Thursday, August 20, 2009

from dirtboard Jeremy

My family and so many others came to family camp and it was a great way to end the summer. To see the love that others have for each other and for God lets me know that camp is here for a reason! God has shown me that my love for missions is getting stronger.

Praying about my future after camp and what God has planned for me gives me more and more confidence that a camp ministry is in my future.

The campers and staff have been great this summer and God has been loving with all of it.

Thank you God for this camp and for every other camp that you use!!!

Jeremy Costalez
Dirtboards/Program Staff * Summer 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking Ben Nelson * Counselor

As I look back on this summer of camp, I can honestly say that my predictions of what camp was going to be like were 100% wrong. One example that I have of this can be taken from the first day that the majority of people arrived for staff training. As everyone huddled around the apple trees trying to make a good impression by starting conversation and not saying anything too stupid- in comes Pastor Jim Mailloux. While everyone is deep in the awkward stage of introductions, he decides to make an appearance on Josh’s video camera to introduce everyone to Camp Gilead summer of ’09. He starts yelling into the camera like a mad man, and goes around interviewing new staffers (who, at the same time, are trying to avoid him so that they can keep their newly-developed image somewhat clean). To this day, I still believe that this is a very taboo subject in all things “camp”. It is very funny to look back afterwards and to see how everyone responded in this situation. If any staff member had been in this situation mid-way through the summer, there would have been no problem. In fact, it would have most likely evolved (with some help of course, because, we all know that…. ‘that didn’t happen by chance!!’- ‘no way!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. :) into some huge ordeal.

Ohhhh, campers. Where to start? Of course!- my favorite camper quote. But, unfortunately, I can’t pick one- so I will have to pick two. My second favorite quote has to be when one of my campers spoke up in chapel to tell the pastor (with fill conviction) that he was incorrect in saying that “obey” was one word. Later, I briefly explained that he would have been correct if only he had said “syllables”. And here is my favorite camper quote of the whole summer: “Ben, are there really squid in the pond?” I will never be able to forget that even if I try to. Nor will I be able to stop searching for squid in the pond. ;) On a serious note: I cannot begin to explain how blessed I was by each and every camper that was in my cabin this summer. Though there were times of ups and downs, times of happiness and sadness, times of crying and laughing, times of exhaustion and coffee, times of dirtiness and (sometimes) cleanliness, times of gross-smelling clothes and fresh smelling clothes (on monday)- there is not a doubt in my mind that God had each and every camper in my cabin for a reason. I was able to get to know each camper that was in my cabin, and had an idea of what God was doing in each of their lives- whether or not they knew Jesus Christ as their personal savior. And for those that came into my cabin that do not know the Lord, I can only pray for them, that the Holy Spirit might work in their hearts. Glory to God for an awesome summer, and for all the work that has been done in these campers’ lives.

Ben Nelson
Counselor Cabin 11 * Summer 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 amy craig - counselor

Wow. That's all I can really say. Camp was AMAZING this summer! Coming from California, not knowing anyone or how to do anything, I was very nervous about working at camp. But God definitely knew what He was doing when He opened up the doors for me at Gilead. I learned so much, and was able to help my campers learn more about God and His creation.

It was incredible to see God working in their lives! Camp was definitely a growing experience for me. I'm not usually the one to get up in front of people or lead a devotion, but at camp those were some of the things I needed to do. With God's help, I was able to lead devotions every night, be silly in front of the kids, and even share my testimony in front of all the campers. I had to come way out of my comfort zone to do God's will, but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. Being part of all those kids' camp experience and just being able to work for God was truly amazing.

Amy Craig
Camp Counselor Summer 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What God Can Do When You Let Aimee Parkinson

Amazing and stretching! Those two words pretty much sum up the summer. Looking back I had always said that I would never work at camp as a counselor, but God had TOTALLY different plans in mind. He knew that I needed to work at camp and he made it work out so perfectly that I had to just trust him to know what he was doing.

