My greatest times of joy and laughter, as a counselor, came from counseling during Camp Promise. I will say, however, that I was a bit hesitant to counsel for that first week. During the weekend of orientation, there was a time set aside for counselors who had previously counseled during Camp Promise to share stories of their experiences as a counselor during those weeks. Some of them shared stories of funny moments that left everyone laughing, others shared stories of how their campers had responded to the gospel. I can distinctly remember how I felt sitting in that circle of counselors and program staff. I felt unprepared and completely inadequate. I was scared as well. It was a place I did not feel confident or comfortable in. Everyone kept talking about how great the week was going to be and how fun it would be. Everyone kept saying that it was such a joy to get to serve in that way, and how much their campers had taught them in the past. I was not sure that I could believe them at first.
“Those weeks caused me to give of myself in many ways. They taught me that I am not the center of the world and that my life does not and should not revolve around what I desire or consider comfortable.”
As I look back to those first moments and memories I had during that orientation week, I see that the issue was in my own heart. I had such a self-centered view of what the week would look like. I was scared and hesitant because my life revolved around how “adequate” or “confident” I was – which is ridiculous. I was nervous because I knew that I was going to be outside of my comfort zone. Those weeks caused me to give of myself in many ways. They taught me that I am not the center of the world and that my life does not and should not revolve around what I desire or consider comfortable.
A God Who Works
“Jesus is not merely an example to follow, but the One who served perfectly in my place…in our place.”
A scripture verse that resonated in my ears so many times during those weeks was Mark 10:45. It speaks of Jesus’ purpose here on earth – “for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is how Jesus lived. He lived not to serve Himself, but to be a servant to those around Him, and most importantly to His Father. Jesus is not merely an example to follow, but the One who served perfectly in my place…in our place. For all the times I fail to serve fully, I can be confident that Jesus served fully. For all the times I look selfishly to my own desires, I can rest assured knowing that Jesus took the punishment for all my self-centeredness. This verse really showed me my need to look away from myself and evaluate why I was even counseling for those weeks.
“If my heart had continued to be consumed with my own needs or wants, there would be no joy…Joy comes not from getting what you want, or having a perfect life, or situations working out just like you wanted them to. Joy, pure joy, can only come from God alone. “
I found great joy when I realized my need to look away from myself and focus on serving and looking to the needs of others. This brought joy because my mindset shifted from thinking about myself, to thinking about others and honoring God with my desires. I was able to be intentional about my campers’ needs because I was no longer consumed with myself. This brought pure joy. Joy that is unspeakable. I so enjoyed every second of those weeks. I enjoyed every time my camper and I got to go sit on the hammock together, every time we got to walk to our cabin together, have evening devotions, eat a meal, get ready to go swimming, have a snack, make s’mores, and everything else that we did. If my heart had continued to be consumed with my own needs or wants, there would be no joy, but praise be to God that He brought me out of that!
God really used Camp Promise in my life to show me that my life is not about me. My life is not about living for what I want, or acting on account of my own preferences. Many of the campers I have gotten to know through Camp Promise have taught me what it means to be joyful, regardless of circumstances. Joy comes not from getting what you want, or having a perfect life, or situations working out just like you wanted them to. Joy, pure joy, can only come from God alone. This is what I have seen in so many campers that attend Camp Promise, and this is what God has continued to teach me. Serving others for the glory of God is something I still need to grow in. I am thankful that God is continuing to call me out from living for myself, and helping me live a life that is centered on Him alone.
This is how God has used Camp Promise in my life, and I am confident that He continues to use Camp Promise in the lives of both counselors and campers alike. God is at work. There is great joy in this truth!