BIBLE CAMP REFLECTIONS
Above, counselors at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp.
Thirteen Oles spent the summer as counselors, guides and supervisors at Bible and church camps through the Lives of Worth and Service program.On this, the fifth and last year of the Bible camp progam, we asked students to respond to the question: “Was this summer’s experience valuable and how did it relate to your sense of vocation?”
Luther Point Bible Camp
Despite the typical camp counselor struggle with sleep deprivation, mosquito bites, and comforting homesick campers, working at Luther Point Bible Camp is one of the most valuable life experiences I have ever had. Every day I was responsible to care for the daily physical, emotional, and most importantly spiritual needs of my campers. This required me to put my trust in God, knowing He would guide me through the difficult Bible questions or camper situations that I would be faced with every day.
This summer’s theme was “Listen, God is Calling,” and I believe that God called me to work at camp for a reason. There were two campers this summer who both made a significant impact on my life. The first camper didn’t know who Jesus was, what he did, or what his death meant. When she asked me about Jesus during Bible Study, I explained the biblical story of Christ’s sacrifice and what that means for us. I remember the look on her face: a look of amazement and happiness. The second camper approached me to tell me that her best friend had recently died. Although she was not own camper, I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to tell me this. Throughout that week, God was calling me to reach out to her in any way possible: to pray with and for her, to talk with her, to cry with her, and to hug her. Saying goodbye to her at the end of the week was very difficult. My experiences with this camper are always in my mind, especially now.
On July 31, the second to the last week of camp, I received news that my brother was in a car accident and had passed away. My experiences with my camper who had lost a friend became forefront in my mind. She had reached out for help and I knew that I needed to do so also. Through every struggle, I was surrounded by counselors who were willing to give advice, a smile, a hug, or prayers. By the end of the summer, they were more like family than fellow workers.
Through my experiences this summer, God is calling me to a vocation and has given me the skills I need to succeed. Four years before my brother’s death, he sustained a brain injury and due to this injury, I became a Psychology/Biology major with a Neuroscience concentration. I believe God is calling me to use my knowledge of brain injuries to work with children who have brain injuries. Camp has further equipped me with the skills I need to pursue this vocation. Through leading Worship, camp fires, Bible studies, and day camps, my speaking, leadership, critical thinking, and team-working skills have increased dramatically.
Working at Luther Point has changed my life. God called me there to spread His word to campers and to give me support and love when I needed it most.
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp
I had no doubt that my summer as a camp counselor would be a life-changing experience. Growing up attending Lutheran camp each summer, I had fond memories of my counselors and the impact that they had on the development of my early childhood. But nothing could have quite prepared me for what I experienced in my three months at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. This summer I was challenged to learn my role in a new and complex community, to instantly and comfortably adapt to change, to maintain a positive, supportive and calming attitude and to become confident in leading and teaching skills that, several months earlier, had been completely foreign to me.
My job this summer required me to be a leader 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many times my leadership quite overt: I led groups of high school students on week long sailing trips across flathead lake, was entirely responsible for cabins of girls of a variety of ages, and regularly organized and led worship. But my job required me to lead in many quieter ways as well, from cleaning the sailboats to spending a week preparing food in the kitchen.
Children were, of course, key to my vocational growth this summer. Through my work, I learned what it was like to give of myself completely and wholeheartedly. My campers needed me. They needed my guidance, my encouragement, my stability, my hugs and my high-fives. My counseling became more than a summer job—it became my summer life. I needed to be the same mentor and role-model to those kids at 3:00 in the morning that I was to them at 7:00 in the evening and at 1:00 in the afternoon. Enjoying this intense commitment, I realized that I was beginning to understand the power of vocation.
I experienced a lot of challenges at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. In the first three weeks alone I was pushed suddenly into proving myself as a leader not only in those things that came naturally to me, but also in those things which I had little previous experience. A city girl from mid-western Nebraska, I would have laughed at anyone who told me that I would spend my summer filtering water from streams, learning how to sail 26 foot boats, white-water rafting and backpacking in Glacier National Park. My eyes were opened this summer to many different paths of service.
Being a counselor at Flathead helped me to grow as a person in community with others: other counselors as well as campers. At FLBC I found a certain peace that was distinctly new to me. For the first time ever I felt as if my daily life and my faith life were able to come together as one. This centering allowed me to feel comfortable extending and challenging myself. It allowed me to learn a lot about my capabilities as a teacher, a leader, a follower and a guide. I have been strengthened in my sense of self and am more secure than ever in the comprehension of the role I play within a community. It is with this experience, growth and support that I will be able to continue to search for the best ways for my gifts to fit the needs of the world.
