A few days ago during my week at Village Creek Bible Camp in Lansing, IA, I was asked to write a short paragraph or page about how camp has changed my life. Busy me never actually finished my assignment, but I sure didn’t forget about it. Instead I decided (past due) that I would write a post about it. Enjoy.
If I could sum up all the things I learned from camp, I would use the word revolutionary. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines revolutionary as “constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” To clarify, these are things that camp assisted me with, not necessarily were the only factors involved.
*Camp was revolutionary in my independence. When little 7-year-old Ally was off to camp for the first time, she cried on the bus ride. Seven days later, she was almost 100% more comfortable being away from her family, dogs, and bed. I was taught the important of who I am, making my own friends other than the ones I had in school, and being my crazy self. I was able to act the way I wanted when I was at camp and volunteer for silly dares and games.
*Camp was revolutionary for my discipline with the Lord. At the age of 12, I was again at camp. Most of the week I was isolated in my cabin with the flu. I asked my counselor what I could do while I was all alone, she suggested reading the Bible. While I wasn’t extremely excited about the idea, I followed her lead. As a book lover I took this special book and read my heart out. By Thursday, I was healthy again and able to share what I learned. At the campfire I told my cabin and the rest of the camp I was rededicating my life to Christ. I have always been so very encouraged and challenged at camp.
*Camp was revolutionary at my recognition of Jesus. I don’t live in a huge city, but I certainly don’t live on a farm. Small town Iowa was the first place I looked at the star-filled sky and almost directly saw Jesus. In the middle of a valley, surrounded by bluffs, a creek, and beautiful horses it wasn’t difficult to notice God’s masterpiece in nature. My eyes were also opened at camp to the recognition of Jesus through people. My vulnerable counselors shone a light into the lives of women following after the Lord’s heart. They gave me examples of Christ-followers striving towards their leader.
*Camp was revolutionary in my heart for service. Jumping ahead to fifteen-year-old me, I volunteered at camp. While that may not seem like a big leap of faith, it definitely was. Scrubbing dishes, watching children, and helping with various activities allowed me to focus my attention on my heart for people. I was willing to serve and love on others in a way I cherished, in a place I cherished. A short 5 years later, I cannot say my heart has changed much. This past week has revealed my open heart once again for that valley. I loved being a family assistant and witnessing families unite over a common thread, Jesus.
*Camp was revolutionary for my relationships. A wide range of relationships stem from a camp setting. I was introduced at Village Creek to a few different ones for the first time. First, the mentor/student. My counselors all taught me an incredible amount of goodness each summer. I was able to learn from them and be challenged by what they were laying before me. Secondly, short term friendships. A week isn’t a very long time to make soul mate friends, yet every summer I seemed to walk away with another friend. Whether or not I continued to be in contact for months or years later, I knew that we had shared something truly valuable for that one week. Lastly, shared-experience friendships. My dad and I attended father/daughter camp every winter for 8 years. Not only did the weekend grow us a little more together, but what we shared during that weekend meant even more. One weekend my dad taught me how to do trapshooting, another he taught me paint balling, another we took a trail ride, and yet another we planted a tree together. The very act of being together for a weekend was something of worth for a lifetime.
In conclusion, Village Creek is a place close to my heart. It has been revolutionary to not only my personal growth, but also my spiritual growth. I have and will cherish the great memories that are continually being formed at camp. It is such a special place. On my several hour drive to the valley this time, I was struck with the realization of the great ministry I have been blessed to be a part of. The name of Jesus has been spread throughout the midwest and beyond because of the influences of Village Creek Bible Camp. Camp has changed my life in tremendous ways, more than I could begin to describe.
[originally posted 8.23.2012]