I love camp. It’s kinda dirty, true… and dusty, and windy…but I love the stars at night, the faces of the kids as they try scary things for the first time and succeed. I love the sound of encouragement, the flashes of insight, the bursts of laughter. I love hands raised in praise, or clasped in comfort. I love sunshine and tears, excitement and revelation, new friendships and old scripture. I know that I love camp but knowing that my kids love camp too is a schedule changer. Our summers center around the blocks of time required to travel, camp, visit family and camp some more.
For ten years the kids and I have spent hours planning our summers to include Wyoming for multiple weeks. The conversation about next year begins in the car on the drive home to Michigan at the end of the summer. Camp (first at Lone Tree through Adventures in Christian Kamping, then at Rim Rock, now, miraculously one organization called Haven On the Rock) for my daughter Sage has served as sort of a True North, a time when she is out of routine and therefore more open to God’s direction and persuasion in her life. Summers at camp have been a time of remembering who she is and the importance of choices that she makes all year. That daughter is presently traveling to 11 different missions in 11 countries this year, living out of a tent and a backpack, loving children around the world just like she learned to do at camp first as a Counselor in Training, then as a Counselor.
My son also loves camp. Of course I started dragging him there when he was 5. But that first summer when it was all new and he had no peers he came to me in tears, lonely. What was I to do? This was a camp for older kids. With feigned faith I prayed with him asking God to provide a friend for Rees, then sent him out to look for God’s answer while I scrambled to find ways to make it fun… but when I saw Rees next he introduced me to Kyle, another 5 year old whose mom was there to be a counselor. There ended up being a special group of youngsters with their own leader and schedule that year. Oh what a year! Over the years camp has provided Rees with some of his best friends. How can I not love camp when it has sounds like Russell saying to Rees: “I’ll be praying for you, buddy.” or watch these friends grow into leaders together? Camp has provided a realization to kids that they matter, they have an influence on others and that God wants them to join their lives to His love for the world as they play and sing and worship and ride and stay up too late. Something about camp allows that to happen in life changing ways.
My oldest child, Brianna, was an adult when she first came to camp. She came as a counselor and I watched as she poured herself into the kids in her care. I saw in a way I had never seen before that she is passionate about connecting with young people. Week after week she opened her heart to the pain and the silliness of her campers. Many of those relationships have lasted long past the week together and the care continues across the miles. Brianna is changed by these relationships even as she is influencing these amazing girls that she carries in her heart. How can I express how beautiful that is to a mother who longs for her children to be always and in all ways part of Kingdom work?
So I love camp. My children love camp. And camp has loved us, providing a place where God can continue to form us and grow us into better people who help others become better too. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.
-Dawn Brady Wimmer