Friday, August 8, 2014

Bunk Notes

My thoughts have been taken back to my childhood this week as I am serving as the nurse at the camp that was my home away from home for many years.  As I reflect, I am in denial that what feels like just a few years ago, is in reality thirty some years ago.  

Many things are the same.  The original cabins are still here and some newer ones have been added.  The gym has had a facelift, but the pool which hosted cheers from cabin mates during water olympics is still inviting on these hot summer days.  A modern day splash-ground sits beside it and offers it’s own refreshing fun.  Canoes are still heading downstream and bows are finding their mark in the archery range. The old chapel has been replaced by a new, bigger and better building which doesn’t offer the nostalgic rattling of window units running on hot summer nights.  Tonight, the campers will gather around a fire in the outdoor chapel and share songs and testimonies.  I suspect they won’t sing Sing Halleluia to the Lord or Ha-la-la-la-la-la-la-le-luia...and there probably won’t be the back scratches that came along with it.  

While some things have changed, one thing remains the same.  The love of Jesus Christ is being shown and many are hearing of His grace for the first time.  It has been both a blessing and a challenge to see camp through the eyes of an adult.  Watching the counselors interact with the campers has been a beautiful experience.  I’m quite certain that I was not as confident and mature in my faith when I served as a counselor as they are.  They are very intentional in connecting with the campers on both a spiritual and personal level.  While one camper was in the nurse’s station for an extended time, the counselor sat with him and instead of making small talk, took the opportunity of some one-on-one time to go deeper with questions about his faith.  I watched through a cracked door as another counselor sat in the room praying while his camper was sleeping due to illness.  I’ve watched the counselors handle relational issues within the cabins with grace.  And yes, the counselors are right there in the middle of the fun times, too.  

I’m not one who likes to function in the midst of urgent situations, so the idea of being here for a week as the nurse was rather intimidating.  Fortunately, nothing has come up that I have not been able to handle.  There have been lots of mosquito bites, bee stings and more scraped knees than I can keep track of.  More often than not, a bandaid or some Tylenol is all that is needed, but some things can’t be “fixed” so easily.  I’ve been handing out more psychiatric medications than I could have ever imagined which leaves my mind to wonder what these kids have walked through in this short span of their lives.  I’ve seen the urgency of wanting broken glasses to be fixed so parents wouldn’t find out, and the subsequent anxiety that erupted when realizing the best that could be done is holding everything together with tape. 

Battlelines have been drawn this week and I have found myself on the frontlines of a spiritual attack.  Campers have been lined up at times by the cabinful with not feeling well.  Discerning what is real and what is just a ploy of the enemy has been difficult.  Staff members are running low on energy and running high on fevers.  The medicine cabinet is running out of Sudafed and cough syrup.  I’m thankful that our God is bigger than these obstacles and has given us His armor to wear.  I’m grateful for the victories that have been won in the lives of kids who have been unaware that a war was being waged for their very souls.  

More than anything, I have witnessed the hands and feet of Jesus this week and I have been blessed.  I know how hard it can be to leave a mountain-top experience and return to everyday life.  Seeds have been planted and I pray they will take deep root and grow to bear much fruit.  

An old camp song is ringing through my mind as I close:

Let us lift our voices in song. Come and join us...and sing along. 
  Let the praises ring through valley and o’er hill. 
  Listen to God’s call for you surrender to His will.  
  You’ll find real joy you will want to tell
  Of all God has done for you at Camp Joy-El
  The joy of the Lord I’ve found can be yours as well
  As God speaks to you and me at Camp Joy-El.” 

For more information on Joy El Ministries, go to

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