Pretty much all summer God has been teaching me to trust him completely and rely on him for strength and guidance. Even the weeks when I had a tough cabin and was ready to quit God just kept reminding me that I needed to rely on him and his strength and not my own. This summer I was forced to be outgoing and get involved, instead of just being in the background. I normally am not outgoing and that was one of the biggest fears I had about working at camp, but God again knew that working at camp was just what I needed in stretching me in that area. I also learned a lot of patience; patience with my campers, patience on the direction of my life, and total surrendering to the fact that God’s in control and I’m not.

God worked in amazing ways this summer. I can tell you right now that it was not from me or anyone on staff working magic, but it was all God working through us to see his will and plan accomplished. God worked in the big things and even the little things this summer. Even the small things that we think don’t matter as much God takes those and uses them for his glory. When we allow God to use us he does so in extraordinary ways! He stretches you and molds you into the person he wants you to be.

A song that I’m always reminded of is the song “ Use me here, where I am I’m not going to pray anymore that u’ll change your plans despite my fears I place my life in your hands the future can wait tomorrow might be to late so use me here.” God wants to use us, but we got to be willing to not let obstacles stand in the way.

God is totally amazing and this summer will be a summer that I will never forget. Not just from the amazing friendships I’ve made, but from the things that the Lord taught me. God is definitely not done working in my life, but this summer was just a glimpse of how big my God is and how much he can do in and through me if I only let him.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Aimee Parkinson
Camp Gilead Counselor * Summer 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coming Full Circle Part 2 ... by Craig Haskins

The song God of Wonders has had a different meaning to me this summer. When I sing this song I think about how big God is. I think about the stars, the moon, and the sky. I am always in awe of how big the universe is compared too little ol’ me. I am in awe that God is so big that, He can even handle the small things. The small prayers that staff say every summer at camp like, “God give me energy” and “God give me encouragement” He hears them and whether or not He says yes, He is always intertwined in ever aspect of our lives. I am proud and honored that this is the God that I sing and give praises to; this is the God that I serve! This is the God that created the mighty star beetle juice and this is the same God that created me.

Lord of all creation
of water earth and sky
The heavens are Your Tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high

God of wonders beyond our galaxy
You are Holy, Holy
The universe declares Your Majesty
And You are holy holy
Lord of Heaven and Earth
Lord of Heaven and Earth

Early in the morning
I will celebrate the light
When I stumble in the darkness
I will call Your name by night

Lord of heaven and earth
Lord of heaven and earth
Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth
holy......holy....holy God.....

Precious Lord reveal Your love to me....Father holy.....Lord God Almighty...
The universe declares Your majesty
You are" holy,holy,holy,holy
Halleujah to the Lord of heaven and earth

Craig Haskins
High School Staff Leader
Camp Gilead Summer 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm glad I was a Adam Smith * Counselor 1998

For those don’t know me, I’m a former counselor from 1998 (Summer Safari!) and now teach music at Seattle Christian and privately. Being a counselor started off being tough for me but by the end I didn’t want to leave; God used the staff at Gilead to change my life. This year, I was privileged to help out during staff training week and sporadically dropped in to play guitar or whatever at chapels and for Sunday nights. I’m also a regular at TLC; you might know me from there as did many campers and counselors.

I got to know several members of the staff fairly well – as has been evidenced in the blogs and elsewhere, the 2009 staff is amazing! It’s an incredible collection of people God has gifted and assembled. I’ve known the Moyers and Mallorys for quite some time, and it was great to meet everyone else. Several I got to know fairly well, and also I was the prayer support person for Jason Quey. From a semi-outsider’s perspective, the energy, even when they were tired, was intense. And, from my nearly weekly trips to Gilead, I got to see in snapshots the synergy and growth of the team; allow me to share couple of the very special things done by God through these people that I felt extremely blessed to see.

