Two memories stuck with me from my camp years.
I wasn’t thinking about it when I awoke with my family (including my seven and four year old) this morning at 5:30am. Our scheduled departure is 6:30am. Our company is 90 middle and high school students, and the support of 30 adult leaders. Our mode of transportation is two charter buses. Our destination is BigStuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!
Let’s just call it an eight hour ride. A couple hundred miles in, my mind finally comes to the realization of what is happening. Like the smell of sunscreen reminds me of the beach, the routine of getting to camp brings to mind my own camp memories. One of which I decide to pass on.
Memory #1: Girls painting my toenails while I am sleeping unaware on the bus. I had no idea. We made a pit stop at the gas station to reload with more junkfood and drinks. As soon as I stepped off the bus, a small group of girls were stared at me with this evil smile. I had no idea why, but I knew they were up to no good. Then I looked down. All ten toenails were adorned with black polish. I was punked. Twenty years later, and I still remember that moment. So, why not pass it on. So, I did. On the way to BigStuf Camp, I passed the toenail-painting-while-innocently-sleeping memory along.
Our students probably won’t be reading my blog, so don’t let them in on my secret. As far as you know, I didn’t do it.
As sticky as the toenail polish memory is for me, it wasn’t the kind that altered the trajectory of my life forever. The second memory did.
Memory #2: Responding to an invitation to let God use my life for good. I wasn’t doing bad things before this moment. I just wasn’t aware of the significance of God’s power in my life to create good in our world. My whole life up to this point revolved around hoop dreams. I was focused on earning a college basketball scholarship. All of a sudden, a preacher on a stage is asking me to consider how God can use my life to change the world. Then, he challenges me (us) to step forward as a sign that we are willing to accept that reality for our lives, right now. I did. And so did a girl that I barely knew. Twenty years later, and that same girl and I have spent 16 years as pastors together as husband and wife.
I hope each student this week at BigStuf Camp creates a fun memory that lasts forever. I also pray every one realizes their true worth and potential in Christ. I pray each one starts a journey on a trajectory guided by the redeeming love of God. I pray one experience becomes a defining moment worth changing the world for.
I believe it will happen. For some. For many.
What is your lasting camp memory?