Sunday, July 28, 2013

Still loving camp ... after 32 years! - Junior Camp Pastor Curt Jones

My experience with Camp Gilead began 32 years ago, in the summer of 1981.  By that time I had been a pastor at my church in Portland for about six months, and I brought a group of middle school kids for a week of camp.  Back then, Camp Gilead used volunteer adults for counselors, so I stayed for the week.  Since then, I have been camp pastor/speaker several times, and my family has been part of Family Camp for many of those years as well.  I have always had deep appreciation for Camp Gilead, for those who have led the ministry, the staff, counselors, and many others who are part of making camp happen every year.  I believe God has used Camp Gilead to have powerful influence in the lives of countless kids, teens and adults.
But, none of that history really matters too much when you are standing in front of a new group of 150 Junior Campers who are excited to be at Gilead for a week of camp!  One of the things I love about being a camp pastor for junior kids is the enthusiasm they show so readily.  They get excited about getting points, answering questions, acting out stories in Chapel, watching puppets, etc., and it shows.  More than that, most kids this age are also very responsive to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  They are not afraid to ask the questions that are on their hearts, nor are they afraid to stand up and go out to pray with their counselor when they feel that God is leading them to do so.  I am grateful for another opportunity to be part of that this year.
I am also thankful for all of those who work to produce a high quality camp for the kids.  I know that what I do in chapel is just a small part of all that makes up the camp experience.  I'm always impressed when I see how smoothly (at least as I see it from the outside) and seamlessly the program fits together in chapel.  There are skits, competitions, videos, worship, and all of it comes off without a hitch most of the time.  That takes a lot of work and planning behind the scenes, and a lot of cooperation together.  Beyond that, there are schedules to plan, facilities to care for, endless details to handle, and it always impresses me to see how it all comes together year after year, thanks to those who so skillfully lead the camp ministry.  I praise God for another opportunity to be part of what God is doing in kids' lives, and I praise God for all those who follow the call of God to serve at Gilead!
Junior Camp #2 Camp Pastor
Curt Jones

Having a Friend at Camp - by Toni Adame

Hey everyone! My name's Toni, and I'm the counselor of cabin 3 here a Camp G. Anyways I'm just going to tell you about an experience I had last Thursday afternoon.

            After dinner Tuesday evening I stopped by Kimberly's office to check my mailbox. In my box was a slip of paper that said,You're telling your testimony in Chapel Thursday night! I had been scheduled to share in two weeks, so I was a little confused. Later that day a staff member explained to me that one of the highschool staff wasn't able to speak, so she had been replaced with me. I didn't let myself stress out about fact I hardly thought about it until Thursday morning when I remembered I still needed to write out my testimony.

            As soon as my hour off came I grabbed my Bible, journal, pen, and headed to my one-on-one  with the girls' head counselor, Megan. For the next forty-five minutes we sat in the grass just past the entrance to the camp. By the end of that time all I had was a few bullet points scribbled on a piece of paper. Side note: Speeches, standing in front of crowds, and microphones really aren't my thing. I was so unprepared, and being unprepared in front of a lot of people is one of the most terrifying things ever! Just laying on the ground my throat started to do that thing where it gets dry and scratchy just before I start to cry. I could tell my eyes were filling with water. I hate crying. It makes me feel weak - it makes me feel vulnerable, so I tried to suck down the tears.

            Sitting there for a few seconds fighting with myself trying not to cry I finally just let it go (I know that sounds sappy, but try to bear with me). I didn't want to cry in front of anyone, but I knew that Megan was here because she wanted to help. She is the best person I could choose to be vulnerable with. I know that she's here to see me through the scary times, so I chose to be truthful about how terrified (notice the word terrified) I really was. At first I felt dumb, but I don't think God wanted me keep all my fears bottled up to suffer alone.

            So, I'm not really sure what it is I'm trying to say by telling you this story. Maybe just that it's so great to know there's a friend I can be vulnerable with. And at Camp there's so much constantly going on that I got to have those five minutes where I can say, I'm freaking out right now please pray for me! It's unhealthy for me to keep it all inside. I have trouble being completely open, but it's awesome when I find a friend who I know is there to pray and bring me cookies after Chapel when I'm finished telling my testimony.


Toni Adame
Counselor - Cabin 3

Camp: A Chance to Be a Kid - by Hannah Knight

This past week has shown me how important a camp such as Camp Gilead is important. Obviously before, I thought this was a wonderful camp but it took a situation this past week to really show how important it is to have a place where kids can learn about Christ as well as a safe place to just be a kid.
 At the beginning of the week I met this little girl and right off the back I knew that she was a quiet girl with an amazing heart. She seemed fine the first day, she was having fun and hanging with the rest of the other girls in the cabin. On Day two, Tuesday, she was paying attention in chapel and seemed so interested in everything that was being spoken about. It wasn’t until later that day during one of our activities that I learned why she was at Gilead. It was later in the afternoon and some of the other girls and I were playing handball, so I hadn’t noticed that she had gone off by herself. One of the LIT’s who was a part of my cabin this week, noticed and sat with her. I noticed her and saw she was crying and ran over. Between the sobs I learned that her mother had sent her and her brother here for the week so they could have a chance to be a kid. Her father has a brain injury that requires their house to have minimal amount of noise possible and this is limiting to a kid. Here was this sweet girl just going into the fourth grade and she was crying because she was sad about her father’s injury but also crying because she was also getting the chance to be a kid. I later thought about my own childhood. I never went to a camp such as Gilead yet I always had the chance to act like a kid, as well as be loud.

