Anxiety started to encompass me as I sat in the backseat of my parents’ car on the long trip through the mountains. The dark hole of dread that filled my stomach became larger the closer that we got to our destination. I wanted to turn back. The thoughts of not knowing anyone; the thoughts of a week without my parents and friends ran through my head. What was I going to do? I knew this was going to be the worst decision of my life. I wanted to cry; yet the car kept moving forward.
We pulled up to the front gate area where there was a young teenage girl welcoming us to the mountain. As she talked to my parents, I wondered how someone could be so happy about a week away from parents, friends and TV. My anxiety was at its height as we pulled around to the area where I would be staying. It took all the strength I had to get out of the car with my parents.
At check-in, there was another warm welcome from another teenager that reflected the first, but I was told this person would be with me the whole week and would show me the ropes. My tension started to ease as she talked about the area and what we would be doing this week. I found my cabin, and my parents helped me get settled. Then, I met her. Her name was Angela, and she looked more nervous than I. It was her first time at camp, too. We quickly became friends, and I barely said bye to my parents as I rushed off with Angela to play games and meet the rest of our cabin group.
During the rest of the week Angela and I were inseparable. We were busy every moment. We had Bible studies but not just the boring, sit and listen to the pastor talk Bible studies. They were interactive, and we got to act out scenes from different stories and do activities that related to the stories. We ran around playing games, making crafts, swimming and doing all kinds of things I couldn’t do at home on a typical summer day.
But this week wasn’t just about the activities I got to do. There is something about this week that changed my life. I felt the Holy Spirit on that mountain. I saw a community that God brought together for a week that represented the Body of Christ for me. I saw Christ working through the staff, counselors and campers as everyone was included and accepted and cared for.
The last night when we sat around the campfire and sang songs about how great our God is and how God does awesome things, I remember tears coming to my eyes because I knew that I would never be able to recreate that moment. Never again would I have those same people surround me, and never again would I feel so close to God.
Now, after twenty years of going to camp, I know that even though I can’t recreate that first camp experience that the Holy Spirit still shows up. Even though I lost contact with Angela long ago, I have friends that I met at camp throughout the years that have stayed with me. They are my best friends. And I still feel the closest to God on that mountain.
Come join me this year, July 12-18 at Lutheridge. www.novusway.org