We think you'll be encouraged by these reflections from some of our students who attended CAMP recently.
Hello, my name is Sophia Steele, a recent graduate from Fresno High School. I got to go to two camps in row this month: Wildwood as a super senior student and then Sugar Pine as a Jr. High counselor! (Sophia is in the front row, far left in the photo below.) At Wildwood, the Lord helped me realize I’ve been bottling up some worries and stress, especially about the future. He surrounded me with a loving counselor to listen to me and talk with me and help me surrender things to Him. At Sugar Pine, I felt the blessings that came immediately after surrendering to Him. I felt His presence and peace and realized I forgot what a good, loving Father He is. He grew me in my trust in Him, and He equipped me to lead my girls in ways only He can. I got to see these girls that were so different from each other grow together as sisters in Christ, and I got to see them intentionally choose to seek after Jesus and recommit their lives to Him! I learned more from them and from being a counselor than being a student at camp a week earlier.
Overall, Jesus reminded me that He truly is the living water, and I think camp is a special environment where we can really become overflowed with His love. How is God so good and perfect in His plan? I don’t think I’ll ever understand, but I love it and I’m beyond words when I get to experience it.
I am Emily Hartsell, 15 years old and going into my sophomore year of high school. (Emily is the girl with the hat in the photo below.) This summer I was a part of the Albania team. The first week we helped set up for the summer camps and I was on the decorating team. I do not think of myself as artistic or talented with any sort of creative ability so I felt challenged with our assignment. But God worked through me and my team and we made some amazing posters and signs. It was incredible! I can now say that I do not feel incompetent when it comes to being artistic.
Another thing I struggled with was communicating with people. I love to talk, and I just love meeting new people. It was really awesome that the staff spoke English but the second week we had the Erseke kids in camp and none of them spoke English. I was working with younger children so I was very frustrated when all I could do was say no and use facial expressions. I eventually learned how to use my actions to show people the love of Jesus Christ even when I can't verbally convey it. Despite the few things I struggled with it was a huge blessing to meet the people I did and I had some amazing conversations during our daily ice cream trips! Just being in the atmosphere was so heartwarming I didn't want to leave!
But I did, and back in the US, I went straight to Wildwood camp at Hume Lake where the theme was to GO. I definitely felt God in that! Camp was a good time for me to reflect on Albania; still, there were many, many things I had a hard time doing. We were never allowed to know the time and we were told something was happening 5 minutes before it would happen. As a crazy organized scheduled person, I was going insane! There was a long period of time in the mornings where we were alone in the forest with just us and our Bibles and it was hard at first to stay focused the whole time. By the end of the week I loved my alone time with God. The first few days I didn’t like it, but after Wednesday & Thursday night I knew exactly why God had called me to camp.
Wednesday for dinner we were given what people eat in different countries a day. I was “in” Guatemala and for dinner we had a spoonful of beans, a spoonful of rice and dirty water. Other tables were similar but the America table was overflowing with food. The staff then threw away how much food Americans waste and everyone sat in a shocked silence. Dave Hanson spoke that night which was amazing. Thursday the staff ran a simulation that put us out into the forest at night and showed us what it was like to be persecuted in countries where it is not legal to be Christians. It was a terrifying, eye opening and a life changing experience.
Before going to Albania I was kind of wondering if missions was what God was calling me to, and then at camp, we read Matthew 28:19-20 and I was awestruck. It reads, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." I realized that I didn't need to wait for a call, God had given me one ages ago! As a person I have grown so much more confident and have an even stronger faith in God’s goodness, grace, and love. I just love all the new brothers and sisters in Christ I met and I can't wait to see how God will challenge and shape me throughout the rest of my life!