Brandon Westgate – Ward, Colorado … As the summer camp season has officially ended for the Rocky Mountain Conference, it might be well to consider what the summer has wrought from a few different perspectives.

SPIRITUALLY:  The spiritual atmosphere at camp was incredible. The summer camp staff was upbeat and positive and presented Jesus in a way that was attractive. The pastors who gave their time and efforts to minister to our campers were witty and helpful and truly showcased a God who is accessible and present. Our desire is to make it easy for kids to know God and I really felt like we were successful at doing that. To demonstrate that point, dozens of campers made a decision to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. About 60 of them also expressed an interest in being baptized and several of those baptisms took place in Lake Minnie at the Ranch.

The reverberations from being engaged in intentional ministry impacted our summer camp staff as well as we were witness to 20 of our summer camp staff members being either baptized or re-baptized in Lake Minnie. The transparent and heartfelt testimonies that were offered by these young adults were inspirational, honest, and real. The Spirit of God was moving in our midst, and it was a genuinely sanctified moment in time that I will forever cherish.

SOCIALLY:  It seemed as though our campers were especially social with each other. They were engaged and involved and invested in what we were doing. The staff were willing to work harder to create opportunities for social engagement and the campers did not disappoint. They leaned into those times of community building with their peers. New friendships were forged, old friendships were rekindled, and a greater sense of community was witnessed by all through games and activities. This aspect of camp cannot be measured by any sort of metric. It has to be experienced to be known.

SECRETLY:  So much of what happens at camp is unseen or witnessed by just a few. A camper who is homesick gets some encouragement from a counselor and their world suddenly seems safer. A frustrated and clumsy camper trying to keep up with the group discovers a staff member who is deliberately staying with them and now they don’t feel left behind or abandoned; instead, they feel included. A staff member who is having a personal crisis receives a personal note of encouragement at just the right time and somehow their crisis doesn’t seem so overwhelming. It’s the little things that happen at camp that tend to make the biggest difference.

Those quiet talks, gentle words of reassurance, high fives, and simple smiles that communicate, “Hey, I see you. You are special and God loves you,” are the things that make summer camp unlike anywhere else.

–Brandon Westgate is RMC youth director. Photos by Camp Communication Team