This past year, I had decided to spend 5 weeks of my summer at Camp DeWolfe. At the time, I was hoping to go on a missions trip to El Salvador in July and another to Kentucky in August, but I was perplexed because the camp season ran straight through both of them. I could either serve people in foreign countries, or serve the people here at home (and get paid for it!). I ultimately chose camp in that I felt that God was leading me there, and that I needed to do something outside my comfort zone. Spending 5 weeks at a place with no AC in cabins and an average of probably 90+ degrees everyday did not sound that appealing, but when I thought of the awesome opportunity that God had placed before me, and the plans that he had for me, I knew what my choice was. I kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11, and the amazing and wonderful things God has in store for me. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared us for good things, through his workmanship. What better than to use my skills that God created in me to help others?
Before I knew it, I was to arrive at camp. I was and still am a youth leader for two youth groups on Long Island. Working with middle and high school kids has been my passion for a while, and it seems like God prepared me for the summer through the experiences I had with these groups. I frequently led worship at youth group, so I was excited to share this skill with the camp, helping youth that may have never sang a worship song out of joy and fun before, for the sake of glorifying the Lord. Just as camp started, all the staff were introduced to each other, and we were told of all the work/renovations that had been done to the camp throughout the past two years. I was astounded to hear that over a million dollars had been put into the camp and that this jewel on the north shore of Long Island was blessed with two servants hearts for camp directors; Matt and Emma. All the staff were constantly reminded of the verse 2nd Cor 2:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, The old has gone, the new is here!” How true that was for not only the camp, but for the lives of the staff and campers!
As camp training ended in a close, the camp DeWolfe staff became closer than ever. Two weeks of learning how the camp should run, including getting CPR trained, lifeguard trained, engaging in proper safety precautions, and the like, filled our days of those two weeks from the time we woke up until our time when we laid our heads back in our pillows. I have learned so much not only about my own faith, but about the faith of others, and the importance of the body of Christ coming together. The conflicting personalities and viewpoints of staff in the beginning, had conglomerated into a mesh of love, hope, trust, and faith- acknowledging the will of God in this camp and his presence in the things we did. We were truly ready for the campers to come.
I can honestly say that after the first week of camp I was exhausted. I still remember each of the names of my campers in G-1 and I especially remember the moments we had. Whether it was singing on our way to the campfire, to playing “The Green Glass Door” to the “Sevens” game, to “quack-diddli-oso” during cabin time every day after lunch. Who would have thought 10 girls could look up to a counselor so much? Devo (devotional) time was always my favorite at the end of the night, where we would all settle down in our pajamas, and we would study an aspect of the bible. One of my favorite verses to share is Phil 4:13, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” No matter where these kids are coming from, what problems they may have back at home, what conflicts they are ruminating over within their minds, they can let all of that go at the foot of the cross, and embrace God just as they are. What an amazing gift to be able to share this with the girls! I think that at some times, I forgot I was a counselor, as I hopped alongside them, enjoying the activities they were in, whether it was animal night, wilderness night, or a cardboard sailboat regatta. The kids weren’t at camp for long before I knew, “Wow, I am truly making an impact on these kids lives.” You are with them basically 24 hours a day, and they watch your every move just as you are watching them. A solid counselor with a faith and mindset that reflects Christ’s is one that will show these youth how important it is to put God as #1 in their lives.
As camp came to a close, and I now reflect upon this summer, I remember the joyous and exhilarating times I have had with the staff as well as the campers. As I led worship, it became the best feeling knowing these kids recognized the glory they are giving to God. As I taught the kids in my cabin about respect, the characteristics of a godly woman and how to have fun, I had such a passion to care for those wonderful girls, full of spirit and imagination. Finally, as I led the kayakers out on the sound, I felt such a drive to show the kids how they can navigate the water without any help from others. In solo kayaks, even the tiny 7 year old children had the ability to maneuver themselves through the current and waves. I think this situation can extend as a metaphor through our own lives as well. It may be difficult to pass trials and temptations by ourselves, and might get a tiny bit easier with friends and family helping, but we can truly maneuver and persevere through any situation if we have a strong relationship with God. (Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God).
by Jen Nelson,
Summer Camp Counselor and Kayak Instructor.