Thinking of being a part of the process of life-change in the life of an individual is incredibly exciting. However, actually being a part of life-change is a much more difficult process. Campers often go home with a whole new perspective on life and I would like to shed some light on why a Lake Ann Camp experience makes such a difference in so many lives.
It is an unusual path to life-change because the whole reason life-change is needed is because we are naturally bent on doing life the way it makes sense to us. This is often counter-intuitive to Biblical truth. Take Adam and Eve for instance. When they sinned in the garden their first response was to sew fig leaves together to hide their nakedness. Then when they heard God in the garden they sought shelter.
When we sin we often do the same thing as Adam and Eve. In fact, when anything in our life is out of whack we don’t often run to a solution–we seek to handle it on our own. It is an interesting study into the character of God to know that the first recorded words of God in the Bible are actually a question. As His custom was, in the cool of the evening, God came to walk and talk with Adam and Eve and they were not available. “Where are you?”, was the simple question God asked. Knowing the destruction that their sin would cause in the world I would not have asked a question like that. Instead, I would have made a statement something like this: “Adam and Eve, GET OVER HERE! I see you behind that rock!”
Rather than jumping to an accusation, God drew Adam and Eve into a conversation that led to the truth. So, how does this relate to life-change at Lake Ann Camp? As I said it is an unusual pathway because the sin in our lives lead us to experience shame and shame causes us to think that hiding is our refuge. Hiding, on the other hand, is a prison and not a refuge.
God Reached Down
God reached down into Adam and Eve’s world by inviting them to confess their sin and to find forgiveness. Many campers experience shame, regret, and fear because of the sin in their lives. They mask it with performance, activities and putting on a smile when inside they are hurting deeply. Lake Ann Camp is a safe zone where they meet other young people going through the same challenges they face in life.
Through activities, new friendships and a series of challenging activities, campers learn to open up and share what is happening in their hearts. Counselors are trained to be facilitators rather than people with all the answers. Throughout the week, counselors sit down and have heart to heart discussions with campers about their life and the challenges they face. For many, this becomes one of the first places they have experienced where they can be a mess and still find acceptance and respect. It is not that respect and acceptance aren’t available to them at home. There is something about the new environment, friends, and activities that draw them out along with the teaching of God’s Word. It opens them up to see themselves for who they really are and invites them to step out of the prison of hiding and into the light of the Gospel.
Like a Bar of Cleansing Soap
I John 1:9 is like a bar of soap cleansing them from their sin and opening the door to a restored relationship with God and others. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.” The unnatural response of opening your self up actually provides for campers what they were looking for all along – acceptance. Of course this is only a first step in spiritual maturity but for many it is why a Lake Ann Camp experience becomes a catalyst for life-change that lasts long after camp is over.