First, we were able to return to Pine Summit Camp in Big Bear, California. Operationally, this was the best week of camp we’ve ever had. The good team at Pine Summit served our group well with great food, tremendous facilities, and a wide array of activities and free-time options for the teens. After several bad experiences with camp facilities, we were thankful for big improvement! In addition to this, our LBC camp staff provided great games and a fun-filled week for every teen!
Second, the main event of teen camp is always the preaching. This year Pastor Kurt Skelly preached to our Senior Highers and Pastor Josh Irmler preached to the Junior Highers. Both men were very biblical, practical, and passionate in their preaching. God used them powerfully! In addition to perhaps thousands of spiritual decisions, God gave us approximately 23 teens who trusted Christ, and another 20 who surrendered to God’s call to full time ministry. It was a delight to see the tender hearts at the invitations. Each night, many teens raised a hand asking for a counselor to pray with them about something specific.
Third, we thank the Lord for a great group! Eight other churches from the southwest joined us for the week. Approximately 420 teens and 80 adults participated in the week, and the entire group had a tremendous spirit. I’m especially thankful for the fellowship the youth pastor’s shared, and the sacrifice our adult leaders displayed as they invested their hearts and influence into the teens. From early morning to late night, God gave each of us many counseling moments to encourage, pray with, and strengthen the young people.
Fourth, I thank the Lord for a week of unforgettable moments and spiritual victories. This article would be much too long if I attempted to recall them all, but here are a few highlights of the week. Dozens of teens who have been hurt or who are bearing burdens made decisions to “overcome the evil with good.” The teens memorized several thousand verses during the week. Our new class of Seniors displayed a tremendous spirit and made many good decisions. The WCBC ladies trio did a great job singing and serving. Youth pastors participated in a round-table idea sharing time for youth ministry. Dozens of former youth group graduates returned to camp as counselors—I’m grateful for their tremendous mentoring and godly examples. Older teens consistently reached out encourage younger teens. Pastor and Mrs. Chappell visited camp on Thursday, spent some time with the kids, and shared a challenge in the evening services. And the week was filled with great laughs and hilarious memories.
The biggest take-away for me was the overwhelming understanding of the enormous burdens that many teens bear. This week we counseled many teens who have indescribable grief unfolding in their lives. A huge percentage of them have faced broken homes, abuse, rejection, desertion, and other painful trials. Our hearts broke as we wept and prayed with these young people. My prayer is that God used the week to encourage them and heal their hurts by His grace.
Looking back, teen camp is an exhausting week, but worth every moment! It’s one of the most critical spiritual weeks of the year. The hundreds of hours of personal counseling, praying, planning, and participation will reap decades of fruit in young lives. Teen Camp produces lasting life change. I can attest to this because of the powerful impact camp had on my own life as a teenager.
If you are a parent, thank you for sending your teenager! Thank you for allowing us to minister to them! It’s a great privilege. Check back this weekend for a short article on how to encourage and strengthen your teenager’s camp decisions.
If you are a youth pastor, we would love to have your group join us next year. Space is limited, so let us know soon if you are interested. We would be happy to provide you with more information. If you are a praying friend, thank you for praying for God to work! He answered prayer! Our hearts are full. God truly blessed teen camp 2010!