Well, greetings to all. It seems two whole months have slipped by since my return from a month in Alaska. I wrote and printed letters to many people who were my supporters and then stumbled in all sorts of ways to not get all of them sent out. That makes it look like I promised a wrap-up and failed. That also makes it look like I didn’t care about your support in the end. Life has been busy in so many varied and exciting ways since returning and I apologize for my failure to make good on my promise…so far. Here is my wrap-up:
Greetings! I hope you have enjoyed your summer season of 2012! I am writing to report back to you about my trip to Willow, Alaska, where seven Washburn University colleagues and I served at North Star Bible Camp. We had a wonderful time working with campers, experiencing God’s creation, and spreading the Good News.
First, I want to thank you for your support in prayer and/or finance. Our team was very blessed in focus, unity, health, and friendships. Though we were challenged at times, I feel camp was prepared and bolstered by ample prayer and God’s work. We were also blessed to be fully funded, removing stress and distractions from our mission at camp. Thank you so much for what you contributed to make this a great camp!
Our experience began with three days of training and camp preparation. Our focus was on sharing the Gospel in three parts: mankind’s individual sin (Romans 3:23), Jesus’ loving sacrifice in our place for our sin (Romans 5:8), and the eternally saving response of faith in Jesus (John 1:12). This gave us a very simple framework for talking with kids of varying ages. During training we also got accustomed to camp life, routines, and rules and worked on various projects. I was delegated to bike repair and music preparations. Group meals and evening games built team unity for the weeks to come.
A typical day consisted of a staff prayer meeting, cabin cleanup (for both cleanliness and good-hearted competition!), breakfast, camper devotion time, chapel (worship and message), games, activities, lunch, verse memorization, free time, cabin discussion time, dinner, chapel again, evening games, snacks, and bedtime devotions. The weather was generally cloudy and occasionally rainy – though we had a few sunny days that rivaled a calm and clear 70 degrees anywhere!
There were three weeks of camp, beginning with high school. We had an exceptionally low camper to counselor ratio for this week with five campers and three counselors per cabin. This allowed for lots of flexibility to have one-on-one conversations and time for rest. My five high school campers were a mix of ages and maturity and one of them actually made a decision to accept and follow Jesus during his time at camp! The other campers were all open and curious about learning more about God, but a couple headed back home to very discouraging environments.
For middle school week I was the camp photographer. This was a nice break, but I missed out on the unique energy and malleability of this age group. As a staff worker, we had our own devotions and verse memorization, so in addition to following camper activities I also learned about the early Christian church (Acts, chapters 1-8) and became more focused on honoring God daily through studying Ephesians Chapter 5. You can see the media slideshow and other photos on North Star’s Facebook page (bottom).
Elementary week was our final camp. In just the first night these campers were more fun and more challenging than both prior camps combined. We also had more campers. I was surprised that all of my campers already believed in Jesus. However, a couple of them did not behave as though God’s grace was active in their lives through their arguing and competitiveness. Granted, they were young and we did our best to model Christ-like actions while keeping up the light-hearted activities. Thankfully, conflicts were resolved and all the kids were able to benefit from a full week of God’s teaching. These younger kids definitely stole our hearts!
Camp taught me to build relationships with peers and students with the purest intentions of trust, respect, and service. I gained experience and confidence in sharing or reviewing Gospel with everyone – seekers, stumblers, and “souled out” followers.
Beginning each day with staff prayer was energizing and encouraging because we helped each other focus on God’s mission for every believer (Matthew 28:18-20). We grew very close and I was truly sad to leave. I am inspired to maintain my personal relationship with God, be more intentional in sharing the Gospel in Topeka, and now desire closer relationships with fellow believers.
Thank you again and all glory to God for His work in the lives of the campers and staff!
In Christ Alone,
Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11