The camp bell sounded, prompting all staff to meet in the lodge where our director, Bob Quam, met us. We all sat down at the tables, anticipating what information he had to share. “Well,” Bob said, “the call did come.” Now one might ask, what kind of call was this? This call was not your ordinary call—it was a call to evacuate the Boulder Valley where our lovely camp Christikon resides.
Earlier that day, our last camp session ended and seventy-five junior high campers were picked up by their parents and returned to their homes. Following this, staff began cleaning up the camp and doing last minute service projects. Around 4:00 PM that afternoon, a few staff members saw smoke rising near Hick’s Peak—a mountain very near to camp. Bob met with us soon after, and said that we may be called to evacuate and that it would be a smart idea to begin gathering our personal belongings. Twenty minutes later, the call came.
The next hour and a half remains a blur. It was chaotic, emotional, and frightening. Around 7:00 PM, after cramming all of our belongings into about eight vehicles, we left camp and traveled down the Boulder Road. The sky was filled with shades of pink and orange—as beautiful as a sunset. However, we could not ignore the ever present smoky haze that engulfed the cars and trees surrounding us. Forty miles later, we arrived in Big Timber at the home of Elisa Steen, a former camper and staff member of six years. We gathered in her living room for a brief worship together and closed by singing Now Thank We All Our God. After all, we did have something to be thankful for.
It was difficult leaving camp three days early especially because we never had a real closing. The summer just ended abruptly, and in the blink of an eye I was back on a plane to Minneapolis.
Before I left for camp, I hoped that I would figure out if I wanted to work for the church. I cannot say I answered that question this summer, but I did make progress towards an answer. I realized that physics was not a major I wanted to pursue any longer, and upon returning to campus, I dropped it, leaving me as a math and religion double major. Working as a counselor this summer, I met many amazing people who have helped me understand who I am and what I am good at. After leading a five-day backpack in the pouring rain, I realized that I was capable of providing enthusiasm and optimism for a group of thirteen. I will never forget what my campers taught me this summer—that I do have a sense of humor; it is still cool to sing Spice Girls; and that I am capable of helping them grow in their faith. I was pushed out of my comfort zone by other staff, too. I was forced to re-learn guitar (something that I have not done since the 9th grade), asked to lead worship, and required to sit through two days of wilderness first-aid (and as a very squeamish person this was far from an enjoyable experience).
This summer I was called to be a camp counselor. We did not know if the call to evacuate camp would come; however when it did, we responded immediately and left. Similarly, I do not know when or even if I will be called to work for the church, but I will wait patiently and be open to the possibility. Right now, however, I am called to be a college student and to continue wrestling with these questions. Each day I get closer and closer to finding an answer. So, for the time being, I will just listen, for God is calling!
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp in Lakeside, Montana is an astonishing place that touches people’s lives. Working at FLBC for an entire summer has given me experiences and memories that I will never forget, especially because they had such a strong influence on my faith. Upon returning home, friends and family members asked me how my summer was. My response was the same each time. Excitedly, I told them that camp had easily been the best summer of my life. Undoubtedly a valuable and life-changing summer, my FLBC experiences have certainly affected my sense of vocation.
“Do you want to be a pastor now?” is another question that is frequently asked after I explain that I spent my summer at a Lutheran Bible Camp. People often find my answer to this question somewhat surprising. I tell them that camp has in fact solidified my decision that seminary is not the vocational path for me. Rather than pushing me towards becoming a pastor, my time at FLBC has instilled in me a desire to spend my life in service to others in perhaps a more covert way. The back of our staff T-shirts have written on them a quote by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” Because every part of a counselor's job involves serving others, this quote quickly became our theme of the summer. As time at camp progressed, I came to realize the complex and beautiful way in which the campers, pastors, fellow counselors and surrounding community were all a part of FLBC's ministry. Together we strove to show God's love through our every action, a vocational call of servitude that can be answered in any and every occupation.
Though the idea of serving others is not a new one to me, camp has helped me to view it as an even more urgent and necessary task. The idea of service comes from the Bible, directly from Jesus himself. He says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matt. 25:40 (NIV). Jesus’ teaching not only focuses on the gifts given to those being served, but, as I realized this summer, also reminds us that serving others is wonderfully fulfilling gift in itself. Service carries amazing power, and with that power comes the ability to change the faith of both the servant and the served. Just as I know that I changed the lives of the people to whom I ministered this summer, so too do I know that my life and faith have been changed in my being a servant to others.
