I remember my first time at summer camp like it was yesterday. I played in the pool for hours, worshipped with a live band side by side with friends, got sunburnt and lots of bug bites, I played paintball for the first time ever (and sucked at it), I strengthened relationships with those who were at camp with me, and I grew closer to God.

It was an incredible week where I pushed myself and did things I had never done before. It was the best decision I made that summer and has been the three summers since. From experience I can tell you, you will grow closer to God when you serve at HS or MSM camp this summer.

When camp leader sign-ups opened in 2016, I sat in a Crossroads auditorium and watched the video encouraging people to sign up to lead. I saw the Facebook post from Crossroads Student Ministry encouraging people to sign up to lead. I even served as a Middle School Ministry volunteer at a weekly service where, you guessed it I was “encouraged” to sign up to lead. But, I didn’t think I could sign up to lead for a number of reasons:

  1. I had never been to ANY camp. That’s right, my first time at summer camp ever was the time I signed up to lead a group of 7th grade girls when I was a 29 year old adult. Shouldn’t somebody who leads know things like campfire games, how to check a bunk for bed bugs, how to comfort a homesick kid, or how to pee in the woods (okay, I know how to pee in the woods, but not because of camping. That’s another story....). I didn’t even know what to expect at camp, how could I lead students?

  2. I did not feel like a worthy enough leader. Sure, I was learning about God and was growing closer to him, but I had this idea that people who are worthy of leadership should be spending hours studying the Bible, should be living this perfect life, and should know all the answers to the tough questions - like, did it REALLY only take 7 days to create the earth or could time have been measured differently? For some reason, the potential that a student could ask me this specific question scared the crap out of me! If I wasn’t leading a perfect “Christian” life with all of the answers, how could I be a good example for students?

  3. I had a full-time job with Monday - Friday hours. My vacation time was precious, my job allocated 18 days a year to paid time off (PTO) and I treated each day like it was gold. I even went into the office with a nasty cold one time just so I wouldn’t have to take PTO. If you’ve ever done that you know people basically treat you like a leper, but that should tell you how much I wouldn’t waste a PTO day. People with flexible hours, or summers off, or college students home from the summer can sign up to lead, my PTO time is too precious. If I only have 18 days a year, how could I give up 5 just for camp?

The things standing in your way of leading at camp can be overcome. Signing up as interested does not commit you to serving at camp, but signing up starts a conversation to learn more about camp and see if it would be a good fit for you.

There is something special about going off the grid for a few days. It’s why Crossroads does things like Man Camp, Woman Camp, and Couples Camp; it’s why really smart people take sabbaticals; and it’s why we all love vacation (can I get an amen?). The same is true for HS and MSM Camp. You might think that because students don’t have jobs, or email inboxes overflowing with demands, or because they are already on summer break that they don’t need the time away - you’re wrong. God uses this special time with students and leaders to do big things. He provides healing, comfort, and clarity to all who are at camp, whether than are 11 years old or 29 years old, like I was my first time. God moves at camp and I don’t want you to miss that. I experienced a deepening of my relationship with God each summer while I am at camp. I am so thankful that I said yes to MSM and HS camp.

Don’t get me wrong, like all good things Camp is a sacrifice. You’ll be tired. You’ll be uncomfortable at times. Students can be awkward. But camp is worth it. Leading students at camp will push you to a new place. You will grow closer to God when you serve at HS or MSM camp this summer.

Back to those things that almost held me back in 2016,

  1. I didn’t need to know anything about camp. Crossroads staff made it easy with packing lists, game ideas, clear instructions, and a well-planned camp experience that made it simple for a newbie like me to lead. They also provided me with much needed training where I could ask questions and get expert advice from more experienced leaders. Whether it’s your first time at camp or you’ve been many times before, you’ll be fine. And, the staff at Camp Chautaqua takes excellent care of the cabins.

  2. I didn’t need to live the perfect life or have all the answers. To lead at camp, there is an interview and application process because it is an immersive experience and an important role in the lives of students. But, nobody asked me about the 7 days - and even if they had it’s okay to say “I don’t know, let’s look into it together.” I realized it wasn’t about my bible knowledge or how well I prayed out loud. Instead, it was about my character and how well I was responding to God’s voice in my life. Nobody’s perfect. We just want leaders to commit to doing their best to honor God and others when leading at camp.

  3. It was worth giving up PTO hours. Hear me, it was worth every bit of 5 days off work - 5 days of precious time away - to lead at camp. I never regretted it, not even a little bit. Not even in 2016 when I had to work the week between Christmas and New Years, which was usually time I took off. I knew I had made a worthwhile sacrifice.

Let’s talk about camp. Signing up today simply starts the conversation with your Crossroads staff partner. Scary, yes. Time consuming, yes. Worth it, absolutely yes! The things standing in your way of leading at camp can be overcome, God moves at camp, and you will grow closer to God when you serve at HS or MSM camp this summer.


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