By Joyell Nevins – CFFM Blogger
“God loves you…but I’m His favorite!” was a resounding cry throughout YES! Camp 2020. That sense of fun, coupled with a reminder of the love God has for us and the relationship Jesus wants with us, exemplifies what camp was all about.
Like five-time camper Molly said, “The one thing that blessed me the most was being able to talk to friends and show God’s love to one another.”
We started camp by learning who Jesus was and receiving his words of life and ended with an explosion of the Father’s love and committing ourselves forward. In between, there was a fire show, homemade ice cream, swimming, bowling, four-square (the unofficial camp game of choice), and lots of singing.
Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…” and we did! We sang about His “Strong Love,” we did a conga-style line to “The River is Rising,” we prayerfully soaked (like quiet listening) with We the Kingdom, and then we just got goofy with songs about donkeys and jellyfish.
We learned that even the non-spiritual has a spiritual side, like when Pastor Tom helped us use a song about a “Little Red Wagon” to tell the devil “NO, not today!”
Smiles and Tears
We also learned that Jesus shows up in the joyful side of life and the hurting side, too. We honored and remembered our late friend and camper Macie with skits, stories, tears, and smiles.
We heard teachings about some heavy situations that people had walked through, like that “valley of the shadow of death” King David wrote about in Psalms 23 , and we heard how God and Jesus walked them out of those situations.
First-time camper Ana put it this way: “The biggest thing that blessed me at camp was the variety and different testimonies, and being able to listen to different people’s stories on how Jesus changed their hearts and renewed their lives.”
We campers also set visions for the future, when we made our own “coats of arms.” Using a plethora of colors, we drew a shield that showed something we were proud of, something we wanted to do before we died, three strengths we have, and three challenges we are working on. Getting to do the shields in our Power Groups (think of it like our home fellowship or small group for the week) gave us opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level, too.
Washed in the River of Joy
Behind the scenes, one of the catch phrases with camp is “everything is subject to change.” We set a structure and have plans in place, but there is always opportunity for God to change the game.
However, one of the few traditions that has not changed over the years is the annual canoe trip down the Stillwater River.
This year, that trip ended with baptisms for those who wanted it. Pastor “Dre from L.A.” and camper-counselor Kristen prayed with, spoke over, and baptized anyone who desired to make that outward showing of an inner commitment.
From the youngest camper to one of our eldest staff members, 20 people lined up in the river water. One of the campers described himself as feeling “fresh,” like a brand-new person afterwards. The change comes in the heart, but sometimes a physical reminder can be powerful, too!
That’s one of the reasons camp continues to be such a transformative part of our lives. God and Jesus can show up anywhere, but when our ears are open and our hearts are light, surrounded by people that we know love us, something special happens in those Ohio fields.
Have a story or testimony from camp you would like to share? Email it to Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.