Before I was a Counselor, I had witnessed to many people, shared my testimony, and seen results from these things. This being said, I never yet actually was present to see someone receive Christ, let alone lead them to the final step myself. I will never forget the moment, up by the rifle range, when one of my campers received the Lord as Savior – the first time I was there for the ‘great destination reversal’! It changed everything, and my life hasn’t been the same since. Later, during one of the Junior Camp weeks, I had Tyler Pagel and his brother in my cabin. Admittedly I had no idea what I was doing as a Counselor (yet… I got better, I hope) and was praying that God would somehow use me in some way. He did, and the blessings continue to this day. Jump to 2009 - if you haven’t read (now Counselor) Tyler’s blog, from July 23, please go read it now! I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to see how God allowed such a backwards idiot sinner as myself, with zero previous camp experience, to be used by Him in this way. You see, Tyler told me that 1998 was part of how he came to love Camp Gilead. If that weren’t enough, later during the summer Tyler and I talked and he told me about how he just had the same experience of leading his first person to the Lord, and how it changes everything. God is amazing!

The other one is the “happy Counselor look.” It’s something that every Counselor and regular visitor or participant in camp ministry has seen and experienced, and I love it every time I see it. At Camp, for some reason it seems more special. I was hoping I would get to see it at some point during the summer, and God put me in just the right place for it to happen. I met Counselor Teanna Alsum during staff week, and she, like me in 1998, was wondering in what way God would choose to use her and was, again like me, a little concerned and apprehensive about her first campers coming in. Fast-forward to about a month later - after a chapel the Pastor asked any campers who wished to stay behind and talk to their Counselors. I was outside on the bench with my friend Will, who hadn’t been out to Camp Gilead before, and I told him quietly – “Look, Will, this is one of my favorite parts: the kids staying behind and talking with their Counselors and getting things right with God.” While I was having major flashbacks from 11 years ago, the three girls with Teanna got up, with her following behind them, and there it was. The “happy Counselor look” – a certain glow in the eyes and a calm smile that says, “Wow, God just did something amazing.”

“I’m glad I was a Counselor… sing along now…”

Adam Smith
Camp Counselor * Summer 1998

Thursday, August 13, 2009

For His Name Megan Franklin Girls HS Staff Leader

I remember when I was a camper I always wanted to sit in the front row of the victory circle steps. It was the warmest, naturally closest to the fire, closest to Jack and Kimberly with their guitars, least distracting, and really just the best spot as a whole with all the other voices singing around you.

Being the center of attention has always been like this for me. It’s warm place. A good place. There is a sense of safety…security maybe? Yet, God has been teaching that often times the center of His will is on the sidelines, behind the scenes, in the crowd, and doing the dirty work. What a challenge this is.

Being the girls’ high school staff leader to ten young ladies has taught me that hard work and genuine hearts are what He uses. Each one of those sweet girls—some quiet, some out-going, perceptive, good-humored, charming, detailed, expressive, thoughtful, competitive, determined, loyal, and true—has brought a piece of God’s goodness to our group through their labor, their prayers, and their growth. Cleaning bathrooms, serving food, doing dishes, and taking a cabin to archery has never seemed so glamorous or appealing.

Also, I have had the chance to live and work with the cooks and the lifeguard. These ladies we call “Support staff.” And that they are. From just being available for setting up a game, cleaning, or taking a cabin, to being a listening ear, a source of encouragement, and an example to my high school girls—these women are a picture of godly service behind the scenes.

As I look at the end of this summer, much like one might look at the end of a week of camp, I am challenged to not forget the lessons I have learned. It is not about me. It is not even about what I do. It is about being obedient and available for Him and what He wants to do with this life.

In my quiet time yesterday, I was reading Psalm 23. This picture of being a part of a flock of a sheep is much like being a part of summer camp staff or sitting on the victory circle steps. He is my Shepherd, and I am small. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul, and He guides me in paths of righteousness for—not mine but—His name sake.” (Ps. 23:1-3)

Megan Franklin
Girls High School Staff Leader
Camp Gilead Summer 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I like knowing God the Jared Hageman

Touchdown Beavers! Hawks win! Goodbye baseball! These phrases make me think of my favorite sports teams and some of the great moments I’ve had following them. These teams might provide entertainment sometimes, but I like knowing God the best! This summer, I have had a front row seat to what God is doing in so many lives.

