It was a Friday afternoon when we pulled into Camp Kulaqua. The carpool line slowed down to take in the huge field that funneled down into a natural spring. Even from the road, you could see the brightly colored blog sitting there taunting you to come down and take a turn defying gravity. You pass the A Frame structure and the horse barn and the show arena opens up to the right. Continuing down the road, you see the cafeteria, gym and offices. There is this huge air strip for small planes to fly down and teepee at the end of the runway. We inch back to the small cabins – two circles of block buildings that sleep ten with a bathroom in the middle that didn’t bely the fact they were build when the camp opened (not a pretty smell). As we take it all in, you hear it and you feel it. It is as loud as a lion’s roar! Then you realize, it is a lion’s roar. Oh yeah, someone said they had a zoo. While everyone stows their stuff and links up with their counselors, I head to the meeting room no bigger than one of our preschool rooms on the GFC Water’s Campus. This is camp – this is 1996.
We leave for camp today! It is still one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of over the eighteen years that GFC has been doing it. It started pretty humble and simple. We couldn’t take over the camp, let alone a larger meeting facility – there was only 35 of us. Yet, we did it. We had simple “services,” swam in the spring, had a bonfire and a rodeo! It was so hot – we sweated the entire time. Over the years, so much has changed. The camp has expanded in so many ways – brand new dorms this year, a water park, tower of faith, the King’s chapel, expand the cafeteria, outdoor picnic pavilion, updated sounds systems and even wi-fi. Over the eighteen years, we have seen ministry take on so many new forms – music, drama, speakers, color wars, group activities, small groups, break out sessions, counselor – camp talks, pastor – counselor talks, and even the camp nurses (amazing group of ladies)!
One thing doesn’t change – God shows up. In so many ways…it shows the “bigness” of God and the intimacy of our Heavenly Father. Sitting in one of the powerful services, people repent, get things right, forgive, receive life callings. (Side note: One of my greatest camp memories was Casey standing behind me as a squirt and watching the Move band lead at camp. He pointed at Brandon and said, “I want to do that someday.” He is one of the leaders this week!) The intimacy shows up in the talks with new friends, a counselor, or even just hearing God for the first time.
There is something about camp that draws you back. Just talking to “alumni” this weekend at church – young adults with new wives and little children long to go back. They share their stories and there is lots of laughter and there is even some tears. Camp changes lives and continues to work on your heart long after the busses arrive back at the church.
Here’s an irony…I never went to summer camp as a kid. But I am so glad I did as a Pastor…It has impacted my life for a lifetime!