The Impact of Camp

by Daniel Forkner, Brookwoods Alumni

I started going to Camp Brookwoods when I turned eight years old. I remember being unsure if I was really going to like this strange place that I would spend two whole weeks. I had no idea that Brookwoods would be one of the most impactful places of my life. Over 11 summers, I spent 52 weeks at Brookwoods, not including multiple Alumni Camps and Winter Reunions.

Building a fire is a great life skill.

One of the greatest parts of camp is the skills that kids learn. Throughout my years at camp, I learned many different skills that my friends from outside of camp seldom possessed. Some of these skills include: how to sail, use a band saw, water ski, wind surf, SCUBA dive, shoot a bow, shoot a rifle, rock climb, throw a Frisbee, build a fire, read a map and compass, catch fish, save lives, canoe through whitewater rapids, build a shelter, set up a tent (quickly in the rain), mountain bike, ride a horse, serve others, be vulnerable, teach Bible studies, and so much more. Without a doubt, there are other places that kids and young adults can learn these skills, but there is nowhere besides camp where they can learn such a bevy of diverse skills in the context of a Christ-centered outdoor experience.

Camp is definitely one of the most fun places on Earth. At the same time, camp is also incredibly challenging and stretching. There were periods at camp that weren’t necessarily ‘fun’, but those were the moments when I was learning the most important skills—those that build character. I learned focus and respect during Bible studies, and perseverance through immense knee pain on my 1st year LDP 6-day hike. I learned support, brotherhood, and community through talking about tough teenager stuff in the Ranger cabin during LDP, and I learned patience in leadership by being a counselor.

Woodchucks 2016, Daniel far right

The Holy Spirit moves powerfully and intentionally on camp’s sacred grounds; there is no place on Earth like it. One of the most impactful lessons that I learned at camp came during my last summer there, when I was one of the counselors in the Woodchuck cabin. I had thought long and hard about returning for another summer on staff and I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back. I did return, but towards the end of the summer I was overwhelmed, stressed, and doubting that I had made the right decision. At the Closing Campfire, campers have an opportunity to share with the entire camp something that they had learned and one of my campers stood up and said, “This summer I learned that Jesus Christ is my Savior.” I teared up. Foolishly, I was regretting my decision to work at camp. Little to my knowledge, God was working through me and using me in this camper’s life. In an instant, the hard work of being a counselor was worth every minute. God used me in bringing this camper into the saving grace of Jesus. In that moment, God reinforced the most important lesson—camp is not about me. Camp is about the Gospel. As Bob Strodel famously says during Staff Week, “The entire summer is worth it if one camper comes to Christ.” The impact of camp, camper and counselor alike, is life-changing. Come to camp, and experience it for yourself, you won’t regret it.

Daniel Forkner graduated from Wheaton College in 2019. He moved to Colorado Springs, CO where is he working in the financial technology industry. He’s spending as much time outside as he can, doing the things he learned at Brookwoods, like rock climbing, fishing and hiking! Find him on Facebook or email, dcforkner@gmail.com