My summer at Outlaw Ranch was all about relationships. Developing relationships with families, my age groups, my co-staff and deepening my relationship with God. It was these relationships which brought me back to Outlaw for my second summer and it is these relationships that will give me fond memories for the rest of my life. When thinking about a life in service one thing that continues to interest me is this same concept of building relationships.
Outlaw Ranch is primarily a family camp, therefore the program I was involved in was very different then that of most camp counselors. Each week a counselor was assigned a family and we would eat meals with them, hang out with them, baby-sit if needed, and go on little outings with them thus developing a relationship. After breakfast we had morning worship as a whole community in order to start the day off with scripture, song, and praise and focus ourselves for the day. Afterwards we would divide up into age groups. The kids would go with counselors to have bible study and do other fun activities while the adults had a two-hour bible study session with a resource person that the camp brought in every week.
These two-hours with the kids were always a joy because almost every week I worked with a different age group. Some weeks I was with high school kids and had the opportunity to try and start some deeper discussions about faith; something I particularly enjoy since I am a religion major. Other weeks I was with the 0-3 year olds, 4-6 year olds, 7-8 year olds, 9-10 year olds, and even the 11-13 year olds! This opportunity to work with all different ages made me realize that I don't favor one age. I enjoy working with them all because they each have their own personalities and excitement.
Family camp is a wonderful program that has many different challenges yet many joys. It is so amazing to see the intergenerational activities all week as families foster their growth in faith together. Every week I felt as if I could learn so much from the families simply through listening to their stories. It was an inspiration to see families who came to camp for their vacations because they wanted to grow closer to each other and God.
Another huge aspect of camp, besides the relationships, is being outdoors. Being able to worship outside in God's creation and sing camp songs is an experience that I will remember forever. I love the creativity that worships can have at camp and how the spirit's work seems to be so much easier to spot in that setting. Worship seems to come to life when you are in the midst of God's awesome creation, where it can sometimes become routine at home. It is this ‘life' that I strive to bring back with me from camp. I yearn to feel that energy in a church service at home. I think one way that Outlaw is able to obtain the excitement in worship night after night is that we have our campers help plan worship all week. This means that we are constantly having new ideas and hearing new faith stories! Every night I was in charge of worship I always went into it slightly nervous about how it was going to go but every night I left amazed at the way God had worked through the campers.
There is something to be captured in those twilight hours around a campfire with people who you have grown to love over the week. As you sing the last note of the last song you strive to keep that moment in your heart, remember what it was like and take it back with you into your daily life. That feeling is why I want to go into the ministry. The joy and peace that comes from worshipping with people you have grown to love and trust. That is what the church should be about and it is what I would like to ultimately strive for.
As we say at camp, “Go in peace to love and serve the lord!”
“OKAY WE WILL!”