I need to tell you that I don’t even believe that there is a God. That is how the week began in one of our Senior High cabins last summer. A camper came to Lake Ann Camp because she had been told that it was a great camp and it would be fun. It wasn’t that she was antagonistic to God, she just felt she did not need Him or believe that He existed. For her, believing was some sort of crutch that weak people needed to get through the complexities of life.
Wednesday morning the counselor suggested that the cabin go down to the new waterfront and have their devotions by the lake. On the way back this camper commented to her counselor: It is hard to not believe in God when you see so much beauty all around you. That evening Ken Rudolph felt the Lord leading him to preach about the beauty of Christ and… you guessed it…this camper accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.
What happened? How did this camper experience such a dramatic change in her belief structures in such a short period of time? Let’s talk about what a camp experience is all about. Maybe one of the best ways to answer that is to pick Lake Ann Camp’s mission statement apart:
Lake Ann Camp: We are a camp in Lake Ann, Michigan. Camp is about getting out of the house and into the woods. It also means you change your scenery from what is ordinary, which also opens your heart to other changes.
We exist to challenge campers: A camp can’t change people. People make their own decision to either change or stay the same, but a camp can set the table for reevaluation and offer an opportunity for growth.
We challenge individuals in a group setting: Groups don’t change – people do. Lake Ann Camp works hard to not lump campers into the identity of a group. Rather, we train our staff to see each individual as a valued creation of God, worthy of respect and dignity.
The challenge we offer is to make Biblical life changing decisions: Our belief is that Life at Its Best comes when we see and live our lives by the principles of Scripture. Our intentional programming centers itself on this key concept.
Through unique learning experiences: Think about it, if you can do an activity at home why come all the way to Lake Ann? Our offerings are different from the norm – they are oriented toward connection, getting people in touch with other (and often new) people and their creator God.
Back to the camper: first it has to be said that God was pursuing her all along. Even in her disbelief, God was setting the stage for an encounter with Himself. Leaving her home surroundings heightened her senses to everything that was going on around her. The beauty of God’s creation also made a difference. Romans 1:20 states, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made.”
An other contributing factor included the impact of those in her cabin that were a witness to the reality of God in their lives. Add to this the clear and age-appropriate delivery of God’s Word in chapel, and a week of camp often becomes a moment in a person’s life when everything changes from that point forward.
Transformation occurs at every camp and every retreat here at Lake Ann, and it is a wonderful thing! It is such a privilege to be so “close to the fire” where God is at work. He is always drawing people into a relationship with Himself, giving hope and purpose for each day.
Ken Riley is the Executive Director of Lake Ann Camp. To learn more about Lake Ann Camp, visit our web site, www.lakeanncamp.com. To ask Ken a question directly, email him at email@example.com.