This Thursday evening I will be traveling down to Arkadelphia, AR to have a planning meeting with some of my favorite brothers and sisters in the Lord. You see, every summer since I started college, save the summer right after I graduated, I've spent a week in the middle of July counseling church camp.
Barton Bible Camp, owned by the Murfreesboro Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, AR, it is a rather small church camp down near Daisy, AR on the beautiful Lake Greeson. Not the most convenient plac e to be...it's pretty remotely located. Not the most relaxing place to be...if you know anything about junior high aged kiddos. Not the coolest place to be...and I mean "cool" in its more traditional usage...because last summer there was a thermometer that was in a shaded place and...no exaggeration...it read 104 degrees! Not the nicest campgrounds...I've been to much nicer facilities...you know, ones with air conditioning in all the buildings, not just the cabins; ones with swimming pools, rather than a lake which requires a 1/2 mile hike down a jagged, steep hill (which can be very dangerous in the dark, btw) just to baptize someone into Christ. And, frankly, now that I am no longer in college, my time is much more limited. There are no more summers off, and I could think of many other things I could be doing with my precious vacation time.
Did I mention that Barton is absolutely my favorite place in the world to be? Sure, it's remotely located! That just means that when we roll into town (if you can call it that) on the Saturday before camp begins, we know we will find a packed house at a little diner (which, if I'm not mistaken, is the only eating place in Daisy) called Gayle's. Not to mention that Saturday night at Gayle's is "Karaoke Night!" (I've got an awesome story about Gayle's, if you're interested, lemme know, and I'll share it w/ya..what a small world it is!) Sure it's not the coolest place in the world! That just means you'll appreciate the swim in the lake that much more! Sure, the facilities aren't as nice as they could be! But who cares when you spend the majority of your day outdoors anyway, whether participating in sports activities with the kids or sitting outside in the midst of His glorious creation, praising Him and worshipping Him for it! And sure, it's not the most relaxing place to be either! But that's okay when you're surrounded by such vibrant kiddos with so much energy it's contagious. Who needs sleep when you can spend your days teaching precious young souls more about Christ and you can spend your evenings till the wee hours of the morning visiting with precious brothers and sisters in the Lord that you only see a few times a year!
And sure, I suppose there are other things I could be doing with my precious vacation time. However, I've got a spot in my heart for church camps of any kind. They played a big part in my spiritual walk with God when I was younger. I was even baptized at a church camp!!! As a camper I always thought, "I can't wait to be able to be a camp counselor!" Now that I've done that, I've walked in those shoes, I can only say that sentiment is a million times stronger! I long for this week of every year to roll around, where I can spend my time reaching out to kids at such an age where they are just beginning to learn what faith really is; when we, as counselors, can help them to realize the abundant life that God has in store for them, if only they'll trust in Him; when I can see kids come into our camp year in and year out each summer for several years and watch them put their faith in the Lord and then grow to love Him. Funny, I can't think of anything more precious that I could be doing with my vacation time.
Here is a picture of the pavilion full of campers lifting their voices in praise to God!