Camp is typically associated with the idea of spending an immense amount of time outdoors, simply pitching a tent and living off nature. Though it does encompass a great amount of outdoor time, it goes beyond your typical weekend camping experience—a weekend simply does not suffice.
It is not enough to say that camp was, quite literally, a Great Adventure this past summer. Interacting with children and watching them get to experience Jesus on their own is beyond what a simple camping trip can offer.
I worked as summer camp staff at Camp Wakonda in 2022. I’ve been going to camp meetings since I was a baby so Wakonda has been a huge part of my life, and it’s been an even greater part of my life in recent years.
In 2021 I attended teen week at Wakonda. It was probably one of the most influential weeks of my life, as well as one of the many reasons I decided to apply to work at Wakonda.
Every week I spend at Camp Au Sable is extraordinary, but one I will absolutely never forget happened when I was a 10-year-old camper. I was thrilled and terrified to be away from home for the first time. The week consisted of crafts, games and amazing friendships, but the most memorable moment happened during the Friday night play.
“If any of you want to accept this call and give your life to the Lord in baptism, come up front.” Nobody. All was silent except for a few emotional sniffles in the distance. A tear ran down my cheek that I hoped would go unnoticed; but someone did notice. The assistant counselor of my cabin, Emory Dent, grabbed my hand and walked with me toward the greatest decision I've ever made. I've never looked back.
Camp Wagner is a special place for so many of our young people, especially our inner-city youth. It is always amazing to see the simple yet splendid display of God’s nature captivating their attention. A night sky filled with stars so numerous, big and bright you can hear gasps of wonder and excitement. Or the silence at night, something many campers often never experience in the hustle and bustle of big cities.
Camp Wagner is a unique space that creates a change of pace and environment for many of our campers. One of the major factors that motivate the staff is that we get to partner with God and be conductors of His grace and mercy. Junior Camp has proven itself as a place where many of our young people make decisions to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Last summer we celebrated 13 baptisms, and we look forward to what God is going to do this year and beyond.
Camp has always been a place where old friends meet, new friends are made, and memories that last a lifetime are built. Camp is also a place where our campers see Jesus in all that we do and say. Each summer, campers leave camp with a resolve to serve Jesus.
This past summer at Tween camp I was called into the girls village on Monday night. A camper was threatening to go home. There were a lot of strong “feelings” going on as I walked in the door. Tensions were high. With God’s leading I came into the cabin and sought common ground with the group. The mood lightened and with a prayer in my heart I began to unpack the stressful situation. I asked the girls if they understood what I was saying. One of the campers, who had been deep in the tension, smiled and said, "This is where we all tell Pastor Charlie yes we totally understand.” Tension melted from the room, and the rest of the week went well for everyone in that cabin.
In summer 2023, Andrews University will host several camps that provide opportunities for participants to grow academically, spiritually and socially.