‘Church Camp’ Means Something Different to Everyone

by Travis Harmon

When I was a kid, ‘camp’ just meant a week that I didn’t have to work and a week that I could spend socializing with my friends. However, as I’ve grown older, my role at camp has changed dramatically and so has my understanding of what ‘camp’ means.

When I think back on my teen years as a camper, the first memory that comes to mind is sitting on the grass on a cool summer night under all the stars in the universe.  We were singing praises to God, and I was awestruck.  For the first time I was experiencing God’s creation and it was causing an awakening in me.  Of course, I had looked at the stars before but this was different.  I can remember being distracted by the damp grass and the discomfort of my physical body but I also remember looking up and contemplating my place in the universe and feeling small as I thought of the Creator who made it all.   I guess it was the fact that everyone in camp was singing songs of praise to the Creator that made me think spiritually.  I saw His power displayed in the earth, the grass, the trees, and stars.  I thought about the people around me worshiping Him and I thought about me.  Somewhere in there, I started to choose my place, my path in it all.  I still remember the beautiful sights and sounds and the thought that, “This must be a minuscule glimpse of what heaven must be like… and I want to go.”

Now I am someone that works behind the scenes. My role at camp has radically changed.  It is not all fun and games anymore.  I don’t often get to enjoy those moments under the stars now.  Oh, from time to time I get to take part and I still have those, ‘This is what heaven must be like’ moments, but now I am usually the one running around making sure the next thing on the list is ready while everyone else is singing.  Looking back, I realize that there were a lot of people that made my weeks at camp possible.   There were people who ran around making sure the next activity on the list was ready.  I’m sure they were just as tired as I am now when I am at camp.  I’m also certain that they worked until they were broken and exhausted for the same reasons that I do it now.  It is all so some obnoxious teenage boy (like I was) that has been in trouble all week can have the opportunity to contemplate his place in God’s creation… and so maybe he will choose a better path, too.

Camp doesn’t mean the same it did to me in the past. At some point it stopped being about the present. It stopped being about all the “fun” we are having and it became about the future. It became about the ‘someday’ we were singing about.  The ‘someday’ when we are all reunited in Heaven where there will be no physical body to distract us.  The devil sure has an easier time of it.  It is a lot easier to make a teenager remember they are physical then to get them to remember that they are spiritual. I guess at camp we shake up the physical world to which they are accustomed to get them to think spiritually, if even for a little while. I don’t know what percentage camp plays in salvation. I do not even know what percentage it played in mine. However, I know it played a part, and I needed it.

Camp means being all together with true friends who all feel the way you feel, being close to God, worshiping him, laying down the physical and being spiritual, just being a little child of God. Heaven must be a lot like camp…     …and I want everyone to go.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.   

~ Revelation 21:1-7

Travis W. Harmon
Heritage Christian University

Travis attended ICYC from many years serving as a counselor. He also served on the ICYC Board of Trustees for several years and served one term as president.  We are indebted to Travis for his Christian leadership and insights and we miss his influence.  jbf