Personal Experiences

It’s About the Campers

by Jacob Mammen

Folks, camp is a highlight of my year! For one refreshing week we are off the grid, away from the distractions and influences of the world. Immersed into an environment where real spiritual growth can take place in both the campers and staff combined!

As I reflect on the years I have served at summer camp I’m always drawn to drill down and ask myself some tough questions about how I served. One that I like to ask myself and I’ll ask you is this: “Was serving at camp less about me and more about the campers?”

If I’m honest with myself I have to admit there were years that I served at camp where it was more about me than the campers. I thought it was a week for me to have fun, to see my friends, and to socialize to the max with them! There’s no problem having fun and seeing your friends, but it can be if it’s the chief motivator of why we serve at camp.

We serve at camp to serve God and the Youth. A byproduct of serving for those reasons is the fun we can have on staff, the relationships that are built, and the spiritual growth we can have by being in a leadership role.

Am I saying I’ve mastered this? Nope! Have I gotten better? Yes! Each year I try to make this Christian walk a little less about me and more about God and Jesus Christ and others! Each year at camp I try to make it less about me and more about the campers!

This 2017 camp season, while serving at camp, will you join me in making camp a little less about ourselves and more about the campers and others? I think what you will find is that when we do this, camp becomes even more fulfilling! When we decrease for the sake of others we are adopting an attitude of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He didn’t come for Himself, but for everyone else. Let’s put this attitude into action this 2017 Camp Season.

Scripture: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

 

What Camp Meant to Me Growing Up

by Stephanie Lippincott

As a 20-year-old that has been attending camp ever since age 6, I have a lot of great memories made during my time at camp each summer and one Winter Camp. I remember peering nervously over the edge of the platform the first time I went down the zipline, and learning to chug water when our counselors made us drink three glasses at each meal to avoid getting heatstroke.

I remember the awkwardness when we first started to dance with boys, the thrill of sleeping in a snow shelter when it was -13 degrees outside, and the feeling of satisfaction when riding a wave all the way to shore on a boogie board.

We played volleyball, basketball, learned to waterski and wakeboard, and at one point even golfed, and yet while these activities were fun, I would not say that they were the highlights of my camp experience.

The most valuable moments that I have had at camp often occurred back in the cabin after an exhausting day, when we all came together as a dorm and talked. In those conversations we covered everything from personal trials and doubts and questions about Scripture, to prophecy and how God expects us to be preparing for His Kingdom.

During our week together, we were able to get to the point where we felt comfortable going past the superficial and delving into the topics that truly mattered. From my experience, even at church services we often struggle to get past catching up on the news from the week and make it to discussing weightier and more substantial topics. It is not always easy, especially as a young person, to find a way to transition smoothly from talking about the weather or school to discussing God’s plan for mankind.

This is one reason that the camp program is so valuable: It put teens and young adults into an environment where conversations about God occur spontaneously and naturally. In the Zone, campers have the opportunity to discuss God’s way of life with their peers and to begin to feel more comfortable opening up topics that they might not have previously.

Because camp emphasizes the importance of building a closer relationship with God, the conversation also shifts that direction, and as a result the week is full of thought-provoking, encouraging and eye-opening discussions that allow campers and staff alike to learn from each other and grow in their knowledge of God. While they might lose a little sleep in the process, it is well worth the loss.

 

My First Time Experience at United Youth Camp

by Paula Andrea Buitrago Aponte (Bogotá, Colombia)

My life changed completely the moment I began to know the truth of the Eternal. From that moment I felt that an emptiness that I had always carried within me was beginning to be filled. All the questions I always had and that I never received answers from the church I previously attended began to be resolved. I began to remove bad habits from my life and to strive to be a better representative of Christ on earth. Since I knew that there was a United Youth Camp for young people with my beliefs where I live in Colombia, I wanted to attend. This year I had the great opportunity to attend camp, something that I will remember the rest of my life.

From the moment I arrived and met my campmates and new friends, I knew I was in a different place. It is wonderful to feel the affection and joy by being surrounded by people who are beginning to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Every compass check class was a new life lesson that I felt as if it were directed specifically to me. They were treasures of learning about this way of life that, of course, I remember and try to put into practice in my daily life. I loved that subjects were specifically addressed to young believers who, in a world so corrupt, must strive to try to follow the teachings God gives us.

I really enjoyed the place where we had camp. It was a beautiful place and very close to nature, where you can appreciate the wonders of creation just by looking out the window. I am particularly fascinated by nature, especially animals, so such a place was perfect to delight to observe these precious creatures.

Every activity was a lot of fun. We played soccer, volleyball, games of dexterity, ran an obstacle course and enjoyed everything we could do each day.

I will always thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend the camp in San Gil because it was an unforgettable experience of learning, fun, and making friends who share the same beliefs, and of strengthening us in the way of life that we want to continue. I hope that every young person in the Church can attend a camp and never forget the most important thing—all the teachings we receive there are to help us be better Christians.

 

First Year Camper

by Lily Puckett

My name is Lily Puckett, and this past year I went to Camp Woodmen. I had never been to a teen camp before, and I was really nervous about going. I worried so much that I made myself sick sometimes. What did they do at the teen camp? Who would I meet there? Old friends? New friends? Would I make new friends? My sister Crete had been to teen camp before, and I’ve always wanted to go and see what it was like. Plus, it wasn’t fair to hear about all the fun she had at camp when she came home.

When I found out that I could go this year I was so excited. I had always wanted to go to Camp Woodmen to try all the different activities. Plus I had heard that Christian living classes were interesting because they taught lessons about God and God’s way of life. One of my favorite activities was the High Ropes. When I first saw it, I wanted to start climbing on it right away. I couldn’t wait to see how far up I could go. I was shocked that I was able to climb all the way up with just a little bit of help. My dad was there cheering me on with my dorm, and that made me feel really good.

Before camp started I wasn’t sure if I was going to fit in or feel comfortable around people that I didn’t know. But I was still determined to make it a great time. I knew that some of my friends would be going to camp so that helped. I also knew that the staff would be kind and supportive in whatever activity I was doing. There is also this thing called the Zone, and in it everyone is kind, works together and tries to live like God. This helped me have fun at camp.

So if you are thinking about going to camp, I recommend doing the following to get ready. Plan to study your Bible and take notes during Christian living classes to learn even more about God. Bring a positive and can-do attitude so you and your dormmates will have fun at activities. And don’t forget about dance class and showing off your dance moves. I hope to see you at Camp Woodmen this year.