Volunteer recalls first time as camper
|Camp became holy ground. My call to ministry sprouted and took root at camp. Camp is transformative. Sign me up!—Audra Fogle
Last of a series on Camps
By Audra Fogle
Lauren nervously stepped up to the microphone at the children’s vesper service and shared with a crowd of more than 200 how she had learned about God at Sonshine Camp. Listening, I recalled a conversation earlier that morning, when a room full of high school students agreed that it is much easier to hear God’s voice in the stillness of camp, far from the distractions of their everyday lives.
And I remembered. As a sixth grader, I was both nervous and excited about attending church camp for the first time. I was the only one from my local church; I didn’t know a soul.
The week flew by, I loved my home in the woods, leaders taught us fun songs about God, and the cooks made amazing cinnamon rolls! I was hooked — and never missed attending summer camp throughout my junior high and high school years.
Camp became holy ground.
Over the years my faith matured, and district friendships deepened. Volunteer adult leaders loved and encouraged me year after year. My call to ministry sprouted and took root at camp.
It’s important to point out that the adults who impacted my life in such a huge way at camp were not those closest to me in age. Several were my parents’ age, and others were older than my grandparents. Some were outgoing and funny, while others were thoughtful and soft-spoken. All planted seeds of faith in my life for which I am very thankful ... and determined to continue their ministry through planting seeds of faith in the youths I encounter.
As an adult, my perspective has changed a bit. Serving in youth ministry for more than 20 years has taught me how much of your heart and soul (and blood, sweat, and tears) goes into putting together a week of camp.
We need sowers of faith seeds: adults who will listen, encourage, and play. Games may flop, weather might be unpleasant, and videos may fail. But when United Methodist leaders contribute their personalities, gifts, and abilities to focus on sharing God’s love and grace with kids, camp can be a soul-recharging, awe-inspiring week!
For this article, I was asked to share why I volunteer at camp. However, the more I thought about volunteering and about the impact of camping not only on my life but also on the lives of so many adults, youths, and children, the better question is: Why wouldn’t I volunteer in our camping ministries?
As United Methodist Christians, aren’t we called to "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world"? Camp is transformative. Camp grows disciples. Sign me up!
Could God be calling you to examine your schedule this summer and step out in faith as a camp volunteer?
Scared? God doesn’t call the equipped; God equips the called.
See you at summer camp!
(Audra Fogle of Tulsa is a product of Sixth-Grade Camp, McAlester District Camp, Senior High Trek, and CYME. She directs Senior High Youth Ministries at Boston Avenue UMC and is a member of the Oklahoma Conference Camps Board of Trustees.)