We are home from camp with four loads of laundry completed, heads scrubbed that hadn’t been brushed in a week, and a wonderful nights sleep in a heavenly temperpedic wonderland.
We are sad to not be waking up at camp, but also very thankful to be home. I had the opportunity to drive home with my daughter’s and their best friend and hear their recap of the week over lunch before we reentered into city life. They all said that Camp Lurecrest feels like home to them, and that 5 days is not long enough.
My youngest told her dad last night that she had her future all figured out. Ironically, her plan corresponds with the age restrictions of being able to work at camp. She said, “First i am going to be a lifeguard, then a CT(counsoler in training), then a counsoler, then the one who talks to the kids about God(the camp pastor), and then I’m going to be the camp director. “Beware Jeremy, someone is after your job:).
What is it exactly that takes me up to the mountains year after year? It’s exhausting but enjoyable work to be a kitchen volunteer. We are up early to prepare breakfast with an hour break between the first meal and lunch. Then, we are on our feet most of the day chopping, stirring, plattering, icing, scooping, bunning,(well some are allowed to bun) and serving with an hour and a half break between lunch and dinner.
**here are some of my friends making the last night’s signature dessert….’cookie mush.’
On the last evening of camp, i was reminded of one of the main reasons i love to go up once a year. It wasn’t because i enjoy the laughter and the comradery in the kitchen. Nor because the camp cook is kind, gracious, thoughtful, and easy to help. It wasn’t because I love to catch the smiles of elation from my children and their friends while doing the various camp activities or watching my two friends and their children being obedient to the call of camp ministry.
It is because i love the sound of children worshiping and hearing the gospel of Christ whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time.
Thursday evening, i sat in the back row of the last night of chapel. It was cooling down from the warm mountain day and on my left, the sun was fading in the west.
To my right, i could hear the crickets and cicadas in the woods.
In front of me, I watched 2oo+ children and their counsoler’s singing all of the camp songs they had learned during the week. Some were fun, with great hand and body motions causing the kids to squeal and giggle as they bumped into each other. And then they settled into quieter songs that would prepare their hearts for the final message from the camp pastor.
I closed my eyes and just listened to the sounds of the childish voices singing…..
“Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.
Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave. ”
Sitting there, I was taken back almost 30 years, to when i myself heard the gospel message for the first time at Camp Lurecrest. I was nine or ten years old. There was so much i did not grasp nor fully understand at the time, and i wandered for years before finding Him again in my early 20’s. But what i did hear so long ago was that there was a man named Jesus who loved me. Loved all of me. Even the parts I hated.
I wondered as i looked out over these kids…..which of them were like me. Which of them had a hard time believing that they were indeed loveable. I knew they were out there. You couldn’t walk past the nurses station at medication time as the line stretches out the door onto the gravel road and not know there were children there who didn’t quite “fit” in.
I knew there were kids who didn’t understand what was going on at home as their families were split apart. I had witnessed the children who lashed out in anger when they were afraid or felt threatened. And i can always spot those who try to fade away in the background hoping not to be seen because they are too afraid of what you will see if you take the time to look.
And yet, at Camp Lurecrest there are people willing to take the time. to look. to listen. to care. and to love.
I marvel at the counsoler’s and CT’s(consoler’s in training) who are so sacrificial with their summers. They get very little sleep and pay as they pour themselves out hoping that just one teenager or child will come to know themselves as a ‘beloved.’
I think of the young men, who wash dishes ALL summer, three times a day. Often singing loudly to make the time pass. They are quick to laugh as the steam and water coming off the dish washer keeps them soaked and hot all day.
I recall the camp cook who rises at 5:00 am most mornings and generally works 7 days a week.
There is the Lurecrest staff and board and all of the countless hours of prayer and planning throughout the year that goes unseen, but not unfelt. You can sense something much bigger than yourself from the moment you step on campus.
And of course there are my friends, who leave their community at home for four months in order to serve and shepherd the needs of the staff and the kids all summer long.
This morning, i read these verses which touched my heart and made me think of the hope of Camp Lurecrest.
Isaiah 43 NLT
“But you are my witnesses, O Israel,” says the Lord.
“You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that i alone am God. There is no other- there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.
First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this.”
From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
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