North Carolina. July. Sometime in the mid-1980’s. Teenagers. So-so food. Guest speakers. Ceiling fans in the Tabernacle trying to make a dent in the heat and humidity. Bunk beds in old dorm rooms. The Snack Shack. Seeing friends from across the state that you hadn’t seen since last July. New boys – how could we not mention the boys?
These are my memories of youth camp in Colfax. I literally lived one mile from my youth camp and just couldn’t bring myself to stay overnight at camp when I could sleep in my own bed with air conditioning. But each morning I made my way to Shady Grove Camp and stayed until late at night. My parents must have either believed in youth camp or wanted to get rid of me for a while. Either way, they made sure I was there each summer. I wonder now if they knew the impact it would have on my life?
Worship. Bible study. Testimonies. Lives Changed. Youth Camp was where I first felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Where I learned that God had a purpose for my life. I still remember the first time I prayed over someone. It was at that altar in that old tabernacle……at youth camp.
In the years that followed I travelled with a group from my college and spent an entire summer at youth camps throughout the southeast. Every week it was a different camp. Some were nicer than others but one thing remained the same – lives of kids were changed at youth camp.
Why am I thinking of camp? Because 30 years later (wow I’m old!) I’m helping to plan a youth camp for 100 middle schoolers in Guatemala. There will be similarities. Bunk beds. So-so food. Fun activities. But there will be differences too. The music will be better. Some of these kids have never slept in a bed. Have never bathed in a real shower. Most of them will be thrilled with the 3 meals they will get because well, let’s just say, they don’t eat 3 meals a day.
The one thing I’m counting on is that like my youth camp in the 80’s – Jesus will show up. I’m believing that lives will be changed and kids will understand how much He loves them. I’m claiming that many of them will begin to understand their purpose and walk in the gifts that are freely given through the Holy Spirit. I have faith that they will hear Jesus well and get connected to a team of Guatemalans from our partner church that care about them and want to be a part of their lives.
The plans are being made. The leaders are in place. The team is preparing.
Now we just need the funds. That’s where you come in. If you ever went to camp – if God did something special for you – will you give to make it possible for a middle schooler in Guatemala? I wish I remembered the names of all of the youth counselors and speakers that God used in my youth camp days. I’d love to tell them how their investment changed my life. You may not meet our kids in Guatemala this side of heaven, but you can trust that God will use your gift to change their lives. You can give here.