There is something phenomenal about youth camp with the fact that it leaves you feeling refreshed and on fire for God, like gaining answers in the woods.
Youth camp this Summer was the last thing I would do before going back to school for Fall semester. We arrived for check in on Thursday night and left Sunday afternoon. Monday after, I would start school. I had a desire for camp to not only be fun but to really help us draw closer to God. I really wanted there to be good worship and prayer more than anything else.
The drive to youth camp was about two hours and I had the responsibility of bringing dinner and snacks for that night. I ended up driving alone because my other carpool rides didn’t work out. But I like to think of myself as an independent person so I was like eh, its fine. I’ll drive alone and have some time to reflect on life by myself. Well, I ended up losing service and getting lost when I arrived on the camp site. I had to leave the campsite and drive off to find service until I eventually found some. And I got a hold of our youth leader who helped me get to camp safely. Almost cried and went back home. And that was the start of a very interesting youth camp. Luckily things got way better after that rocky start!
Camp was indeed very fun. The nightly highlights were going to the dock in the middle of the night and stargazing. Those deep talks though! We played volleyball for majority of the day and night (well not me as much because I suck), we went zip lining, canoeing and swimming, we played group games, had good talks, explored, and watched a movie. I personally did not have a bored moment.
But the most amazing part of camp was getting closer to new and old friends but also seeing how God worked in all of us. It was amazing being in God’s presence and looking out with tear stained eyes for a split moment to see everyone in awe of the Lord and worshipping at his feet together.
I really prayed for God to work in this camp. I felt we all could use a little extra prayer and Jesus to shake up our life a little bit. I’m so glad that God worked in us. The beginning of camp was great because everyone was getting along. But somewhere in the middle of camp problems arose amongst some of us. And I look back at that moment and it makes my stomach drop. Because in the end we didn’t even know why we were upset in the first place and the problems that happened were stupid and pointless. It was as if the devil came in and tried to shake things up and keep us from getting close to God.
But luckily we worked things out. In the end we all wanted God to touch this camp and for us to leave feeling refreshed and renewed. On Saturday night we had our last church service with our pastors. At this point we had all made up and talked things out but things may have been a little bit rocky still. With each song that our worship group sang, I began to forget about yesterday and it’s problems but focus on God in this very moment. We ended our worship list with “How He Loves” where Dima asked us to repeat the lines before ending in prayer. After this, the Holy Spirit really amplified in the room. I don’t think I was the only one who could feel His thick presence.
Our youth leader asked if anyone wanted to go to the front to receive the Holy Spirit or be prayed over. Everyone was praying but no one went up to the front. He asked again, but still no one went up. I felt a tugging on my heart to go to the front. But then immediately the negative thoughts came up that said, “After the way you were acting yesterday, you don’t deserve it. And you might be the only one going up.” So I stayed in my place up in the front with the worship team frozen in fear. But then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Go to the front and the others will follow. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday.” And I responded back with, “But what if I’m the only one who goes up” and God answered me with, “I wouldn’t call you to do something and leave you all alone to fight for yourself.” Well with that I went to the front on my knees and started weeping, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, others followed and we were there on our knees praying together.
I have never wept so hard in my life or prayed so hard since probably the day I was first baptized with the Holy Spirit. And here I was at camp feeling ashamed and regretful for some of my actions and conflicts from the other day but God was still working on my heart and filling me with His Spirit. Our youth leader asked us to pray for one another and my best friend and I wrapped each other in one another’s arms and bawled together. At one point I was bawling so hard that I was actually choking for air. Truth is, I was so hungry for God.
Camp really was great and I’ll never forget that service. I know that you don’t need camp to have a close encounter with God. And you cant go into camp expecting that you’ll be a completely changed and renewed person after that. But camp does have some mysterious way of helping you get answers and draw closer to God while tucked away in the woods.
This verse Psalms 12:01 will always remind of camp which says “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him and He answered my prayer.”
I think the fact that nothing over the top or really out of the ordinary happened at camp is good because it will help us stay focused on him and hunger for him as camp is over. The most important part of camp was the fact that we humbled ourselves before God and that the Holy Spirit touched us and left us with a stronger hunger for God.
At camp I learned that it doesn’t matter the mistakes I made the day before, because God can still work in me and use me for His glory. God can redeem any broken relationships and cleanse their broken hearts and hurt and restore them to be healed.
Camp was a success not because of the activities or because of radical revivals but because God was in our presence and we could encounter Him. I believe that we will not let this experience be a one time thing but that we will continue to pursue him after and have the desire to grow in our relationship with Him.
It’s funny how He can grow beautiful flowers out of the inner most darkest places of my heart as He showers me with His grace.
God restores all things, even in the midst of brokenness.
I found the answers I was seeking in the woods.