
Off we went. “The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round.”
The week always included a slew of outdoor activities, usually competitive, and rarely was I on the winning team. But I didn’t care. I was happy to be among friends. We played water basketball, water balloon volleyball, flag football….
All the games and activities called for times of rest. Times to be still. The teachers, staff and volunteers encouraged all of us to have a “Quiet Time” for an hour every day. We would split up and meet with God one-on-one. I would either walk to the overlook–a deck overlooking the most beautiful manicured pasture I’d ever seen–or I’d find the lap of big tree and rest in its arms. Nature was my closest companion at church camp. The cool breeze off the river kissed my face and I would open my Bible to read some insightful tokens of wisdom. “Okay God, what do you want me to learn today?”
He always answered.
If time allowed, I would walk back to the cabin and join my girlfriends in a round of “Father, I Adore You.” We would sit on the floor in a large circle and sing in a cappella, embracing the song’s simple lyrics that extol a triune God. “Jesus, I adore You…Spirit, I adore You….”
Now, I can’t sing. Really. I lip sync “Happy Birthday” at social gatherings. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “God doesn’t care what you sound like,” but really, I dread singing. Except at church camp. With those girls. And that song. My voice would get lost in harmonious accord and the fear of sounding bad went with it. Lost. When you’re lost in the presence of the Lord nothing else matters.
One of my favorite parts about church camp were Affirmations. Every child was assigned an envelope with his or her name on it that hung on a large wall in the worship center. Throughout the week, friends would write an affirmation and slip it in your envelope. What fun to read encouraging words and Bible verses from your friends on the last day of camp! Every kid clutched their envelope on the bus ride home trying to keep the colorful notes of affirmations from spilling out.
This June, July and August, we are holding two Bible camps in Zambia called Camp Hope and I know the kids are looking forward to it. (I think I can feel their excitement all the way here in the US!) I know they’re excited because I’ve been there. Church camps were a huge part of my childhood summers.
Please help us send as many kids as possible to Camp Hope. It’s only $35 to send one child. They receive a Camp Hope T-shirt, two nutritious meals a day and most importantly, they learn about the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
– Britney Mott, Director of Communications