As a result of last summer, my sense of vocation has been directly shaped by the idea of service. I see vocation as the area where my talents and passions line up with a need in the world. Believing that the Lord is ever-present in our passion for service to others, I find comfort in knowing that my faith will guide me on a path of servitude through whatever career I choose. If everyone lived with intentionality, with the objective of serving God through service to others, drastic changes would occur in all of our lives. This idea of service and vocation has helped to shape my sense of purpose, and I credit these changes to my experiences at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp.
Camp Carol Joy Holling
I went back and forth on the decision to return to camp this summer. I knew that it was my last summer before graduation, and having been a counselor for two summers already, I was wondering if it was time for something new. Nevertheless, I ended up accepting a position as the site manager of Tipi Village, for 4th-6th graders, Camp Carol Joy Holling. My decision to go back to camp was a very intentional one. I thought that camp would be the best place for discerning a possible call to be a pastor. Over the years I have developed a particular interest in ministry to people with disabilities. The answer that I received at camp surprised me.
I had been a counselor for the two prior summers, but this was my first experience as a site-manager. My new position entailed layers to camp I had never seen before. My biggest challenges included dealing with abuse cases and helping to integrate children with disabilities into our programs. Honestly, I felt a little inadequate at this job. In the past I had always felt like I could get through just about anything with sheer enthusiasm. This summer I found myself wishing that I had a wider knowledge base regarding these situations. What were these kids experiencing? What tools were at my disposal to help them?
We had two occupational therapy students on staff. I was so impressed by the way that they handled situations. They were continually referring to things that they had learned in their training, and applying it to helping the kids at camp. The advice that I received from them was absolutely invaluable. Working with them and seeing the insight they had already gained in working with people through their profession reignited what I thought was a dormant interest in the field. Ever since the 8th grade, when I did a report on it, I had considered occupational therapy as a career. I had even gone into St. Olaf as a bio major assuming that I would go on in healthcare. This summer helped me realize while that I do one day hope to go to seminary, first I would like to go to OT school. I see OT to be an incredible type of ministry, which empowers people to live out their lives as they so chose.
I am very grateful to the Lilly Foundation for making my summer at camp possible. I’m still in shock that I’m busy filling out OT school applications as opposed to Seminary ones, but I am so comfortable and excited about the upcoming adventure.
Anna E. Johnson
EWALU Camp and Retreat Center
Camp is one of the defining experiences of my life. I was never an outdoorsy kid and I don't believe I would have been a good camper, but being camp staff is the most significant thing that has ever happened to me. I began as a counselor in training and have now spent four summers at camp. Weal's mission statement is: a place apart to connect the Word of God with the world of God. I have never heard a mission statement that made sense and was intrinsically true of the place except this one. EWALU is a place that has no description in the "real" world. It is a place that truly seems to exist only in the kingdom of God. So many counselors, volunteers, even campers feel that coming to EWALU is like coming home and I am one of them.
This year's experience was a little different than the last. EWALU began offering day camps to churches in the Northeastern and Southeastern Iowa synods as a church building program. As a result there were many more day camps this year and I went to many of them. I had worked on day camps or VBSs before, but these were different for me. I enjoyed these immensely; and even working with younger children, which was not something I previously sought out, was an excellent endeavor for me. I spent more time in churches than around campfires but I learned much more about the churches and I saw how different churches handle the planning and production of the day camp. I saw a tiny church with extraordinarily enthusiastic people that struggled to get enough kids. I saw a church that had done this every year and kids that knew the songs better than we could teach them. I saw a town of 500 combine the Catholic and Lutheran churches and get 80 kids to come. In every town was a different experience.
Part of these different experiences was the host families, or the families that welcomed us for dinner. The amount of people that are genuinely ecstatic to have you over and really want to know where you go to school and how you ended up a camp counselor is astounding to realize. Each person was different to get to know and each had some interesting story and amazing food to offer. To spend time talking to adults and to families during the summer, instead of cooking out with their children was a different type of community. That one night of community with a family or a church group or someone from the congregation that just wanted to be involved was as enlightening as dinners with campers.
A week with campers taught me so much this year, but my weeks of day camps taught me so much, too. I feel like the whole summer was a learning experience preparing me for something. I don't know what and I don't know when I will find out but I know that I will use the things I learned this summer for the rest of my life.
