The summer before my last semester in college I, like many people at that age, needed a job. I wanted something to do with kids, since I was going for a degree in education. So somewhat on a whim, I decided to apply to work at the Lutheran camp my family had grown up going to each year for family camp. The camp was Camp Luther in northern Wisconsin. The year was 2009.
That summer changed the entire trajectory of my life.
At camp, I discovered the incredible power and meaning of living a life completely devoted to serving. I experienced the intoxicating wonder of true and deep community and connection. I saw how Jesus uses his creation to break down walls and make people open to change. I got less sleep than I ever had in my life. I had more fun than I ever had in my life. I never wanted to leave.
So I didn’t.
Since that time I’ve worked at three different camps, winding up at my current job as Program Director at Lakeview Ministries in southern Indiana. The ministry that happens at camp has shaped me into who I am today. It’s exposed me to hundreds of people who have shown me what it means to live a life of faith and supported me in my own journey. It’s put me into places time and again where I had no other choice but to trust in the faithfulness of God. It’s helped me understand more about who God is, and who I am, and what it looks like to follow Jesus in this life.
And the best thing is, I know that this impact of camp is not my story alone. As a Program Director, I get to see it played out in the lives of dozens of summer staff and thousands of campers each summer.
The ministry that happens at camp is powerful. It’s a setting that can’t be easily replicated elsewhere. Camps serve a unique place in the church. They are catalysts for change and new beginnings, for powerful friendships and hope.
On the very first day of staff training, back in 2009, if you had asked me what I expected from the summer, I don’t know what answer I would have given you. But never in a million years would I have dreamed of everything that followed.
That’s the power of camp. It blows your expectations out of the water.