(I wrote this after I got off a 13-14 hour shift and late at night, please forgive the typos.)
Before we get into it, let me set the backdrop. I served on summer staff for 5 years: two on day camp, two on counseling, and one on program staff. I love CHBC. I love the people, the grounds, the waterfront (especially the waterfront), and I love the mission and CHBC’s heart for kids to be introduced to Jesus. This place is a good place.
And this is why I am writing an open letter to you. Because if, at all possible, I would like to help make your summer less burdensome and more focused.
So even though I do not know most of you (if you don’t remember me by name, you may know me as the weird guy who took forever to paint the Jack doors this past week), I am excited for your summer. I look forward to hearing updates about how God powerfully moved in and through the summer staff. I look forward to hearing your camper stories, the dumb/intelligent/challenging/unnerving/incredible things they do this summer.
So, with my time and your attention waning, let us get to the different teams.
You are the unsung heroes at camp. When it comes to camper recognition you receive little praise. However, in the grand scheme of things, you are vital to camp. Helping out at big games, being cabin buddies, having fun and playing with campers, leading activities, setting up and tearing down, honing your craft for the campers are all things that make camp run smoothly. You are incredibly important.
Therefore, do your jobs well. Know that you have been called to this place this summer. You no less participate in God’s mission than the counselors.
The length of time you spend with kids does not directly correlate to the impact you will have on them.
Have a ton of fun driving but don’t forget that these kids look up to you and see you as their role-models. Give the kids Jesus. Every day, do your job so that kids can encounter Jesus. Not so that they can encounter Jesus with some other staff member but set up opportunities to hear their story and share yours. Protect the kids from themselves (lets be honest, the Geekson can get kinda crazy) but give the kids Jesus.
In your conversations with them don’t look to the end of the conversation so that you can have your night off but sit with them and disciple them, as Jesus sits with and trains you.
Counselors (day camp included)
Walk in regular repentance. Each day, breathe the fresh air, revitalizing air of repentance and faith. Be determined to have Jesus penetrate into your being, sink into your very marrow, nourish your person.
There is so much more that I could say to you (for some advice see a series of posts I did called “So You’re Going to Camp” at christopherlash.wordpress.com) but all in all make sitting in the gospel a daily rhythm for you.
Give your kids Jesus. Devos on purity, modesty, David’s mighty men, sin, beauty, mansculinity matter very little if Jesus is not the focal point. Make Jesus grand for your kids. Give them nothing less than the radical, life-altering, heart pursuing Jesus. Do not seek to modify your kid’s behavior, introduce them to Jesus to accepts them despite their good pr bad behavior (and yes I said despite their good behavior).
Youth Min Team
You assembled this team. You trained this team. You are not responsible for the effectiveness of this team. God WILL move this summer. He WILL draw kids to Himself. He WILL make Himself famous.
Since God will beckon and call campers, despite the hiccups in the programs or camp functions, take time to be away and rest with your families. Take time to rest by yourself. Rest in the gospel. Rest in the finished work of Christ.
You have poured your heart and soul into these programs. You have tailored the program to address the needs and desires of the kids. You have put much thought into the vision and purpose of your program. From the games to the transitions, to the teachings you have mapped it all out. Thank you for your hard work.
Now, as everything gets going, like lighting a rocket before the calculations are finished, (will it fly and not crash? I guess we will see.) you get to see your program put into motion.
Trust the counselors. They’re great. They have the same goal you do.
Lean on eachother.
Rest in the gospel. Rest in Christ’s finished work. The fate of these kids does not stand or fall on your program (nor does God’s approval of you). God is already drawing the kids who he will save before they even encounter your program. Rest in the unbelievable reality that the delight of the Trinity rests upon you when your program rocks or sucks.
Give the counselors Jesus.
As they get more and more tired, worn-out, and cynical they need Jesus.
They need Him in His glory, fullness, majesty. They need to know that Jesus is the one who sits with them and their kids. They need to know that Jesus delights and accepts them where they are at: exhausted, spent, inadequate.
And for yourselves, sit in the reality that God has called you to Himself. That God draws you to rest. The pressure of training and discipling the staff does not rest on you. Even if the whole summer falls apart and everyone looses their minds, that does not sit on your shoulders. God asks for faithfulness without demanding effectiveness.
Everyone (full time staff included)
This summer, seek to ferociously pursue increased dependence upon Christ. Do not settle for trite Christian sayings or feelings of adequacy. This summer can be completed without any dependence on Jesus (and yunno what? God will move anyways). However, should you choose to seek autonomy, you will not be led into deeper joy, repentance, or faith.
Therefore, REST in Christ’s finished work. Do not bother yourself with any other “super-spiritual” pontifications. Just rest. As you rest explore the gospel in its depths. Search out Jesus Christ, lest you become bored with Him. Become enamored by Jesus, enthralled by His grace to you, captured by His love in the Trinity, arrested by His pursuit of you in humanity, engrossed by His delight in you, and absorbed in the fact that He draws you to Himself as you are, not as you will be.
I pray that you will marinate in the gospel. Soak up the gospel. Confront the lies you believe by the gospel. I pray that you preach the gospel to yourself before you ever preach it to the kids.
And that you walk away from this summer enamored with Jesus Christ because He allowed you to participate in His mission.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it was encouraging.