Amy Behrens, St. Olaf College
Wilderness Canoe Base
I gazed out at a wintry display of snow being whirled up, down, and sideways by erratic gusts of wind. I tried placing myself in a different time and place as Jedidiah Scharmer posed a pivotal question: “Okay, Amy, I’m asking you for real. Do you want to be a canoe guide at Wilderness Canoe Base this summer?” “Yes!” I replied, and felt myself overtaken by the wild and exultant anticipation that would carry me through the school year’s end and towards the beginning of my summer adventure.
My excitement was interrupted in early May, when I heard that the Ham Lake Fire had wiped out over half of the buildings at Wilderness Canoe Base. Fishhook Island, where the camp was located, was largely scorched, as was the area around it. Doubt took a place in my vast array of emotions. I had been mentally preparing myself to enter into entirely new territory, but now I would be learning how to rebuild a camp in addition to gaining the wilderness canoe skills required for leading high school students into the unknown.
I was overwhelmed by the turn of events and worried that I wouldn’t have the chance to use my gifts for service. What I didn’t know was that the summer would cultivate my sense of optimism, determination, supportiveness, and adventure, and that God would be doing a “new thing” in me just as He was doing with the fire-ravaged canoe base. My sense of vocation was expanded and refined as I hauled logs, burnt building remnants, and canoes, asked deep and difficult questions with the teenagers I led, and actively experienced the wild beauty of the Boundary Waters.
My first month at camp reaffirmed my instinctive feeling that the summer was going to be a challenging one. After our basic training in wilderness first aid, water safety, canoeing techniques, and CPR, the maintenance team put all of us to work cleaning up camp. Our work days were full of hauling logs for temporary structures, sifting through the remains of cabins, saunas, the trail shack, and the first aid building for nails and metal scraps, smashing concrete foundations with sledgehammers to prepare for rebuilding, and getting covered with soot and ash daily.
My job description certainly hadn’t including these laborious, tedious tasks, and at times I got discouraged. But part of God’s plan for us is to derive joy from every situation and share that joy with others. Over the weeks of work projects, we constantly encouraged each other, sang as we worked, laughed, and posed interesting questions to one another. I learned that physical labor, for all of its discomforts and tedium, brings on an immensely satisfying weariness. And all of the seemingly thoughtless tasks gave me an opportunity to explore new thoughts and questions. These discoveries served me well on the canoe trips that made up the rest of my summer.
Guiding canoe trips turned out to be of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Every week I paddled a Montreal canoe from our cove at the end of the Gunflint Trail to Fishhook Island with a new group of high school students who were filled with the same exhilarating anticipation I had experienced before my arrival. I loved playing off of their energy, putting some of their qualms to rest as I explained the upcoming adventure, and perusing the huge map of the Seagull Lake area with them to plan the perfect route.
Traveling through the wilderness challenged all of us. Long, rocky portage paths, over-repeated C- and J-stroke lessons, and finicky camp stoves challenged our patience. Powerful winds and aluminum canoes challenged our strength. Soul-searching questions around the campfire challenged our assumptions about God and His will for us. All of these challenges were as richly, deeply beautiful as the clear waters, lofty granite cliffs, and vibrant forest that surrounded us. I discovered new lakes, campsites, and methods for cooking fry bread, but more importantly, I discovered that I love experiencing, guiding, and supporting others through the challenges of the wilderness. I love loving people—leading by example in a beautiful but difficult landscape.
God used me in unexpected and wonderful ways during my summer as a guide at Wilderness Canoe Base. Perseverance led to hope, adventure, and discovery—elements that I always want present in my life. I was blessed by this chance to teach, support, encourage, and learn from fellow staff members and campers. Often I find myself gazing out at a St. Olaf autumn scene and imagining myself in another time and place once again, with a blue sky above me, a smooth lake before me, and a paddle in my hands. My vocation is not necessarily place-specific, though. I continue living it out through constantly new challenges and discoveries on the hill.
