What I’ve Learned From Living at Camp

It’s hard to sum up five years of life, but I wanted to try. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, and tying up of mental loose ends. I love that quote from the movie “Hitch” when he says, “You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

To get off to a good new start, I feel like I need to be intentional about figuring out what’s changed, what’s important, and what we’ve learned from our camp experience.

Here goes:

1) When things don’t go according to my plan, it means God is doing things according to His plan (which is always better!).

When Ben and I moved to Red Rock Bible Camp five years ago, we came with big dreams.

It was a time of feeling so alive, and anticipating the future with great expectation. We felt so ready for new challenges, and we had all these ideas of what we hoped would come out of our time at camp.

And then life happened.

Lots and lots of life!

As I sit here reflecting on the last five years, I can see that our time out here has been very different than what I expected, and that’s not a bad thing.

Although we’ve been blessed to see exciting things happening at camp, it has often felt as though God was teaching us a whole lot more than we were teaching anyone else.

Once, during a struggle we were facing here at camp, I said to Ben, “I was so sure God led us here because camp needed us.”

And Ben said, “Maybe God brought us here because we needed it.”

The lessons we have learned are huge, and we are different people than when we first came here. I don’t know how much it shows on the outside, but I feel different on the inside.

I needed this experience. And if we were able to do any good along the way, that’s awesome.

But at the very least, we were changed. We have seen God, and He has been good.

2) We were created for community.

We need to keep people close, but sometimes that cramps our style. It can be good, and it can be hard, but it is always rich.

I don’t always want to be in community, but I was still made for it.

I need to be in a setting where my rough edges are rubbing against other people, wearing me down. I need to be uncomfortable, I need to be kept from the perfect little world I would form around myself if I never had to deal with people.

There is so much love and growth and grace needed when we live in community.

I have not always appreciated this, but it will be one of the things I miss the most about camp. I will miss how easy it is for people to be part of absolutely everything I do, whether it’s doing the laundry, hanging out in our yard, or eating meals together every day.

The other afternoon, our family wandered into the backyard to find our neighbors doing spring cleaning. The entire contents of their shed were spread out over the yard, the kids were playing, the bonfire was going.

We hadn’t been planning a shed party, but we joined in, spurred on by their motivation, and spent a wonderful afternoon, working side by side. More camp families wandered over, and we ended the whole thing with a wiener roast.

And I sat there thinking, “I am going to miss this.”

3) It is all about discipleship.

We came to camp thinking we were passionate about discipleship. We leave camp knowing that we are. It’s what we want to do for the rest of our lives – we want to be mentored, and we want to mentor others.

We want to be part of deep, intense, honest relationships which challenge us to the point of discomfort, and cause us to learn and grow in the most unpredictable ways.

We have loved every relationship we could be a part of here at camp that reached this level, and we are so thankful for every staff member who went there with us.

4) God loves people more than trees.

I can hardly stand the thought of living my life away from the lake and the trees. It is so beautiful here, sometimes I think we’re completely crazy for leaving.

But we didn’t come here for the trees, and we can’t stay here for the trees, and it was always about the people, anyway. We have loved the people here at camp, but we are so looking forward to having relationships that are less “binge and purge” style – with people every second of the day in the summer, and isolated in the winter.

I have loved living in a never-ending vacation. Even taking out the garbage gives me a glimpse of the lake, and there you go: instantly on vacation.

photo credit: Victoria James

But seeing as it’s not about the lake or the trees, we will embrace whatever view comes next.

5) God, Family, Ministry.

Very early on in our marriage and our involvement with full-time ministry, we realized we would need to set some pretty serious boundaries in order to keep life somewhat balanced.

When we came to camp, it was our goal to continue on with those boundaries to protect our family time. Being here has helped me to see, more than ever, how important this is. Living where Ben works has brought a lot of challenges, but I am so, so thankful that as we leave camp, I get to take all my favorite people with me, and we love each other just as much as ever.

Our family relationships are healthy, and I don’t feel as though our family has suffered from this adventure. This last winter was very tough, with Ben’s involvement in the discipleship program and the traveling involved – we could not continue at that pace, but we’re leaving at a good time, family intact.

photo credit: Morgan Braun

God has blessed us in so many ways during these past five years, and I am very thankful for the experience we’ve been able to have. Looking back on everything, I would have to call it a success!

Up next on my list for mental processing: What makes me most nervous about moving back to civilization. I’ll write it, and see if it’s fit for the public or not! 😉

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3 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned From Living at Camp

  1. You guys are so cute! I have to tell ya, that I struggle with being with community because I hate that uncomfortable feeling. I just feel so out of place and another part of me is protecting myself from getting hurt or involved in some conflict. In my mind “people = trouble”. You are helping me think about getting out of my comfort zone. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Julie! I think if we go through the discomfort enough times, we start to see the value above the pain. I still feel out of place and awkward sometimes (a lot of the time??!), but I think lots of people feel that way. And I’m wondering if it’s one of Satan’s tricks to keep us from what we truly need the most!

  2. Pingback: Best Words Ever: “See You Tomorrow” | Ordinary Days

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