Tag Archives: Camp Wapogasset

Bible Camps still needed?

campwapo_bannerThis week I have invested my time and energy with the children and youth of Resurrection Lutheran Church. I have been at Camp Wapogassett near Amery, Wisconsin. The children and youth here love to  play large group games, sing and dance at campfire, hang with friends and be in an intentional, intensive Christian community.

Part of each day is devoted t0 studying the Bible as a cabin group. Though this may not be a child’s favorite part of the week, it is still a crucial part. After all, Wapo is a Lutheran BIBLE camp. There is a purpose to having our children and youth grounded in the stories and teachings of this ancient book.

When I was in college, I served as a camp counselor at a Lutheran Bible camp in Washington State. The program director one summer was a psychologist who was skeptical of the value in spending time each day in studying God’s Word. He thought we would be better off simply focusing on human relationships and how we love and care for one another in meaningful ways. He was a persuasive individual and he did help us see the value in building healthy relationships with the campers and each other.

Yet some of us challenged his assumption that spending time in the Bible was unproductive. We reminded him that our Christian love for one another is shaped and nurtured by God’s love for us. Without the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, our love can become sentimental and weak. Most of us were camp counselors because we had experienced God’s love in a powerful way through God’s Word. The Bible had touched our lives and so in turn, we want to share that “good news” with the children and youth who came to camp. I continue to see that same enthusiasm among the many counselors at Camp Wapo.

I recognize that taking time to study God’s word can seem boring to a child when there are nine-square games, swimming beaches and gaga pits just beyond the cabin walls. Still the very act of studying and discussing the stories of Bible plants the seeds of faithful living. I rejoice that we still have Lutheran BIBLE camps.

In what ways has Bible Camp touched your life?

Lord Jesus, bless and guide our Lutheran Bible Camps and their staff.

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Family of God

I am away with Family Camp at Camp Wapo near Amery, WI. Nearly a dozen families, many with young children, came to share time together. Even though I made the journey alone, I was immediately swept up into games of hide and seek, yarn introductions and campfire songs. Though threatening thunder storms cut our campfire short, we still enjoyed a crazy camp skit and plenty of snacks.

HeidemannThis morning the families participated in a family devotional scavenger hunt. They followed clues to various hidden scripture boxes scattered around the camp. Each scripture box had a Bible verse they read and a short activity related to it. For example, they read about God creating human being, by breathing into the man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). The children then blew bubbles as a way to think God’s breath/spirit in their life.

JensensI took advantage of the Bible activity based on Matthew 11:28. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” I took a short nap.

Saturday afternoon families are enjoying the beach, taking pontoon boat rides and playing in the gaga pit. It is a chance for children to play together and adults to have relaxing conversations. The sun even poked its head out from the clouds.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples when his family sought him out.

Then Jesus’ mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” Mark 3:31-35.

At family camp and on Sunday morning Resurrection lives out the sense of being family together. We are brothers and sisters one to another when we do the will of God. I came to family camp alone, yet I am surrounded by family.

Thanks be to God.

Marathon Challenge

12 medals from 12 races

12 medals from 12 races

This morning I ran with my friend, Mike Johnson. He recently completed a significant challenge: to run twelve marathons in twelve months. He started with the Houston Marathon on January 15, 2012 and finished with same marathon on January 13, 2013. Mike had been an all-American in cross-country at St. Thomas in 1980’s, but marathons had been a struggle for him. He wanted something that would be a challenge physically, mentally and spiritually plus become a way to raise funds for Camp Wapogasset where he works and serves.

What Mike discovered in the process of running is that challenges are not always fun. His first marathon was fast and fun, but then the constant grind of preparing, running and recovering from each marathon wore him down. Several times he thought about quitting, casting the whole challenge aside. But some internal voice kept pushing him to do one more training run, one more marathon, and one more recovery jog.   He had an internal drive to finish what he started.

I would not have criticized Mike if he had stopped the challenge early on. After all many people thinking running 26.2 miles once is crazy, let alone a dozen in a year. Yet I marvel at his perseverance and tenacity.

Perseverance is one of the spiritual values highlighted in the New Testament.

let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:2.

In a culture that seeks instant gratification, the Christian life is counter-cultural, valuing perseverance and patience. Jesus persevered through his suffering and crucifixion. Paul persevered in his missionary travels.

Mike’s challenge was pretty mild compared Jesus and Paul.  But Mike’s example showed me the constant challenge to persevere in my calling. I doubt that I will ever run 12 in 12, but I know that running my “race with Jesus” is going to call me to persevere through difficult and challenging times.

The good thing that both Mike and I know, Jesus runs with us all the way.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me the strength to persevere.

In Our Midst

At Camp Wapogasset this week, a college-age counselor spoke during chapel about the significance of Christian community.   She evoked the camp theme “In Our Midst,” based on Jesus’ promise, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20.  The counselor spoke of the challenges her family faced when her father was laid off from his job and had to search 18 months for a new job in a different state.  She knew that God was giving her strength through the Christian community she experienced on staff at Camp Wapogasset. Her words in turn gave hope and life to those who listened, including me.

Near the end of her talk she quoted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together, in which Bonhoeffer described his work to build a confessing Lutheran Seminary in Nazi Germany.

But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him.  He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation.  p. 23

Campers Enjoy Community

God has created us to be in community, but we often resist it.  Our American culture celebrates the rugged individualist who creates success by his or her self: the self-made man or woman.  Yet I cannot be fully human without being connected to others.  God made me to be with others, with my faults and inconsistencies as well as my strengths and gifts.   Only in community with other Christians do I fully experience the vibrant life of faith in Jesus.

I am so thankful the children and youth have the opportunity to experience Christian community, with all its joys, sorrows, sweat and discomfort through mission trips and Bible camp. Remember, wherever two or three are gathered in his name, Jesus is in our midst.

In what ways or places have you experienced authentic Christian community?

Lord Jesus, show me the path that leads me to community with others.

Rain Down Your Love

Campers Smiles Tell It All

I am at Camp Wapogasset near Amery, WI with 40+ campers.  Yesterday and today have had frequent thunderstorms.  We lost electrical power this morning and had to eat breakfast in the dark.  The kids have not been able to play the big outdoor games nor swim.  Yet the staff has been creative seeking ways for the youth to be active and positive.  Afterall, the theme of the week is community in Christ and this kind of adversity can build stronger bonds of friendship and faith.

This morning for chapel the kids raced in prior to a downpour.  The staff had connected a generator to the sound system so that the kids could sing praise and hear scripture.  They had the youth movin’ and groovin’ to contemporary praise songs.  The skit centered on Matthew 25 and how Jesus comes to us through the needs of others.  Benny gave a short talk about how Jesus was able to work through his disability for God’s glory.  The love of
God was raining down all around.

How do you handle challenges when your expectations are not met?

Lord Jesus, work in my life today, through any challenges or rain.