I have seen God work in an impressive amount of campers’ lives this summer. Some of them trusted in Him for salvation for the first time! What value does a college football upset have compared to a person being saved from the penalty and power of their sin?

Many campers came to camp already believing in Christ and it was awesome to see them learn more about Him and have a better relationship with Him. Many were challenged to put Him first in their lives, to spend time in His Word, and to share His love with others.

Even as a staff member, I learned a ton and was encouraged in my walk with God. One of the greatest lessons I learned this summer was about how awesome God is. I used to sing the line “Forever, author of salvation” (in Mighty to Save) as a general statement. I always thought about how God sent His Son to die for our sin. Now, I sing that line thinking about the fact that God authors salvation in every life. God didn’t just write part of the salvation story, He wrote every individual chapter!

I have struggled in writing this, simply because it isn’t possible to put into words just how awesome God is and how much work He did at camp this summer. All I can say is that every other aspect of my life looks quite trivial after this summer. Sure, I’m still looking forward to all the fun events on my calendar, but I like knowing God the best because only His work has eternal value!

Jared Hageman
Camp Counselor
Cabin 14 * Summer 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

do work! - Jason Quey

As the summer comes to a close, I’m amazed at the work God has done through the staff at Gilead. One thing that I knew coming into this summer that would be different than the previous summers I’ve worked at Camp Gilead was that I’d be working a lot less directly with the campers. What I began to realize, was that my role in leading campers to Christ or other spiritual decisions this summer would be totally different – my role was to help the counselors to effectively reach out to their campers. With 94 kids receiving Christ as their personal Savior and 87 dedications, I feel honored to be a part of this life-altering summer.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Jason Quey
Program Staff

Monday, August 10, 2009

megan's girls...

This has been a summer of friendships, leadership, laughter, trials, tears, hugs, challenges, sleep deprivation…

The list could go on but I will spare you all! I was placed as girl’s head counselor this summer and couldn’t have asked for a more stretching position. I was taught how to love and encourage others through the rough times, while at the same time I worked with God on some of my own personal challenges…talk about multitasking! My girls are beautiful woman of God and it was a privilege to see their growth.

Elizabeth – has a very independent and stubborn heart. She gave 110% to her campers and did not let others sway her ministry.
Laurren – was able to pull through some hard weeks of junior campers only to discover she has a knack for children and service.
Emily – stepped in as a counselor during the last week of campers and blew us all out of the waters. Thank you for all of your hard work, even if you didn’t know what you were doing at times!
Ali – has a tender and quiet heart, which is such a blessing to this team. She is a very dedicated individual with a strong passion to serve others.
Aimee P – grew a lot as a leader! I watched her crawl to the finish line with a smile on her face. Her love is infectious!
Amy C - She took the time to get to know her campers and built a lot of strong friendships. She has a very genuine and caring heart…and I am blessed to have been her leader!
Melissa – has a vivacious and loud drive for ministry! She connected with her campers on such a unique level and it was fun to see her outgoing personality used as a ministry tool.
Lindley – came the farthest and grew the most. Her passion for Camp Gilead began in Georgia and I am excited she was a part of our team. She not only brought the south to Washington but she brought a breath of fresh air to the staff.
Elisabeth – is not only an amazing counselor but an incredible friend. She loves to be around others and has a special way with the campers. Each week you could see the adoration in her camper’s eyes!
Teanna – is another tender-hearted counselor who really sought after God’s own heart this summer. It was encouraging to see her strive for growth.
Ashley – is always full of fun and laughter; willing to jump in wherever needed! I watched her persevere through tough stuff this summer and it was a blessing to see!

I saw growth in myself as a leader and as a loyal friend. Christ squeezed my heart so tight that I had to lose it, in order to gain it. Matthew 16:25 now makes sense: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

Megan Stephens
Camp Gilead Program Staff

Saturday, August 8, 2009

around the campfire

Last night as we sat around the Victory Circle one last time we were totally blessed by the campers sharing their decisions to walk closer with Jesus, to read their Bible more, to listen and obey their parents, to stop saying foolish things ... and on they went.