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp
I walked into a cabin of nine girls crying for different reasons. The prayer service had stirred the emotions of my eleven and twelve year old campers. While quickly preparing for bed, I thought the girls would settle down, as my last cabin had. Instead, I walked into the most frantic emotional situation of my life. The girls needed to move to a place of peace. I led the nine sobbing girls down the gentle hill of cabins towards the lake, my place of peace. Surrounded by the steady waters, the girls and I sat in a circle on the dock. I said a prayer for us and then asked if anyone wanted to share anything. Katie bravely told of how her dad suffered a serious illness around when she was four, reflecting the theme that we all live through tough situations, but we have prevailed. My campers cried in each others arms, moaned phrases, and moved out of the circle. I took a deep breath and started asking each girl, one by one, if she had anything she wanted to share. One by one, each girl’s story tugged at my heart strings. They had felt pain beyond my experience: one girl felt unwanted by her non-existent birth father and had attempted suicide, another, adopted after living in an abusive group for her first five years, dreamt of her present parents killing her, the next girl told that her father called her when he was drunk and did not understand why he hurt her so, and further stories of broken families, death, and instances where they had needed maturity far beyond their eleven or twelve years. I was taken aback by the situations these girls had lived through. Each girl had suffered more than I. I listened as the novice. After drawing peace from one another and the water, the girls snuggled into their sleeping bags, comforted.
Why had these beautiful creatures suffered so much pain? Empathizing with my camper’s experiences was impossible. Yet, I could love them. My campers taught me that behind every face is a past that I will not be able to guess or completely understand. Yet, I do know that each person needs love. That night taught me a lot about love: about how a lack of love in a person’s life is detrimental. Furthermore, it seems to me that love is the closest to a cure. In my future, I feel called to work in administration of a humanitarian organization, perhaps on a global scale. I will meet many people that I may not be able to empathize with, but I can try to care for them. Love shows itself by treating others with kindness and respect. The beauty of love is that, though we may not understand who we love or how love works, love brings people together and makes life worth living.
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp
Birds chirp from their perches within the tall ponderosa pines; the wind softly rustles the tall grass, tickling the back of my neck and legs and causing small goose bumps to form on my arms; the sun is just peeking over the majestic peaks of Glacier National Park into the vibrant pink sky. I stretch after having come back from an early morning run, observing the high school aged campers still peacefully curled up in their sleeping bags and letting myself be mesmerized by the river keeping up its constant pace 10 yards below where I stand. This is the river that I will guide a raft down for several hours today, experiencing ever more the intricacies of nature, the tranquility of a calm stretch of river, the adrenaline rush of guiding the raft over a course of rapids. I anticipate the excitement of engaging in at least a few battles between our three boats –- certainly being pulled overboard and perhaps being taken prisoner –- and learning more about these cool and talented high schoolers from the youth group and choir of Ascension Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, California. Fully appreciating the last few moments I have to myself this morning, I contemplate my life, my future, and the gift that I have been given for the summer.
Working at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp was incredible. It being my second summer on staff, I understood the general, big-picture experience that was waiting for me. The details, though, are what made every moment of the summer so completely filled with joy. Being surrounded by this year’s FLBC staff was a true blessing. The opportunity to work with and get to really know such inspiring people is a rare gift.
It was incredibly invigorating to be actively participating in the natural world again. Seeing such delicate streams, powerful waterfalls, dramatic valleys, and majestic mountains renewed my sense of wonder and absolute joy at being alive and a part of the amazing creation in which we live.
The variety of experiences I was given, spending five intense days with a group of campers doing everything from camping and rafting to putting on a day camp in a small Montana town to working with a youth group to clear trails for the Forest Service. I made it through a week working in the kitchen unscathed, hung upside down 50 feet in the air on the high ropes course, and led groups of campers on short hikes to points overlooking Flathead Lake to talk about life and the Bible (and to see if we could see the Flathead Lake monster). I was challenged in new and exciting ways on a daily basis.
One of the most meaningful aspects of the summer, though, was the development I was able to see in my own abilities to work with kids. Each week was brimming with laughter, playing, singing, Bible studies, comforting campers at 3:00 in the morning… and always more laughter. And, although I had a handful of very challenging campers over the course of the summer – one with Asberger’s syndrome, one who is developmentally delayed and has learning disabilities, one who simply would not stop talking, one who was in constant need of attention and so cried about being homesick for the entire week. I can honestly say that I loved every one. I was able to see each as a wonderful being with unique talents and strengths. I learned to simply laugh at situations I found myself in, instead of taking things personally or getting frustrated. I may not know what experiences people have had in the past or what they are dealing with internally, but I can love them here and now, and that is what is important. Seeing myself grow in this regard from my first summer to my second was cause for joy in itself, and this new ability and outlook resulted in much greater happiness on a daily basis.
This summer, I learned more about myself and further developed a vision for my future. I want to work in an environment that fosters community, I want to work with kids, and I want to be able to help people and make a difference. Although I have had these ideas for a while, this summer solidified them for me. And so, as I am entering the professional world of education and student teaching this semester, able to work with kids and try to make a difference for people, I challenge myself daily to exhibit grace, find joy, and love others in all that I do.
