Camp is a place where lifelong friendships are made. It’s a place where teens can get away from the daily grind of life and find themselves.
It’s a place where character is shaped, where incredible memories are made that will never be forgotten. And, if it’s done right, it’s a place where one’s devotion and relationship to Yeshua will be forged stronger than ever.
This year at camp our teaching theme was “The Call,” and it was all about developing our relationship with Yeshua. I began the first session by talking about my childhood experience in the church. I told the campers the story of when I accepted Yeshua into my life at age five after hearing an altar call presentation at a Sunday School class my mom was teaching. We discussed the importance of having these altar-call-type experiences in our lives when we make a public and personal declaration of our commitment to the Master. It’s this kind of watershed that we can draw on in tough times to remember our commitment to Yeshua and our pledge to discipleship.
In the rest of the eight daily teachings, we discussed various topics surrounding discipleship such as the importance of heeding Yeshua’s call on our lives, how Yeshua connects us to the Father, dying to ourselves, and the importance of reading the Gospels on a daily basis. After each teaching, the campers would break up into discussion groups and answer questions related to the daily theme. Then we would come back together and discuss their answers. I was always impressed with how seriously they took the study, and their answers even encouraged me in my relationship with Yeshua. Each day we stressed the importance of finding practical ways to connect with Yeshua in our everyday life.
On the last night, we decided that we would open up a type of altar call at the last campfire. One of the art projects the campers did earlier in the week was to paint on one side of the canvas things they would like to leave behind from before camp and then paint on the other side what they would like their life to look like post-camp. We then broke these in half and burned the side with everything they wanted to leave behind at this last campfire. It was a rare moment at camp where there was almost complete silence. Tears were shed, and many hugs were given.
On the heels of this, I invited anyone who wanted to make a public declaration and commitment to discipleship in Yeshua to come forward. About a third of the campers came and gathered around the fire. The rest of us came behind them, and I prayed for the group. It was more powerful than words can describe.
As I told the campers, it is my prayer that they take what they learned and experienced at camp and bring it back home. We are not here for just a fun twelve days, but we are here to strengthen our relationship with God and his precious Son, Yeshua. From the participation in the talks to the campers’ comments in discussion time to the final campfire, I am confident that what took place at camp will be long-lasting.