So, what brings you to camp? Each year, I enjoy hearing the range of responses to this very simple question. For some, the honest reply is that they had no say in the matter. For others, it’s a week looked forward to all year for a variety of reasons.
For me, the answer is fairly basic. After 12 summers of camp, each year continues to feel like a new experience, and I find that I ask myself the same “What brings you here?” question annually. I never attended church camp as a kid. And to be honest, a week at camp wasn’t always in my summer vacation plans when charting my future. It’s not that I was ever opposed to camp, rather that I never had any experience or knowledge of camp—despite attending church my entire life.
It was my wife, Andrea, who invited me to my first week at camp back in 2006, and I’ve been blessed to serve alongside her for each of the last 12 summers. Over the years, we’ve experience many changes in our lives, but camp has remained a summer destination. Andrea and I married in 2007, and have three wonderful kids who love camp and look forward to returning each year. Macy (nearly 8), Mya (6), and Clayton (4) have all attended camp since birth, and have donated many dirty diapers to camp during our summer stays. A couple years ago, we decided to pass that baton to Mitch and Kaitlin Harrell, who we’ve co-deaned Junior/Senior Week at camp with for the last eight summers.
In addition to a growing family, camp has remained part of our summer despite changing jobs and careers. Andrea has transitioned from full-time employment as a registered nurse in a clinical setting to an educational setting, while also serving as a full-time mom and taking classes toward a doctor of nursing practice degree and family nurse practitioner specialty. I’ve transitioned careers from high school educator, to substance abuse prevention coordinator, and to my current position as an IT systems analyst—and feel that I’ll one day discover what I was made to be when I grow up! Our lives have taken various turns, and we both feel God brings together our former experiences, at just the right time, to use us in ways that we may not presently see.
Along our journey way, Andrea and I have met and served with many great people at camp for whom we are truly thankful, and have witnessed lives changed in the name of Jesus. With the shifting demands in our own lives, making it through a week of camp isn’t always an easy task or one without stress, but each has proven impactful beyond our ability. In what feels like mounting weaknesses in our own abilities to lead camp, we’re reminded in 2 Corinthians that it is in our weakness that His power is made perfect, and we are made strong. And for that, may God receive the glory!
How long will we continue serving at camp? At this point in our lives, the answer to that question is one difficult to predict. My prayer is simply that with each day presented, we’re heading in the direction that God has planned, our steps aligning with His will and purpose so that others may be introduced to the love and saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I could think of many other places to spend a week during the summer, but when I ask myself, “What brings you to camp?,” I find my answer is simply this: God uses church camp to save lives, and at this point in my life, it’s right where He wants me to be.