Strong Rock is a much more than a camp. Tucked away in the North Georgia mountains, it is somewhere the most weary mind can find peace and solace, and not merely because of its breathtaking scenery. God’s presence can be felt upon entering the iron gates of Strong Rock Camp. Even when the summer season has come and gone, the laughter of children can be heard echoing throughout this great place if one listens closely enough.
Way back in 2007, God placed in me a desire to be a camp counselor. Initially, i was sure that God wanted me to serve at a camp that I heard about at a Christian rap concert. Alas, in classic fashion, I missed the application deadline. Some months later, i was told about a local camp that was actually started by a member of my church. That member is none other than the man, the myth, the legend: James Himstedt. Curious about a camp that had been sitting right under my proverbial nose, I contacted James as soon as I could. After the most relaxing job interview I’ve ever taken part in and weeks of waiting anxiously, just praying that the Lord’s will be done, I received an email from the man i now affectionately know as Rambo. “The job is yours if you want it”, it read. I did indeed, and became a member of an amazing staff. The following summer would be one that I would always cherish.
But wait, there’s more!
I planned (always dangerous) to return as a Strong Rock Counselor in 2008, but for various reasons, it just didn’t work out. Although I wasn’t on the 2008 staff.I continued to hang around camp from time to time, but who could blame me? I began working year-round retreats at Strong Rock, but did not return as a counselor. In the spring of 2010, I requested to meet with both directors, James and Daniel, to discuss the possibility of my return as a Strong Rock Counselor. The three of us met at the Zaxby’s in Cleveland, Georgia; I distinctly remember accidentally ordering a kickin’ chicken sandwich with spicy sauce, which to the amusement of both, made me tear up throughout our meeting. I love that James and Daniel are not just my employers, but my beloved brothers in Christ as well. After a heartfelt conversation about my desire to return to Strong Rock, we prayed together, and I was informed that they would continue to pray about bringing me back for the 2010 campaign.
This time around, I wasn’t really anxious about the process. I was confident that if God willed that I serve at Strong Rock, I would. It was that simple.
The 2010 summer is one that is permanently etched in my heart. God had a specific purpose for my presence on staff, and it was evident in the relationships that I formed with the staff and campers. God provided some amazing opportunities to share the Gospel and be an extension of his hands and feet throughout the summer. On top of that, I did so alongside an amazing group of people: every member of the Strong Rock staff (or family, as we like to call it).
The Strong Rock motto, so to speak, is “to inspire an abundant and purposeful life in campers.” This is what I’ve always kept at the forefront of my mind while serving at Strong Rock. Through the actions and words of Strong Rock Campers, God has spoken to and challenged me to maintain a childlike faith in Him. Jesus Christ is my hope for an abundant and purposeful life, and it is my joy to share Him with campers, so that they might know Him too. I am grateful to be a small part of a place where I’m encouraged to do just that.