Things I Learned at Lake Ann Camp

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I had the opportunity to serve at Lake Ann Camp for 6 summers of my life (93-97, 99).  Each summer was a growing, stretching, and exciting experience.  I truly believe that Lake Ann is a place to “Discover Life At Its Best”.  So, what I hope to accomplish in this blog post is to simply share several of the life-changing principles that I learned while at Lake Ann.  Some of these principles are spiritual, some are leadership, some are pragmatic, but all of them are practical and can be used at any stage of life.  So, thank you, Ken Riley, Eldon Brock, Ken Rudolph and the countless other leaders who poured into my life – Lake Ann had a huge part in shaping who I am today.

Get Sleep

A typical week of camp starts at 7 am on Monday and concludes at 2 pm on Saturday. Saturday afternoon, to some degree, belonged to us. We would typically go to the laundry mat to do our wash, then shop at Meijer’s and then go have dinner and head to the beach.  “Have as much fun as you want,” Ken Riley would tell us; “But be in bed by midnight.”  Ken was a firm believer that if we were going to be able to give our best Monday-Saturday then we needed to get the rest we needed Saturday Night and Sunday.  I still use this philosophy on the mission trips we take at Bible Baptist.  We cannot give our best if we are physically drained.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time… -Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB

Do Your Devotions

This should go without saying at a Christian camp.  Nevertheless, it was at LA that I really developed the habit of doing my devotions and doing them for the right reasons (not out of guilt or obligation – but because I believe God really wants to talk to me through His Word).  It was at Lake Ann that I first learned how to do an Inductive Bible Study, and I still use the same method with the teens at Bible Baptist.

Count to 18

This is a simple little leadership principle I learned from Eldon Brock.  This is what he said; “Whenever you are leading a group of people in a discussion and you ask a question, count to 18 in your head before you rescue them or answer the question for them.”  Here’s why

  • It takes 5 seconds for them to process what you asked
  • It takes another 5 seconds to think of an answer
  • It takes 5 more seconds to formulate the answer
  • And it takes 3 seconds to muster up the courage to answer.

Bring the Energy

Whenever you bring large groups of people (especially teens) together there’s going to be a lot of nervous energy.  The responsibility for the staff is to leverage that energy to prepare the teens for spiritual growth opportunities.  We play stupid games, we sing stupid songs and we do stupid activities.  Now, when the staff BRINGS THE ENERGY to all that stupid stuff it softens the approach to the spiritual stuff.   We use the silly stuff to open up a door to the heart.  Teens who would never sing in their youth group back home are praising God at the top of their voices in chapel. It all starts with the energy level of the staff.

Eat Your Food

Nobody Goes Hungry at Lake Ann, yet sometimes we don’t care for the food at Lake Ann.  For me, it was Taco Salad day.  But, I learned that if I wanted my campers to eat it I had to eat it.  It’s funny, with the junior campers, if I was first in line at the dining hall and I skipped on taking veggies – usually, the next several campers would do the same.  However, if I took the veggies, the campers right behind me would too.

Work Now – Play Later

This is similar to Get Your Sleep.  Basically, get your work done on Saturday afternoon (clean your cabin, complete your forms, finish up your work) then go have fun.  Six summers of doing this helped me to stay focused in times I didn’t want to.  Work Hard Now so you can Play Hard Later!

All of Life is Spiritual

I can have just as meaningful time with God in chapel as I can in the dining hall or the challenge course or taking a walk in one of the fields.  God can use anything to grow us into the men and women He desires us to be.  It might happen in the chapel with one of Ken’s messages or it could happen on a solo when all I have is a pen, a journal and 4 hours of alone time.  God can and will use all of our life experiences to shape us into who He wants us to be.

Live By Faith

In the 20 years I have been associated with Lake Ann, I have never seen so much stuff done (both physically with the camp property and spiritual in the lives of people).  The leadership of Lake Ann is committed to living by faith.  The staff works extremely hard in doing what God has called them to do and they pray to God and expect Him to do what only HE can do.  God has changed the lives of campers that I would never have thought would change.  God has given the camp opportunities to grow that I would never have thought would have been possible.

I need to remember that All Things are Possible with God.

Reality Is Your Friend

Finally, remember that reality is your friend.  Several years ago, Ken Riley, asked me to read the book Integrity by Henry Cloud.  Let me tell you, it is a painful book to read; but next to the Bible it is also one of the most life-changing books I have ever read. Integrity encourages you to embrace the reality of your life.  Stop living in la-la land.  Be real and brutally honest with yourself and who you are.  The book has changed my life and helped me to become a better leader/pastor today.


Terry Porter is a pastor in Traverse City at Bible Baptist Church. Terry has a great blog that you can find at, Terry is passionate about discipleship (as well as mountain biking and coffee roasting!), and his blog is both informative and challenging. 

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