I went to summer camp once when I was about 10 or 12 years old. There are things I can vividly remember like barely being able to tread water long enough to be allowed to swim, having mosquitoes attack me when we slept under the stars one night, and encouraging a cabin mate to surrender her life to the Lord's leading. I went to summer camp for the second time in my life this past week.
King's Camp takes place each July at a campground near Butler, PA. This year there were 87 children, the most ever. The theme was "Stand Firm: Plant Your Feet on the Solid Rock."
Each day began with morning exercises. After breakfast, each cabin was responsible for cleaning up their area so that Princess White Glove could inspect it before lunch. The cleanest cabin had the privilege of housing Leo or Lucy (stuffed lions) for the day. After cleanup, we all enjoyed morning chapel and Bible time where we heard various Bible stories that related to the theme. We learned our daily verse and then had a chance to recite our memorized verse to earn points for our teams and a jewel in our crown. Yes, we each wore a crown all week long—proudly, I might add. After lunch, each cabin had a time of connection where they could reflect on the message given by the missionary the previous evening. At 2:45 each day, we had snack time. During this time, we could all (staff and campers) recite more verses we had learned. The daily activity took place after snack time, and the kids chose two of the following: fishing, archery, crafts, ropes/obstacle course, and water sports. After the kids were given some free time, they lined up for supper at 5:30. The missionaries for the week, Brad and Tricia, talked each night about what it is like to be a missionary, what missionaries need, and the importance of missionaries in this world. Surprise time each night brought a sense of anticipation for the special activity that each team would participate in. There was singing, candy hunting, throwing water balloons, etc. Once the campers ate their snacks, it was time for lights out. Then it would start all over the next day.
There were four specific things I pulled out from my week at camp that I will remember:
Faith: It was wonderful to be steeped in God's Word from sunup to sundown. Staff had devotions each morning before the campers awoke, and we were able to memorize verses along with the campers. I was surprised by how many verses I was able to memorize—27—since it's been quite a while since I've memorized anything. Our theme passage was Ephesians 6:10-19, which speaks of the armor of God. Our chapel time each morning discussed the history and purpose behind each piece of armor. Of course, I loved this part because I enjoy learning about history. It also helped us to understand why Paul chose each piece of armor he discussed and how it protects us. Bible time with Princess Julia encouraged us throughout the week to be strong, brave, loving, faithful, and watchful. We learned about biblical figures like Job and Gideon. The missionary at King's Camp this year, Brad Henderson, serves in Tanzania and is currently on furlough until January 2015. He was engaging and passionate about sharing his faith. Many children and staff were moved to consider serving as missionaries in the future and learned about the practical first steps to doing so. There were five children who gave their hearts to Christ during the week. Being able to see my own son lead a child to Christ about moved me to tears.
Friends: Not only did the campers make new friends, but the staff did as well. I came in as a newbie; it was my first year on staff. There were many times I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. We stayed up late playing games and talking. The younger staff also had one night during the week when they were able to stay up late and hang out. How about those ultimate spoons, guys? Friends were available to help through the hard times during the week. They encouraged us to make good decisions. These new friends were eager to learn as much as they could about us. Though I had just met most of the people I worked with this past week, they are most definitely family, and I can't wait to see them again.
Food: There were nearly 140 people, and there was no shortage of good food here. We had french toast, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, fruit, juice, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast (not all on the same day). Lunch consisted of sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, veggies, and dessert. Supper was spaghetti, Thanksgiving dinner, ham, hot dogs, chicken, veggies, and dessert. The desserts were delicious—Texas sheet cake, blueberry/chocolate chip muffins, Jell-O, corn flake cookies, homemade kettle corn, and ice cream. There were snacks in the afternoon and snacks at night. I still can't believe that I was able to lose some weight despite the amount of food I ate.
Fun: There was no shortage of fun either. Kids were always laughing and running around. They enjoyed their daily activities and had stories to share each day about how fast they ran the ropes course or how many fish they caught. Of course, surprise time in the evenings was a favorite event. Sunday night was the great candy hunt. There were also singing competitions, a scavenger hunt, quizzing, and relays. All of the surprise time events, Scripture memorization, cabin cleanup, and missionary offering gave the campers a chance to earn points for their team. This year was Beryl's turn to win, despite the best efforts of other teams to bypass them.
It was a full week. So many exciting and inspiring things happened throughout the week that it would be impossible to relate them all. The one thing that impressed me most was the Scripture memorization. I want to continue that now that I am home. I want to write down all of the passages I did memorize and remind myself of each of them from time to time. I want to learn the ones I did not get around to memorizing. After that, I want to find new verses. I want to hide God's Word in my heart. I want to keep it close and never forget what God has said to me through His Word.
Here are some of the verses/passages we learned in case you are interested in memorizing them yourself:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
2 Thessalonians 3:3
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Timothy 2:22-23
I can't wait to go back to camp next year!