the flip side

When I was in high school, I always blocked out the first week of August from any other activities so I could go to Teen Camp. Teen Camp is organized and run by Chinese Christian Union Church in Chinatown (my church's mother church). My first year of camp, I remember Greg Speck being the speaker and how amazing and convicting his messages were. I grew up in a Christian family, but that year at camp I recommitted my life to Christ (going into my sophomore year of high school). So I recognize the profound importance Christian camps can have in the lives of teenagers and their spiritual lives.

Jessica, Tiffany and me on the last day of camp.
This year I returned to Teen Camp (which takes place at the Lake Geneva Youth Camp & Conference Center), but as a counselor instead of a camper. I was excited to be able to be on the counselor staff with my fellow youth counselors, Gerald, Tiffany and Pearson, and with Jessica, another friend from our church. It was such a joy to serve with them all week.

One of the main reasons Gerald, Tiffany, Pearson and I decided to be counselors at camp this year was because we visited camp one night last year and realized the importance of being there for the kids in our own youth group. I know I loved it when just one of our youth counselors was a Teen Camp counselor when I was a camper. There's just something comforting about knowing that this person already knows you so well and knows where you come from. So if any of our youth needed to talk, they'd know that we're there for them and available if they need us.

Though that week of camp was one of the most tiring and non-stop weeks ever (it's way more work than my usual 40-hour work week), it's definitely one of the highlights of my summer. I also think I like being a counselor better than being a camper...and not just because of the special counselor privileges. ;-) Here's why:
All the counselors minus Gerald (he had to leave early).
  • Seeing God at work: Not that I didn't see God at work when I was a camper, but as a counselor you get to see how God is working in the entire camp. At our morning meetings, we always shared things that were going on, so we could hear how God was working in certain students and/or counselors lives throughout the week. There were many non-Christians at camp this year and God was definitely working in the hearts of many. Several students accepted Christ that week.
  • Connecting one-on-one: I loved having one-on-ones with the girls in my cabin. It allowed me to get to know them better and some of them really opened up and shared their struggles with me. At times I felt so inadequate because I just didn't know how to respond or what to say. I felt like I was just rambling and saying things sometimes, not really sure if they were making sense or helping at all. But by God's grace, He gave me the words to say and helped me to realize just how much I need to depend on Him and how He can work despite my weaknesses. I was also able to connect on a deeper level with some of our own youth group members, which is such a blessing because I'll still see these teens back at home and can continue to follow-up on the things we talked about.
  • Serving with the body: Our Teen Camp staff this year was an awesome group of people. Everyone had strengths that contributed to a great team. We all worked together, and I enjoyed getting to know the counselors from other churches better. It's awesome how you can instantly connect with people when you know that you're all bonded together in Christ. I also got to know Tiffany a lot better since we shared a room (where we stored our stuff & went for refuge). We shared what God was doing in our cabins and Bible studies and in individual students and we've been able to become more open with each other too about what's going on in our lives, which is another blessing. 
  • Serving with Gerald: My boyfriend, Gerald, and I didn't really get to see each other much during the week since we were always busy with our own campers, but we both felt that even though we didn't get to spend much time together that week, our relationship grew closer just through serving together in the same ministry. We did get to perform one of our songs, Hallelujah, together for our combined Bible study skit, which was a lot of fun. You can watch it here. This was Gerald's first Teen Camp ever and I'm glad I was able to share the experience with him. He's already planning what he'll do when he's a counselor again next year.
 So even though I did get bed bug bites at camp (I found out some of my girls found bugs in the cabin and also got bitten), I was sleep-deprived, and I had no free time, it was absolutely worth it. God was present and moving, and it's my prayer that what we all learned at camp will transform our lives so we won't ever be the same again.

What are some of your great camp memories?

CCUC-North campers & counselors!
Meredith Andrews came to perform for us.
Me, Boyi, and Angela, two of my youth group members.
My awesome Bible study group!
My wonderful cabin girls - Birchwood #5


Kath Andres said...

Awesome post! :)

Teen Camp was just amazing. Having you guys, our counselors, there just made it so much better. Getting to share this experience with you made it even more special for me! I loved seeing you guys there! Just being able to talk to you about what's happening everyday, what we were learning, and how God is working in our lives. It was a little weird and kinda sad seeing you guys there and not having you as counselors or not being able to talk to you as much but I still felt that I became closer to you guys during camp.

Your cabin girls and bible study were very lucky to have you as their counselor! Just like how our YG is very very lucky to have you! You are such a wonderful blessing to everyone! We're all thankful for you!


I hope that you're thinking about being a counselor again next year! :)

Anyway, you guys had Greg Speck as a speaker? The book that I was reading, "Living for Jesus: Beyond the Spiritual High" was written by him! So cool!

Christy said...

@Kat, thanks for your comment! I loved being at TC with you guys this year, and don't worry...I'm sure I can work it out to come back next year. I used to plan my summers around it, so I can definitely do that again. Thanks for your encouragement too!

Yep, we had Greg Speck as our speaker. That's so funny that you're reading a book by him right now. The title seems very fitting for an end of camp book too. Let me know what you learn from it!

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