Walking outside on a cloudy night, it’s difficult to see anything, if not impossible. A small security light in the distance ordinarily would seem so insignificant, but the darkness is so powerful the light becomes all the more. At first, the brightness seems to blind and overwhelm given its stark contrast. Given time, we adjust and the light now guides our way. As we round the corner of the building on which the light is mounted, we again realize its brightness in contrast, but this time as it leaves us and we re-enter into the darkness. Though are journey demands we continue on, we miss the light and frequently recall it as we turn our heads referencing it over our shoulder.
The unique opportunity that exists in Camp is that our existence is a beacon. We reflect the light of God to hundreds of young people. Their time spent here each year gives them a hope. It gives substance to their faith. Because faith is the evidence or substance of things hoped for. Life is hard. Figuring out life as a young person can be brutally hard. For a short time each year they become like the apostle John on the island of Patmos and live in the vision of saints, peers, gathered together singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy!" and they remember it. Here they experience freedom in their belief... comfort in their struggle. They experience the church in her glory as we have all things in common. They confess their sin and accept their forgiveness. They pray for deliverance. They experience heaven. Young people, like their adult counterparts, long for something bigger than themselves. They long to believe. And just like the man that came before Jesus, they cry out, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” In a world where the trees are constantly thrust in front of you, they struggle to see the forest. The vast love of God. Too young to know what questions to even ask for the answers they seek, they allow the world and its prince to convince them of lies they know are shallow and fleeting. What’s commonplace among their peers, and even sometimes their parents, is so shameful. But the more they indulge, the more scared their conscience becomes, and they begin to accept it as truth.
Camp exists because the young people shrouded in darkness need a guiding light that shines so brightly, they always remember where they truly reside. The songs that were shouted in desperation, in hope, in faith, and in praise ring in their ears just as loudly as they did when they were sung in the amphitheater that previous summer. The encouraging words spoken by their counselors and their newly made believing friends echo in their hearts. The words of the father, preached to them from His holy word beat in their heart by way of the Spirit living inside of them because of the everlasting commitment they made in response to his call. Camp exists because unity exists. Those who have been called according to his purpose ban together at this place. Camp stands alongside churches, youth ministries, and individuals to share the good news of salvation and to encourage each other as long as it is called today. Camp exists because God has blessed some by instilling gifts and desire as a part of the body to serve in this way. And in this unique way, we are able to draw young people out of the spiritual wilderness of this dark world into a physical wilderness that offers light - the true light.
"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5