I woke up this morning at Luther Park Bible Camp and through my window I heard the soft pitter patter of rain drops. Mixed in with that sound was the sound of birds chirping. It was amazingly peaceful. I sat there in my bed at 4:45 am (yes, I know), and two thoughts came into my head: oh no, we won’t be able to have campfire worship tonight at Trinity and I hope it stops so the girls can go back out on the challenge course today!
It is no secret of my love for Bible Camp and the important role I believe it plays in the faith development of kids. I’m also a realist and understand that camp does not always have the same impact on every youth. There will be a profound impact on some, some it will have a smaller impact, and on others it will have a large impact but they won’t admit it as it would be uncool to do so. Camp not only impacts faith, but it can challenge, it can stretch boundaries and expectations, and it can push and test a person’s limitations. I believe all of that is good for kids no matter their age.
But sometimes I forget that the impact felt is not just on the kids, it is on the adults too. I think of our girl’s counselor Jess. This is her first week EVER of leading campers. She was scared. I remember my first week as a camp counselor. I thought I was going to pee my pants. But she has done an amazing job with the girls but what I also see is that they are doing amazing things for her. As we shared and talked together, she spoke about what great girls they were, how much she enjoyed them, and how she was going to remember them for a very long time. And this was on Tuesday. Our kid’s spirit, their faith, was inspiring her.
For us pastors, we get inspired by the kid’s faith as well, by watching the Holy Spirit pull on them, by seeing the ways they express themselves and interact with each other. Pastor Ken from Stanley and myself went out on the challenge course with our girls (who are in the same cabin) to take some pictures and they wanted us to participate, and so with them we tried to conquer the log and the balance platform, laughing and falling and struggling and succeeding together. In those moments, we weren’t pastors and kids, we were teammates and members together of the body of Christ. And last night, at dinner, when they asked Pastor Ken and I to join them again on the challenge course today, it was hard to see them be sad when we both said we couldn’t because they were going out in the late afternoon and we would both be back at church, getting ready to lead worship.
We pastors also get inspired by each other through the conversations we have and the friendships and relationships that are formed during camp week. We serve camp where we can but we are encouraged to just be with the kids and the counselors. It has been cool to have counselors who remember me and talk to me like an old friend and to meet new ones and get to know them. It is fun for Pastor Brahm and I to play during worship and to have all the pastor’s try, and fail, to play capture the flag with the kids. We get to sit with and meet kids from all over and get to see that God is doing amazing things. And it was surreal to get a phone call from Kayla, a counselor who had kids from Trinity 7 years ago at Luther Park. She also came and was VBS coordinator for our VBS one year. I got to know her very well and in that seven years I watched her go from camp counselor to seminary student and, on August 15th, she will become my pastoral colleague as she will be ordained into Word and Sacrament ministry. She called to tell me the date and ask if I might be able to be there and that she wants me to have a role in that service. And that all started seven years ago when, during her very first week of campers, she was inspired by, and shared her faith with, a group of campers from Trinity Lutheran Church.
God works in mysterious ways. Thanks be to God!