My childhood friends and I would always discuss everything we
disliked hated about camp. We dreaded the giant slide question and the “you’re so sheltered” look. We were very perceptive kids, and we had many heated discussions on all the pressures we were feeling.
Don’t misunderstand, there were wonderful things about growing up as “camp kids.” My childhood friends and I have many incredible memories and we share a rich history. But just like any other environment, there were many difficulties too.
As a “camp kid”, there was loneliness, constant change, overwhelming busyness, the pressure to look good, unjust judgement of who we were, and feelings of inadequacy. I mean, were our problems really problems? We came from a good family, after all.
But now I’m all grown up.
I am just 8 days away from choosing to work and live at Wolf Mountain Christian camp. It has taken me so many days to get to this place. If you ask me, “Why are you going back?!”, I refuse to give you the glossy answer of this is God’s call for my life.
I do believe I’m honoring God in this decision, and I am so excited about this next life step! However, it took many days to come to this conclusion. I revolted at the idea of camp ministry in the past, and I couldn’t make sense of anything before this last year.
As you can see, this is a messy question and it deserves an answer. A camp kid who goes back to work at camp is no small thing. It’s a commitment I didn’t expect to make.
My childhood friends may even shake their heads, and raise their eyebrows and ask, “Well, don’t you remember when? didn’t this hurt you? why are you returning?” Of course, I remember! But let me tell you about my heart these days—
I took a whole year away from family, camp, organized ministry, and busyness in order to reflect on life. I figured out the parts of my heart that were tangled together and so confused.
Since graduating high school in 2012, I’ve had small glimpses into this final decision, but everything was so scattered that I couldn’t piece it all together. When I finally did and “I actually enjoy camp work” was the result, I was terrified and so confused.
How could I want to work at camp forever? What about courage? Was I just not brave enough to try something else, to learn something new? Was I being complacent?
These were questions I had to answer. A year away from everything cleared away the splotches and I was able to piece together the long 4-year puzzle. I was left with heart knowledge, and that knowledge is this—
I have a heavy burden for camp kids. I’ve been one. I know what it’s like. I want to be there when other kids grow up on the camp scene. I want to share in their adventures, their joy, and their triumphs. But more importantly, I want to be around when they are struggling. They may not struggle in the same way I did, but they will struggle, and we will have common ground.
I may not always be able to help, but I can at least be available and that is something I would not give up if you offered me a million bucks. The over-looked, “good” kids? Those are my kids. They have my heart. I love them.
I’ve slowly realized that Ben and I can use our person-hood to its absolute fullest in the camp ministry. This kind of ministry is not for everyone. There are different ways for everyone to fully use their talents, skills, and abilities for God.
There is not one right way for everyone to do it. I’m not going to convince you to work at camp. It’s up to you to figure out how to best give your life to God.
As I’ve gone on a long journey realizing camp work is the best way for me to give my life to God, I have also discovered how much Ben thrives in this line of ministry.
He loves helping people, and he loves to be behind-the-scenes. At Wolf Mountain, he will have the opportunity every day to serve and help people. This kind of work energizes him! He loves it. As his best friend and wife, I love watching him thrive.
I have also come to know that I’d be running away if I didn’t go back. God doesn’t drop big buckets of illumination on your head letting you finally in on the big will He’s got for you (that’s a whole different topic!). I simply kept taking the next right step in life. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fun, but every time I said yes to God and no to myself, I realized more of how I could live more fully for Him.
My husband and I did not wake up one day and say, “God gave us a dream! We are working at camp!” We just lived every day, making the next decision, purposing to live right before God, and ever so slowly it became clear that this was the next step for us.
It seemed as though God gently cultivated a new dream within me, as I slowly answered the nagging questions and discovered the tangled parts of me. I didn’t expect this to be the answer, but it has become abundantly clear that I need to offer my life brokenly to Christ in this way. I couldn’t be more happy, or nervous, or ready.
During this past year, Ben and I have discussed where we want to raise our future kids. It’s not about the environment with the least amount of difficulties, because there will be trials and tears wherever we go.
After talking it over, we decided that yes we want camp to be the place where our kids grow up. Not because we believe it is the greatest place to raise children, but because this is the place where we are living out our lives for God.
Will we be perfect parents? NO. Will they feel some of the same pressures that I faced? Probably. Will I be able to protect them from judgement and hurtful things? NO.
But see, I won’t be able to do those things anywhere. I know that no place is the perfect place to raise my kids. I’m going to love my kids a lot. I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m going to do my best to nurture them. My kids and I will even be able to share our similar camp kid experiences, and that will be a unique opportunity.
Of all these things, the most important knowledge of all is that I finally know who I am. I am not a camp kid. Or a good kid. Or a Brock kid. Or a sheltered kid. I am a child of God, and there is my freedom!
I’m not bound by my experiences, my hurts, my good times, my bad times. I am not hemmed in by my last name or what people think of me. I am a child of God and He holds my worth. End of story.
In the past year, my heart has done a lot of breaking, a lot of mending, a lot of rediscovering, and yet here I stand—child of God—just as I’ve always stood before. But now, I choose to find my worth in Christ.
And it is more than enough.
I’ve discovered that it’s not about being brave or pioneering in something great and new. It’s about being broken on an altar every day, pleading with God to hold me here, because the only meaning I have in life is if I live it all for God.