There were so many campers standing waiting to share a spiritual decision that we eventually had to cut them off and encourage them to share their decision with their counselor.

And now they go home...

For a camp counselor this can be a bittersweet time. The time that has been invested is great and many times the rewards of that work come surprisingly quick while at camp. But as the lives of the young campers are opened up, many times it is realized that the support at home for their newly found faith in Jesus is not exactly at the greatest of levels.

For others - they will be returning to homes of great encouragement and spiritual wisdom.

I remember those Saturdays as a young camper...going "down from the mountain" feeling like there was ... no place like place like camp... And truly there is no place like camp. But - camp is not the real world and all of us at some point have to leave this place of spiritual security and walk back down the mountain to what we call the real world.

Kimberly Mallory
Camp Gilead Program Director

Friday, August 7, 2009

numb thumbs...from Day Camp Director Erika Heins

I’ve found that, as program staff, my job involves more behind-the-scenes work than actual one-on-one interaction with campers. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m glad to be sorting T-shirts and putting together power points while the counselors run all over camp with a flock of kindergarteners behind them. Sometimes it’s not so much fun, like when I cut out almost a hundred little paper birds and fish for crafts.

But although the different work can be both a relief and a burden, it can also be a distraction. It’s easy to begin thinking that getting all the coloring pages copied and the puppet stage set up are matters of life and death. But they really aren’t. The true matter of life and death is whether or not these little children have a chance to choose Jesus as their Savior.

I got a fresh reminder of this just after chapel today. In previous days, we had talked about sin and how Adam and Eve had been punished for it, and about how God promised to send a Savior. Today the entire chapel lesson was about how God had kept His promise by Jesus’ death and resurrection. After singing a couple of slower songs about Jesus, I told the campers to stay behind with their counselors if they had any questions. I led the campers who didn’t need to stay over to crafts at the pavilion.

As I helped the campers glue birds and fish onto their creation posters, one by one six girl counselors came up to me with smiles all over their faces. “Lily just got saved!” “I just saved Ainsley!” Several of them had never led anyone to Christ before—but if their glowing faces told me anything, they’ll be wanting to do it again.

As campers finished their crafts and ran out into the field to play Red Rover (never mind how many bumps and bruises it delivers! They always want to play it), I stayed behind to pick up the leftover birds and fish and scoop the crayons back into the box. Those campers had taken the first step in a breathtaking journey. And those counselors had discovered the wonder of sharing their faith. I couldn’t stop smiling.

So that’s why I cut out birds and fish until my thumb went numb.

Erika Heins
Day Camp Director

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

from aimee parkinson - counselor

This week has been so much COOLER so far, compared to last week! It's the last week of resident campers for the summer. God has been working in amazing ways all summer.

Last night Pastor Troy Harvey gave the message of salvation in chapel. Many campers made decisions for Christ. For example, I had a camper come out after chapel. She grew up going to AWANA but had never made the deicison to follow Christ for herself. Last night she chose to have a relationship with God for the first time. She was so excited that she had a hard time getting ready for bed, because she was so excited to have God living in her heart. During devos, she shared the decision she had made after chapel and it was amazing to see the other campers hug her and be excited for her. As we closed our devos in prayer, one of the girls asked if she could pray. It was so cool to listen as she prayed for Kayla - the girl who got saved - and her decision to ask Christ in her heart.

God is working and each day I am reminded that I could not have done it on my own. Only through God can we do amazing things. God gets all the praise and glory for what He has done this summer!

Aimee Parkinson
Counselor Cabin 3

Monday, August 3, 2009

can it be???

How does this happen?

We just began our last week of youth camp!

Our staff welcomed 180+ resident campers and 40+ day campers this morning!

They came in this morning...excited and ready for a week of memory making and fun!

Pastor Troy Harvey from Olympia WA is our speaker this week and we are looking forward to some exciting chapels and singing some brand new songs centered around Creation and our Creator!

More to come...

Kimberly Mallory
Camp Gilead Program Director