Wilderness Canoe Base
It would be a lie to say that working as a canoe guide at Wilderness Canoe Base for a summer is nothing but pure joy. For starters, the thought of being solely responsible for the lives and happiness of eight strangers out in the middle of the wilderness is not what I would call a calming thought. On countless occasions my love for the people I paddled with and the adventures we undertook was solidified. But on every trip, there was always the occasion when the doubts arose and I questioned why I ever thought being a canoe guide was a good idea.
I soon learned that my campers were having similar doubts the first few days of their trips. To most people, the thought of portaging heavy canoes, paddling long distances, sleeping with rocks digging into hips, and fighting off swarms of bugs does not sound like a fun week at camp. Some guides are fortunate to get an experienced group. Mine, however, were green to the ways of canoe camping. Needless to say, the first few days on trail were always a little rough.
By witnessing several groups of people go through the emotions of a week on trail, I have come to realize that the purpose of a Boundary Waters canoe trip is to be pushed and pulled. It is to be presented with challenges, and fail. But also succeed. It is to learn that you cannot do everything. It is to learn to ask for help. It is to understand that you are a part of something much larger than yourself – something spiritual and something environmental. It is to realize that Romans 5 speaks the truth: challenges give way to endurance, character, and ultimately hope.
At the end of each trip, I filled out an evaluation that asked me to describe the most successful aspect of the trip. Maybe to some guides, the success of a trip lies in going long distances or catching fresh fish for dinner. I thought about writing down instances such as these, but every week I came to write the same word: empowerment. To me, the success comes from individuals discovering what their gifts are, from seeing people test their limits and succeed, and from witnessing a group of people leave the northwoods with a deepened sense of community and an intrinsic understanding of agape.
Witnessing each of my groups make a transformation such as this, I solidified my desire to work in a community-based field. Maybe I will follow through with my current plan and end up working in a public school, or maybe I will forgo formal teaching and work for a community organization. Regardless of what happens, I know that the lessons I learned in community-building, empowering individuals to discover and use their gifts, and turning challenges into positive experiences will carry with me. As wonderful as my summer was, I have realized that it is, in fact, the physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles that had the deepest impact on my fellow paddlers and me.
Sugar Creek Bible Camp
This past summer I worked as a counselor at Sugar Creek Bible Camp in Ferryville, Wisconsin. It was an amazing three months, and I am deeply indebted to the Lilly foundation for making it more feasible for me to spend a summer in service.
The experience of being a counselor was most certainly a valuable one. The directors, my peers, and the campers themselves all taught me numerous lessons about faith, relationships, and myself. Being that Sugar Creek is a Bible camp, my faith was probably affected the most by the experience. Every day of the week I led or participated in a bible study, a worship service, a devotion, and numerous prayers and praise songs. Just the sheer abundance of Christian activities caused many of my doubts, fears, and questions concerning faith to resolve. I was also able to freely discuss many of my difficult questions with the community of other counselors over the weekends.
This community was another of the most valuable aspects of the summer. Living with the other counselors and going through many emotionally trying weeks with them created a wonderfully caring and close community. Although I was only with them for three months, many of the friends I made at camp are closer than friends I made during a year of college, or twelve years of grade school. I may very well never see many of my fellow counselors again, but the community we created was something memorable, and has perhaps taught me something about how to create and maintain loving relationships.
My summer has also had a strong impact on my vocation. Although my plans for a career have not changed – I still hope to become an architect – Sugar Creek has helped to resolve many aspects of my intended vocation. At camp I reconfirmed my love of working with, helping, and teaching other people. Even if I do enter the business world as an architect I hope to find some way, at some point in my life, to get the chance to teach. In whatever my job is, I want to avoid being tied to a computer; I hope to work face to face with members of the community as much as possible. Camp has also given me the desire to incorporate voluntary service into my vocation. I don’t yet know what form service will take in my life, but my desire to serve others was strengthened by my service at camp. Finally, I became resolved to make the protection of the environment a primary concern in my vocation. Sugar Creek is contained in a small valley in the hills of Wisconsin, and the natural beauty is often overwhelming. I have always cared strongly about the environment, but this summer helped to turn that caring into a commitment.
Thanks to the help of the Lilly Foundation, this summer has been an exceptionally valuable experience that will affect nearly every part of my life. Despite many emotionally and physically trying weeks, it was well worth the difficulty, and remains a strong possibility for next summer as well.