Lessons on a Child-like Faith
It’s August and our campers have finished their week of camp and are safely back under their parent’s watchful care. It was a banner summer in many ways. And the biggest transformation of the camp property is taking place as you read this. The construction of the ARC. The new Adventure, ReCreation, and Connection facility will allow us to do all of our high adventure activities year round. But that is not what I want to focus on today. I want to talk about the transformation that took place in many of our camper’s hearts. And examine how we can all benefit from a child-like faith.
Let me take you back to an experience I had in May with my two-year-old grandson Coby. He’s all boy and full of adventure. We were staying at a hotel that had an elevator. Soon he learned he could step on his tippy toes and push the button that brought the elevator to us. He would push the button and dutifully stand right in front of the door waiting for it to open. Once in he would, with help, again push the right button and then wait for movement. As soon as the car started moving he would grin, wiggle his little body and say – woah with amazement. And that was just the beginning of our adventures. Here are a few lessons I learned from Coby that day about childlike faith:
1). In child-like faith caution is thrown to the wind.
I noticed this as Coby had found the landscaping bark under a tree and he buried his shoes in it until they were covered. Immediately I was concerned about the shoes getting dirty for shavings to get into his socks but for Coby it was just something cool to do at that moment in time. It made me think of campers who made a commitment to Christ at camp. They have an innocent sense about following through and are detoured in their belief that this is a good step forward in life. Time will tell them how hard it will be to live up to that commitment but I think a wise adult will simply walk along side them letting them learn at their own pace. Even though that adult will most likely want to give warnings and create hesitation.
2). Curiosity turns a normal walk into an extraordinary adventure.
One of the other adventures we discovered along the way was a large mosquito hawk on the side of the building. I pointed it out to Coby and his first reaction was a bit of fear and then, realizing he was bigger than the bug he bent down and said, BOO! Nothing happened so he did it again… BOO! I touched it and it flew a bit and he moved with delight. New adventures give life a boost. One of the reasons camp is so effective is that it gives young people a safe place to learn and grow. Those leading their experiences have specific training to encourage steps of growth and the wonder that is created in the process. Someday Coby will have lots of responsibility in life but today he’s learning that new experiences are good and life giving. A lesson I hope he never forgets.
3). It is always better to pick up what you are looking at.
Picking up rocks runs in our family. My grandpa helped build a rock garden that fascinated me when I was a child. I now have rocks from all over the world as people know how much I enjoy God’s creativity in rocks. Coby shares my enthusiasm! If he sees it he picks it up. If it is too big, he still tries to pick it up. Unconcerned that it may be dirty or rough, he picks up rocks. He does it because it is his job… his job to discover whatever is in front of him. It is quite a task to think through each age level at camp and to create, “rock picking” experiences for campers on the level that they are currently experiencing life but that is what we do at Lake Ann Camp.
For Junior’s it may be a relay where they learn to see others around them and not just their own interests. For Junior High it might be jumping off “The Leap” where they learn to move forward through their fears and for high schooler’s it might be learning how to interact in a healthy way with the opposite sex as they solve problems on the challenge course together. Creating a place where each age level can “pick up rocks” is a wonderful thing and it is encouraged at Lake Ann Camp! Bringing them back and putting them on grandma’s side of the bed, however, is discouraged (true story).
4). When you can’t swim and you are on a dock, surrounded by chilly water, have someone older than you near to keep you safe.
Water is a wonderful thing and walking on a dock is the best. We would park our car to the left of the door we came out of but the dock was to the right. Invariably we could open the door and Coby would point to the water or just beeline toward the dock. The dock was long and narrow and the Lake Michigan water was cold but that was no concern to Coby. There was dried seagull scat to kick or large bass to watch. Better yet, obstacles like ropes to jump over. All the while, as his grandfather I was trying to figure out what I would do if he fell in and doing all I could to prevent that from happening.
The older we get the more hesitant we become because we can see, from our own painful experiences, how something will turn out if it is not prevented. Camp counselors are great for campers because they are just old enough to have more life experience and not old enough to want to stifle growth. They can share their own experiences and help campers to grow from the things they learned in life. It is a wonderful thing to be able to experience life to its fullest and at the same time to be safe in the process. Oh and we saw a huge pike too!
5). When your adventure is over telling your story in bold and living colors is the best!
Coby is young and his vocabulary is limited but at the end of each adventure was the telling of the story when we got back to the room where his mom was watching his sister. Offloading his new discovery’s usually left some sort of mess on the table, bed or floor but it was important!
So are the stories that campers bring home. Story is a way of cementing life changing experiences deep into our hearts. It is no wonder the God of the Universe said to His disciples, “permit the young children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God”. Letting your campers tell story after story and sing camp songs ad infinitum is all a part of helping them to someday be ready for a very busy and productive life… and that is a great thing!