SUMMER OF SERVICE
Sep 15, 2017
“I thank God that He created me the way I am with all my differences to help serve Him & others.” - 2017 Camper
As each summer comes to a close, the feeling is bittersweet. The beach is no longer filled with kayaks & sand castles. No joyful songs are sung around the supper table. Sundays don’t include excitedly welcoming in new crowds of kids to camp while rocking the official UMM polos. Camp grows very quiet until retreat season begins. But the close of summer is also so sweet as we get to sit back in awe and reflect on the amazing things God accomplished in the 9 weeks of camp!
As campers arrived each week, they wasted no time jumping into the theme “At Your Service” and knew the memory verse, Mark 10:45, plus some silly actions before bed each Sunday night. They spent morning Bible Study exploring the ways Jesus served during His time on earth and how each of them has been called to serve as well. My favorite part about the service theme was during Monday’s Bible Study campers discovered that they each have been given unique gifts by God for a special purpose. They spent the rest of the week finding ways to use their God-given gifts to serve their cabinmates, counselors, the camp and considering how they can use their gifts back home to serve as well.
One week a third-grade boy came to camp very excited and also a little nervous. His first night he was homesick and ready to go home. The next day after trying out a few camp activities, doing the Bible Study and becoming friends with his cabinmates, he was ready to stay another night. This night, instead of being homesick, he used his gift of encouragement to help another boy who was now missing home. He shared “last night was my night to miss home, tonight is yours.” It’s amazing that in simple moments like this, God uses one day of camp to teach this young boy his gift of encouragement, allow space for him to put his gift into practice, and serve another boy whom he’d just met the night before.
There are countless stories like this that surface as we reflect on God’s handiwork at the end of each summer. Summer Staff learned they have been given the gifts of kindness and compassion, which they’d never believed until a child told them. Middle school girls showed courage to share their musical gifts at the talent show and received loads of applause as they finished their final notes. Young boys getting into fights and choosing to serve one another by praying for forgiveness rather than continuing to fight.
The stories go on and on and on. The best part is, they will continue to go on and on as God continues to be present in the lives all 1,470 campers back at home. We trust that their faith that was sparked at camp and will continue to burn bright as they use their God given gifts to serve the world around them.
- Hattie Carrier, Associate Director