I spent last week at Camp Manidokan near Harper’s Ferry, Maryland; a United Methodist camp where I’ve spent at least part of the last 10 summers. It was The Best Week Ever, with a pile of volunteer leaders and over 60 Middle High students. I’ve been thinking a lot about it since I got back last weekend.
Camp has always been a special place for me, ever since my first week at camp when I was nine. This past week reinforced that feeling for me and I’ve tried to put my finger on why it is still such a special place. So in that spirit, here is ….
Everything I need to know, I learned at Summer Camp.
1. God’s creation really is amazing. We’ve kind of muddled things up, but the “amazing” is still right there.
2. You really can make friends in about 30 minutes and they really will last a long time.
3. Sharing is a really good idea. I’m not sure who thought of it first, but they were on to something.
4. Thirty plus girls in close quarters = drama about inconsequential things.
5. Thirty plus boys in close quarters = bragging about inconsequential things.
6. Even at camp, inconsequential things are still inconsequential.
7. Camp isn’t complicated. It’s just not. Kids. Adults to love them and watch over them. Silliness. Adventure. Fun. And God does the rest – and does it in a big way.
8. Life isn’t complicated. It’s just not (see number 7). We make it complicated, myself included; but it doesn’t have to be.
9. Doing something you’ve never tried before is important. Even if you blow it. There’s just something about being in an adventure, even a small one, that we need as much as we need to breathe.
10. Getting “away from it all” is a pretty big deal. Leaving behind distractions, entanglements and worries for awhile clears your head. And in the silence, God’s voice sounds a bit louder.
11. Other people are worth it. Investing yourself in other people takes time and effort. It’s inconvenient. It’s easier to justify when it’s your family: your spouse or your kids. But investing yourself in other people beyond your circle is worth it too.
12. The future is in better shape than most people think. I’ve seen it in the faces of Middle and High school students. People complain about kids all the time. They worry about what things will be like when these kids are adults. You might find some things to worry about right now, but when they get there, they’ll be ready. Remember; today they’re just kids. It’ll happen. Let them be kids first.
13. You only need a few things to do effective Youth Ministry. Beyond the necessity of being gifted and called there are only a few essentials. They are: the Bible, duct tape, newspaper, a rubber chicken, some bananas, yarn and about $500.00. [The $500 is mostly to fix stuff that you and the kids break at the church.]
14. You find treasure in hidden and unexpected places. When a beautiful singing voice comes out of a camper that you’ve been sparring with all week. When a student who wanted to go home on Monday, “comes home” to Jesus on Thursday. “There’s gold in them thar hills!” There’s just nothing better. And that’s why it’s The Best Week Ever!