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You Gotta Love Camp!

Jul 16 2011

Summer camp has been a part of my life for almost 35 years.  In 1978, I got my first job as a junior counselor at Camp Wapanacki, a camp for the blind in north eastern Vermont.  From then through my final year of college in 1983, I worked at a variety of camps in Vermont, California and Virginia.  Each of the camps I worked at were for children with some type of special needs: mentally retarded, blind, deaf, physical disabilities.  A dispropotionate part of my life lessons happened during those eight weeks each summer when I was away from home and put in charge of groups of children.  Camp is where I received my first pay check, my first kiss (actually several!), and, on a hot July day-off in Vermont, my first beer (actually several!)

Since becoming a disciple of Jesus in 1985, and almost immediately receiving opportunities to share the Gospel through juggling, I, and later my family and I together, have been performing at camps around the east coast.  Sometimes these gigs are one night stands, other times we move in for a week of services.  I remember Camp Salkahatchee in South Carolina.  This Methodist camp was actually an opportunity for teens to serve the rural poor during the day, then return to the base camp to have services in the evening.  I loved the camp's vision of kids being ministered to while ministering to others, a model I've since utilized in my teaching, parenting and camp directing.  I remember a camp in Rockland, ME, although I forget its name, where we went down to the rocky shore at dusk and watched the seals at play.  I remember our two year old Jona-Lynn trying to convince a counselor at a Salvation Army camp to come home with us because the counselor was dressed as Minnie Mouse for a special camp program.  Jo thought she had met the actual Minnie Mouse... a real celebrity to a toddler.

Since 2005 I've been directing Baptist Park in Mapleton, Maine.  We've been here lone enough to see campers grow up and become counselors, counselors grow up and become husbands and wives (often the result of summer camp romances), we've been here long enough to have a pretty well established core of speakers we call on each summer, and we've been here long enough for even the most suspicious north woods Baptists to begin to trust us. 

How long will the Lord have us here in the summers?  I don't know, but it is a question I'm starting to ask for the first time.  Honestly, the camp needs a local person who can promote and serve at the camp year 'round.  Soon, I suspect, the camp will need someone younger in the role of director.  Also, I see us doing more short term missions now that our oldest two are not living at home.  When will God lead us elsewhere in the summers?  I don't know for sure, and part of me hopes we'll be here many more summers.  But I guess I'll think about that another time, because right now there's a 70 foot slip & slide that needs staking down, a show for a Cub Scout group that's renting the camp this weekend to set up for, reports to write for last week's session, and a program to finalize for the session starting tomorrow. 

you gotta love camp!

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The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I just wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

"There's no questioning it. This is powerful stuff. It's extremely touching at times, never less than entertaining, and I see a lot of sincere love for Jesus in you guys."  -Dwight Lilies, song writer

The Lord has given you a wonderful window through which to present the Gospel!   - Field Director of Alliance Missions to Paraguay

"What a wonderful ministry to both children and adults.  In past years it has been a struggle to arrange programing that would hold the attention of all ages, but also challenge each heart with God's gift of Salvation.  Thank you for sharing your ministry."  -Sunday School Sup't.

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