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Junior Camp

Last week I went with Isaiah to junior church camp (ages 8 to 12 years) held at Pleasant Valley Ranch outside of Mansfield, Ohio. The days’ activities included morning and evening chapel, team sports competitions, silly games, swimming, dodge ball, among other things. The week of camp was directed by our pastor and organized by our church staff. They did a wonderful job and put in untold hours of work. Here are a few highlights for me…

Sandy and I are jealous over the hearts of our children. I certainly have made my share of mistakes but I hope that they will look back on their childhood with fond memories of parents who loved them very much. Isaiah perhaps will not remember the details of this week of camp as he grows older but I hope he will remember having a really special time and a lot of fun with his daddy when he was 8 years old at junior camp.

On Wednesday Isaiah preached his first sermon. His text was Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It was touching to see him walk over to Pastor Siler before it was his turn to speak and ask for prayer. He was very nervous but I was so proud he didn’t let his nerves get the best of him. He spoke for maybe 2 to 3 minutes… my heart rejoiced as I watched my son do his best to proclaim the word of God in front of a crowd of his peers.

The bus kids that attended camp made a big impression on me. When the lights went out in our cabin for bedtime and I told the kids it was time to put their flashlights away as well, a little black boy named Isaiah who slept in the bunk across the room asked if he could keep his on a little longer so he could read his Bible. He would often walk close beside me back to the cabin and I would talk to him about his day at camp. Then there was a larger black boy whose name I don’t recall at the moment but when we were at the pool he would ask to ride on my back… he weighed as much as I do, I thought I was going to drown but he had a good time. He saw me take a picture of Isaiah in the cabin and asked if I’d take his picture too. These are simple things but they moved me. It didn’t matter to me what race the kids were… what I saw was children that wanted an adult to love them and souls for whom Jesus died. I don’t presume to know what each of these kids go through at home but I would say there was a number of them that for a week of camp had a peaceful night of sleep knowing no one was there to hurt them and had three meals a day that was probably the best food they had eaten in awhile.

I also enjoyed the fellowship with the other two counselors that shared my cabin. Both are fathers of Isaiah’s friends and it was enjoyable spending time with them. As the psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

It was great to spend a week with the Lord. I enjoyed walking around the camp early each morning reading my Bible as well as attending morning devotions with a few other counselors as well as a mid-morning devotion that Pastor Siler held with all the counselors that focused on “anger”. The sermons from Dr. Wayne Essex were a blessing each night and it was great to see so many children turn to Christ. I had the privilege of leading three boys to the Lord after the preaching. What a thrill!

“For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp” Deuteronomy 23:14a

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