Guest Author: Madeleine Schlenz, Camp nurse (and camp mom!)
“Hey son, what are you looking forward to at camp?”
“Well, yeah, I knew that, but besides activities, what are you excited for?”
“I love that everyone starts with a clean slate. You can be yourself without any baggage from school or anywhere else and since no one has a phone, no one knows who you are.”
You know, sometimes teenagers can say profound things.
Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost offer days full of outdoor activities, enjoying the sunshine, and water fun at the lake. These things often fill the stories we hear from our kids as they relay their camp experiences to us. But the best thing about camp is the friendships they make and the opportunity to relaunch themselves in a Gospel-fueled environment that encourages fresh starts and new beginnings.
In our current cultural moment, it’s very difficult to reset your life — to change, or to appropriately ask forgiveness for a past sin or wrong. We hold people to all their faults, and now that everything is chronicled online, it is impossible to escape the past.
And yet, extending mercy is a task modeled by God and given to Christians. In God’s economy, mercy has and ALWAYS will triumph over judgement. The beauty of the Gospel allows us to keep returning and taking the Lord up on His offer to forgive and begin again. We can be cleansed of past sin and walk in newness of life.
Camp provides fun, adventure, and friendships with people we might never otherwise meet. But for many kids, camp is also a safe place to begin again, to be renewed and not have to live under the reputation that they’ve built for themselves over the year at school or with their families.
These past 15 months have allowed many of us to see how we handle disappointment, how we cope, what we turn to for fulfillment, or as a means of escape; but, as we move toward a more post-COVID life, we have a glorious opportunity to determine what patterns will go and what will stay. God offers us all a daily fresh start through the gospel that allows us to experience true and lasting peace and joy which we can then extend to others as well. And that’s where a Christian is light years ahead of the culture.
Incoming Day is in just two days! So, as you prepare your sons and daughters for camp—packing toiletries, bedding, and all the fun extra things—remember that God can do A LOT in two weeks, including changing hearts. You have the opportunity to prepare them for something wonderful, and that doesn’t have to stop on “Outgoing Day.” A fresh start offers the opportunity to come home and establish new patterns, find new ways to respond to others, and begin new habits individually and as a family. As I drop my kids off at their cabins, I will be praying that they discover anew that God’s faithfulness and steadfast love are never ceasing and His mercies are truly new every morning.
See you Incoming Day!
Madeline and her husband Jeff live in Annadale, VA and they had three campers at Brookwoods and Deer Run this summer, Benjamin, Christopher and Karisa. Before coming to Brookwoods and Deer Run she served on the medical team at Camp Sandy Cove in WV. Her favorite thing to do at camp is fellowshipping with the larger body of Christ and being reminded of God’s involvement in different parts of the world, as well as enjoying the super amazing slushies in the Camp Store. Visit her blog at TurnAside.org (it’s a work in progress :-).