I have talked with many people over the years about why camp has played such an important role in my life. For over 20 years I have thought of seasons as Fall, Winter, Spring, and Camp!
It is difficult to describe in a sentence what makes camp so fantastic. Any long-time camper or staffer understands it, but may also have a difficult time describing it. It has been my experience that camp has a kind of magic you just don’t find in the “real world.”
For me, being in a camp environment brought out the real me. I grew up going to school and even to church with mostly the same people since kindergarten, and felt I had been pigeon-holed into a certain social class. I wasn’t one of the popular kids, and I was terrified of being in front of a crowd, usually because I thought looking dumb in front of my peers was a fate worse than death. At camp I was free to be myself and others didn’t put me into my usual niche. I learned that there was nothing better than belting out a silly song in front of the entire camp, usually even accompanied by a crazy dance. I gained incredible amounts of confidence, developed leadership abilities, made friends for life, and most importantly got to spend a great deal of time with Christian role models without the distractions of every day life. What a way to grow in faith, and to develop a walk with Jesus! Everything I learned carried over into non-camp life, and it changed me forever.
Surveys have been conducted by professional camping organizations, and one that I remember specifically followed campers into young adulthood. Most of them said they found “the real me” at camp, and eventually who they were at camp simply became who they were. That is what happened to me.
No monetary value can be placed on what camp gave me. I see it happening to campers right before my eyes each summer. God sent me to camp at just the right time in my life. Back then I thought my parents sent me, but now know without a doubt it was God’s plan. I’ve pondered how different my life might have been without camp, and besides the obvious possibility that my career would probably be different (i.e., no Strong Rock Camp!), I truly believe the path to discovering the “real” me would have been a much longer and more circuitous one.
It is a humble privilege to get to be a part of life-altering experiences for others here at Strong Rock. I am excitedly anticipating this summer…Spring is nearly over, Camp is almost here!