Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kindey Stones and Jagged Rocks

 She came back. With twenty-four fresh stitches on her knee, she returned to camp.  The night before while chasing the counselor with who held one of the most sought after marbles, eleven year old Alexa tripped and landed on a jagged rock, deeply splitting the skin on her knee in two distinct pieces.  Quickly the nurse applied pressure and immediately the ambulance was called. Although no ligaments were torn (exposed but not torn), she was required to wear a knee brace and use crutches because of the position of the cut.  She insisted though on coming back to camp.  “I want to make a memory out of this,” she said. “Besides, I don’t want to miss out on anything!”
 Ironically, the theme of Sun Valley Community Church’s pre-teen camp is Collide.  They even brought up a totaled car for d├ęcor and placed it outside of the chapel.  Challenging the kids to consider what happens when they know what is right collides with what the world offers, the leadership presented discussion points each day.  Thinking about our adult lives, how often have we found ourselves headed in one direction – a seemingly smooth and clear trajectory – when we come colliding into reality?  Do we pick ourselves up like Alexa and insist on making a memory of it, a positive moment, a turning point?  Despite the pain, do we still insist on not missing out on anything God would have for us or do we check out of the game? 
Last week in our summer camp in Frontier Village, a young eleven year old Chris stood to the side of the water games, hunched over in pain. “I just have a kidney stone, that’s all,” he explained as he grunted.  My face must have expressed my shock and concern because he went on like an old veteran, “Oh, I have passed five before. It’s not passing now. I will be fine.”  Of course, I walked him over to Doc Mom to have a look. His parents had informed the camp so she was aware of his condition. He was given lots of water and reminded that he knew his body and must be honest when it was time to go to the hospital.  From Utah, Chris came to camp with the knowledge that this pain was simply a part of his life and there was no way he was going to miss out on the week with his friend and an experience at camp.  Nathan is making a memory.  His childhood would not just be marked with pain but with wild-west fun and crazy hair and uninhibited worship. 
No doubt many people will ask Alexa about her scar in her future, perhaps at an ice-breaker her freshmen year in college.  “Tell us a story about a scar,“  they will ask. “Oh, this one,” she will say as she points to her knee, “This one I got at camp.  You should have seen it. It was awesome!”   
So do any of you have a good camp scar story to share? 
Post it as a comment!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Far Reaches of a Cocoon

The call went out.  A camper was missing.  Five boys out of sleeping bags, bed head all glorious, toothbrushes in hand were ready for the showers.  But where was the sixth?  The counselor acted quickly despite his lack of sleep. Leadership was put on alert. Within minutes – seconds – the boy’s height, eye-color, clothing descriptions, medical history even was taken note of.  And just as abruptly the camper was found.  The sleeping bag on his upper cot began to wiggle. Like a reluctant, sleepy-eyed turtle, he emerged.  Tucked into the far reaches of his cocoon, the little camper was so curled up, he simply looked like a disheveled sleeping bag. The counselor was of course later teased and mocked by his beloved co-counselors when he shared the story. Despite such humiliation, the counselor took the time to nominate the same run-away (or tucked- away) for Deputy of the Day. With the bestowing of this title, comes the privilege to walk beside the marshal on night duty. He/she is also given responsibilities above those of his/her fellow campers.  It is quite the honor.  To be chosen for the position, the camper must demonstrate a care and concern for others, responsibility, and an attitude that reflects Christ. The counselor shared that this camper, the night before his disappearance, had given his only flashlight to a fellow bunk mate because he was afraid of the dark. He showed him how to use it inside his sleeping bag to make a safe haven and assured him everything would be alright. And even though it was only the first night of camp, upon hearing that his fellow teepee member did not know about God’s love for him, the tucked-away camper shared passionately how Jesus was not only his best friend, but his Savior. He went on to explain what Savior meant.  This camper seemed to know deeply what it means to be lost and then found!

It is during the counselor devotional times, that the staff is able to share such stories.  It is a chance to praise the good things they see in the campers. How often do we take those moments in children’s lives? Take a moment to brag on a child now! Share a story in our comments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wear it like you mean it!

With their pressed uniforms, their order, and their commands, the Navy junior ROTC filled one side of the dining hall. With their bright neon shirts, their enthusiasm, and their cheers, Grace Community Church’s kids group occupied the other. And both groups were very happy.  As the weeks go by and the months pass, many different guest groups come through Prescott Pines’ doors. Evening Light Fellowship visited us recently. They adhere to the traditional literal values of the Bible so their women wear flowing skirts and are adorned with long hair. I had the privilege to host the girls on the zip line.  Ever so discreetly and with grace and modesty, the young ladies were able to put their harnesses on while maintaining their convictions.  (This involved a change in a nearby teepee and a careful combination of leggings and a harness covered by a skirt.)  Resurrection Lutheran hosted their children’s camp this past week.  The church is located in a unique place in Scottsdale.  Just down the street, an apartment complex has been established as Liberian refugee housing.  The church sympathized with the needs of this displaced people group and started to bring food, clothing, and most importantly community. On Sundays, a shuttle brings them to church. Many of the kids this past week were these very children from Liberia.  Pam, the leader, spoke of how they often do not eat three meals a day. Camp provided not only an unforgettable experience for them but fed them as well. An older couple who took their time to be counselors spoke of a conversation with Suah. When the eleven year old boy found out they did not have children, his first question was “So when were they killed?” The diversity of the groups and the uniqueness of their needs is one of the aspects that makes camp an amazing place.  It is here that each comes seeking – in one way or another- and it is always our hope that we are able to reflect the love and hope found in Jesus Christ whether they come wearing pressed uniforms, neon shirts, or long skirts.   

To check out recent pictures of Frontier Village and meet the summer crew, click here!