How being a camp counselor can change your life.
At the end of June this year, I had the honor to step on the holiest of grounds at Camp Cherokee in the Cherokee national forest in southeast Tennessee for the first time in my life.
I was a camp counselor to 11 young men who were all high school aged. First of all, those guys were insane, but a blast to be around. Lets just say that them making flamethrowers, swinging from the rafters in the cabin, putting the mattresses on the floor and having a wrestling tournament, and taking doors off of the other cabins made my experience one to remember. But there were also serious moments where I got to share my story and wisdom with them as well, which was super cool.
There were so many great moments that happened while I was there, but here are a few great things that I personally loved about camp:
1. There was tradition.
This was the 40th year of Camp Cherokee. It has been in the same spot, the same cabins, and every meal has been eaten in the same cafeteria for the past 40 years. We served these kids at every meal before we ate. I loved that. Being a servant is something that most people need to teach themselves. This was incredible lesson to me personally. Being humble towards others can take you so far in life. I loved that serving the kids was a tradition.
How many people can say that they have kept something consistent in their life for 40 years? How about 10? How about 5? Not many at all. There were chants that had been there since the beginning #BOBO. One tradition that I absolutely loved was called, "Campfire". Someone would tell their story at the end of the night in front of everyone at the camp with a massive bonfire behind them.
2. There was competition.
I grew up playing sports, so naturally I am a competitive person. If you know anyone from my family, none of us like to lose. I love competition because it forces people to work together and create teamwork. Camp Cherokee has what they call "recs". This is where other cabins would battle each other in certain sports like basketball, football, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, water polo and more with the goal to be crowned "Camp Champs". Since I was their counselor, I was their coach. Let me tell you leading your guys to victory is one of the best feelings ever.
But just like anything in life, there were winners, and there were people who lost. They did not step away from that, which I really admired. My guys won some and we lost some. That is life. Life is tough and will knock you down. Competition teaches you how to lose and to get back up and keep going. Life does not give you a trophy just for participating. You've got to work hard and prove why you are worthy of being rewarded.
3. There was God.
For me, this is important. And for some reading, this may not be important to you. But let me just say, there is something incredible about surrendering your life to God. The most reassurance I have ever felt was when I was on my knees crying out to Jesus to come and bless me in life. God showed up at Camp Cherokee, and he has for 40 years.
These kids experienced that this weekend. All of them. Kids for the past 40 years have experienced that. How marvelous right? To learn how God so loved them and that Jesus came and died for their sins so they don't have to live a life of condemnation. God is for us. God is on your team. He created you. It was truly amazing to me to experience this.
Some students decided while they were there that they were going to confess that they believed that Jesus died for their sins and that they were going to commit their life to serving God. On the last day of camp, they were baptized in the lake.
On that note, I thought I'd share a song that talks about doing just that.
If you are thinking about being a camp counselor in a future summer, do it. The people that you meet are fantastic. Live to serve people for a week. Learn about the lives of others. Listen to peoples struggles and share wisdom. Love on people. I can only imagine that your life will be changed just like mine was.