For the last two weeks, I have had children at camp. Two weeks ago, my two daughters were at Lake Lure participating in a fabulous Christian camp called Lurecrest. My oldest daughter has been five times and my youngest two. This was the first year they had attended together. I love this camp! Talk about old-school... unairconditioned cabins with screened windows and doors (but holes big enough for a spider or two to get through). Do you remember the camp scenes in the Dirty Dancing movie? Well, you get the picture. Electronics of any kind are strictly prohibited. I know it’s hard to imagine two teenage girls without their phones for a week. But, they survived. As parents, you are allowed to send emails to your camper that are printed first thing each morning and handed to the campers in their cabins. Yep, it’s a good old fashioned mail delivery! But, you get no communication back from them. Our only connection with them is a nightly posting of pictures on their website.
So, each night that week, I scoured through hundreds of pictures looking for my girls. I actually established a little competition. I told them the one with the most sightings in the nightly pictures got 100 bucks at the end of the week. Of course, they tied!
Each night as I flipped through those pictures, I longed to go back to camp. I did attend camp as a young girl and teenager, and those weeks are some of my fondest memories of childhood. In those images, I saw memories. I saw kids making homemade floats, competing to get across a pool. I saw kids hoisting each other over obstacles and swinging on ropes into the lake. I saw kids intently making crafts. One night, I was shocked to see Tattie, standing on a stage, holding a microphone and obviously singing her heart out at a talent show. (Way to step out of your comfort zone, my darling!) And, I saw an incredible amount of spiritual formation. There were pictures of kids with their Bibles deep in thought and scribbling notes. There were videos of worship times where kids were literally jumping up and down like a mosh pit. And there were expressions of utter and complete joy as they were lost in the wonder of worship.
Last week, my boys were at camp. This time, it was at the Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain with Camp Rock, an elementary school camp sponsored by our church Forest Hill. They had a similar experience with no electronics and no communication with us other than nightly picture and video postings. I saw my boys digging through a creek chasing what appeared to be frogs, eating cake with chopsticks and making mohawks and face paint out of shaving cream. And, I saw more amazing worship, skits and spiritual formation.
When we picked the girls and boys up from their respective camps, we had an hour and a half ride to our destination both times. I'm not kidding when I tell you they did not shut up the whole ride! It was an all-out competition to see who could talk the most and tell us more details about camp. It was incredible. Tyre was so hoarse you could barely hear him, but that did not stop him from trying. The interesting part to me, however, is that they didn't want to talk about the games, the face paint, or water sports. They wanted to talk about what God had been doing in their lives and what they had been learning. In the car, the boys insisted on sharing the verse they had memorized for the week. Joshua 1:9:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
They could even tell me the story of Joshua and all the events leading up to defeat of Jericho. An entire book of the Bible had come to life for them in a few short days!
Just after coming home from camp, Tattie informed me that we needed to go buy a cactus. This was an odd request, and I inquired why. She told me that one of her counselors had a collection plants beside her bed. When she was angry, she just had a good talk with the prickly cactus. My daughter had decided that if she had a cactus, she'd be less likely to yell and scream at her siblings or parents. We drove immediately to Lowe's and bought a cactus. She picked a red one because it looked angry. She said it reminded her of the lesson she had learned at camp. She understood that her biggest enemy is herself and the choices she makes. Pretty insightful for an 11-year-old! (And, so far so good on the yelling...)
Seeing these insights, I’ve thought a lot about camp and what an incredible experience it is for my kids. And, I have thought about what an incredible experience it would be for me. How many times as adults do we take time out of our busy lives to have a retreat? How many times do we have fun for the sake of fun? (Or eat cake with chopsticks?) How many times do we worship with reckless abandon, jumping up and down, and screaming until we are hoarse? How many times do we dig deep into a book of the Bible until it comes to life? I can tell you for this busy doctor mom, it ain't happening enough! And, wondered why.
My daily Bible reading this week has been in Psalms. I read this verse last night and it resonated with me.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Somehow, I need to find that time for camp. For retreat. For restoration. For reckless abandon.
I want to be a happy camper!
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