Is Camp for Me?
Is camp for me?
You've probably been faced with this question at some point in your life. Maybe it's because your best friend is always talking about how fun camp was, and you don't want to miss out.
Or perhaps you feel a little curious every time your youth camp promo video plays.
Whatever sparked your interest, camp has caught your eye. You hear stories about God moving in students hearts. Sometimes you wish you could experience that. You hear about the games, competitions, team cheers, small group sessions, and dorm pranks. But something in you is a little hesitant...what would the camp be like? Would you know anyone there? And, the more you think about it, the idea of getting wet and muddy doesn't sound inviting. Eh...you might try it someday. But not today. Besides, your summer is crazy with other activities.
Don't buy those excuses! Don't you realize that Satan is trying to get you to miss out on what could be the best week of your life? Have you ever thought about that? It's true.
I get how scary going to a new place can be. I am a strong introvert, and the idea of being on a bus with teenagers squished next to me is disgusting. But one year, I decided to step out of my comfort zone. You know what? I don't regret it. Let me tell you my first youth camp (as a camper) experience...*
"Um...excuse me? Are you the check-in person?" I timidly asked a lady with a lanyard. My hands clutched a white droopy pillow in one hand and luggage in the other. The lady, college-aged and somewhat patronizing looked at me with exasperation. I'm sure every leader that walked past me could tell this was my first year as a camper.
As I stepped on the bus, a wave of fear swept over me. What now? From the first row of giggly girls, to the back row of rowdy boys, my eyes went from one camper to the next. I am not about to talk to a random teenager! I told myself. But thankfully, I eventually spotted a girl in the back with an extra spot beside her.
"Hi, my name is Candice. Can I sit here?" Nodding in slow motion, she gave me a place beside her. I sat down with a look of relief on my face.
"Are you from around here?"
"No." She answered bluntly.
"Oh." I reacted, somewhat taken back. But instead of ending the conversation there, I decided to ask her more. Guess what? God used me to be able to talk to her! Just by being willing to step out and keep pressing (but not in an annoying way) we were both able to loosen up and get to know each other. Here's what I learned:
Don't just go to camp expecting for an impact in your life. Look for opportunities to impact another girl!
"Alright, campers. Everybody find your small group leader and head to groups. After groups will be the dance party. Meet back here in an hour for that. Don't forget your white tee shirt!" Easy enough... I thought. I started out the auditorium door with my mom's cross body purse draped around me. Awkward in many ways, I followed the crowd until it all evened out. Desperate to find my leader, I asked around if people knew where the 6th grade girls were meeting. It was a big campground!
"Have you seen my leader so and so?"
"Uh, yeah she's with the 6th grade group around the building." A random leader replied.
"Oh, ok awesome!" I rejoiced. But when I reached the back of the building, no one was there."Great."
I frantically asked around. It was dark now, and the eerie peach lights left alley shadows over the buildings. My gut instinct was to just wait for them, but I wasn't about to stand here and wait for someone to show up. So I started up the path. "Oh great! I'm LOST now!!" After many trips up and down the campground road, I fell apart emotionally. " I can't even get the key to our cabin because the leader has it!!" Long story short, I decided the only logical thing to do was scan the area to find the most junior-high looking small group. "There's got to be a seventh grade group somewhere!" But the more I looked the less confident I was feeling. "Ok, I better just go back to the one around the corner..." What I didn't know was, that group happened to be a High-school small group. I sat down awkwardly in between two annoyed girls. "Uh, excuse me. Can I sit here?!" I noticed a girl from my cabin across the circle.
"HI!" I mouthed. She was equally embarrassed as she was confused.
"What are you doing here?!" She mouthed in agitation. I attempted to explain through hand motions why I wasn't with the 6th grade girls. Obviously, she didn't get the message.
"THIS ISN'T YOUR SMALL GROUP!" She spelled.
"I KNOW!!" I responded. But after listening to some heavy topics, I decided that it was probably just best for me to walk away. So I took the embarrassing walk in full view of the small group around the building.
After pouring my heart out to my dad, who was thankfully the speaker that particular camp, I continued searching for my leader. "Oh good! Music!" I thought. Lights reflected outside the dance party and I realized she was probably in there. "Now I can go get the key!" I squealed. There I was; little 6th grade Candice walking into the booming music, neon lit and glow stick throwing party. I pushed my way through the dancing crowd and spotted my leader. "Hey! Leader!" But she didn't hear me! She was too busy dancing with her friends. "Please! I need the room-"
"Oh hi Candice!" She sang.
"Hi, yes. I've been looking for-"
"Come join the dance party!" She insisted, without ceasing to dance.
"I need the room key!!!!"
"Ohhhh!" She stopped. I anxiously watched her pull the metal key from her pocket.
"Heeee-rrrr-e yyy-ooooo-uu ggg-ooooo...." She smiled. I ran victoriously out of the auditorium and back to the room. Talk about an exciting first camp!
But here's what I learned:
Sometimes the journey is what you need to embrace. Don't wait to sign up for camp just because you don't know everything that is going to happen.
Whatever situation it might be, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my church (or a similar one) have a camp this summer?
- Am I looking for a place I can connect with friends and God?
- Are my parents okay if I go?
There's gazillions of camps taking place in summer, but what I'm talking about is church camp. Every church is different and has cool ways of presenting the Gospel. Don't be picky when deciding if the camp your church offers is "fun enough" or has clean bathrooms. You're only a teen for so long-so enjoy life and reflect later! You don't have to be an extravert to live it up. Meeting new friends, exploring God's Word, and enjoying summer activities is something most teenagers crave (even if they don't realize it).
Turn off your phone and sign up for CAMP!!!
(NOTE* The camp experience and it's dialog are based on true events. The actual words and conversation were scripted to give the basic idea of Candice's emotions, but not the literal words she spoke. Candice combined her two middle school camp stories into one.)