                Working here at Camp Gilead has also shown me why people, campers and staffers, come back. In my first week with campers, I had two girls in my cabin that came all the way from Texas and one of the LIT’s comes from Arizona. I used to wonder why one would travel the distance when there must be a camp near them that had the same type of program as Gilead. However, people develop incredible relationships here. There is something different about a friendship that is formed when Christ is at the center of the relationship. Though Christ is not always the topic of the conversation, people feel comfortable to bring Him into the conversation because they know that the people who come here genuinely love Him. That is why they come back to Gilead and that is why a camp such as Gilead is so important to have. 
Hannah Knight
Counselor, Cabin 4

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Joy of the Gospel! - by Nolan Cason

Greetings faithful supporters of Camp Gilead! My name is Nolan Cason, and I'm serving as the counselor of cabin 15 throughout this summer. This is my first summer at Gilead in any capacity, but in a mere three weeks I've already to come to care for this place deeply, and appreciate the incredible impact that it has on the lives of so many. The Spirit moves in incredible ways at this camp.

It was anticipation of this impact I applied for the position of counselor in late April. While I'd never been to Camp Gilead, I've worked as a counselor at different Evangelical Christian camps over the course of three summers, and I've grown up going to camp. In my own life and in the lives of others, I've witnessed firsthand the tremendous power the camp experience has as a tool for youth ministry in God's arsenal. That power was felt this last Wednesday night during Junior Camp #1 (3rd--5th grade).

Our speaker for this week, Pastor Curt Bidwell, had been pounding home the message of the Gospel all week, skillfully intertwining the Good News with the story of King David. During the Wednesday night chapel, he continued in this thread, telling not only of David but also relating the story of Gideon. He established the definition of true faith through an insightful acrostic (Fact not feelings, action, individual response, trails and temptations, and hope), and challenged the campers to respond to God's promptings and accept Christ.

As the invitation was given for those campers who wished to respond to quietly slip out the back and wait for their counselors to join them, I was hopeful. I knew that the Lord does great things with this particular age group. Yet, the response that occurred surpassed my expectations. A majority of the campers, including five of my nine, slipped out their seats and headed out. I'm sure the rest of the staff shared my elation and surprise as we watch the Lord work powerfully in so many young lives.

As I talked with my campers that night and reflected, the Lord impressed two truths on my heart. The first was in relation to one of my guys, whose joy at his own commitment to Christ was uncontainable. I was reminded of just what happens when the Lord gets control of someone's heart, an experience I once shared at camp growing up. His joy was contagious and exciting, an absolute pleasure to witness.  Secondly, I was reminded of the power of the Gospel message in its simplicity. Pastor Bidwell added no garnishments or enticing extras to the Gospel; he simply presented the truth. And the Spirit worked. At few other times have I been reminded of the truth of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Praise to the Name of our Lord, who softens hearts and calls the lost out of the darkness.

In Him and for His glory,

Nolan of House Cason, earl and lord paramount of the fifteenth holdfast, servant of the High King.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What IS it about Camp Gilead? - by Kim Anderson * Staff & Camper Mom

I love Camp Gilead. I love the work the Lord does there. I think every child needs to go there at least once in their lives. I didn’t grow up with my family going to family camp every year, I’m not a present or former staff member, I didn’t even get to go to camp myself each year as a kid. I think I went once when I was in third or fourth grade for a week of resident camp. But that week made such an impression on me, it feels like I went year after year as the memory is so strong. In my adult years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend time at Gilead on weekend retreats, as a volunteer for various events, as a prayer partner and one of the highlights; working in the day camp for a week.  Both my children have attended camp every year as soon as they were old enough, and now they both have had the opportunity to be on staff.

What is it I love about Camp Gilead? Is it the activities? The staff? Bucky? Maybe it’s driving car loads of kids down during the summer for their week of camp. The anticipation as they see landmarks they recognize as we get closer to camp: the Armadillo BBQ, the round-about, the bridge- oh, the bridge… After driving two hours and that bridge comes into view; most know that just across that bridge there will be a line of staff members shouting, cheering, and welcoming them to CAMP GILEAD! We roll down the windows and everyone starts yelling, screaming, the horn honking. It brings tears to my eyes every single time, year after year. Why? Because I know for the next week of their lives they will be immersed in God’s Word. They will be challenged, held accountable and shown CHRIST in word and actions. The TRUTH will be taught, and for many a life changing, life saving decision will be made.

What about pick up on Saturday after a week of camp? Maybe that’s it! Sitting in on closing ceremonies, hearing the staff and children raise voices in song, singing praise to our God and Savior. Arms around each other as they sing that final song, heads bowed in prayer. Is it tearful goodbyes to their counselors, or the running to parents bursting with excitement to share what God has done in their lives that week? Of course there’s the drive home, sharing with me about what they did, learned, how they plan to go forward and continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

What is it that I love so much about Camp Gilead? It is the transforming power of Christ at work in the lives of those who live there, work there, speak there, and attend camps there. God is doing great and mighty things through this ministry and I encourage YOU to experience it too!

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Want to Stay At Camp Gilead Forever! - by Tyler Pagel * Staff Alumni

Looking back on my three summers at Gilead, my perspective has changed quite a bit. During my three summers on staff at camp, I knew I was in the middle of a life changing experience and I knew God had great things in store for me, but looking back could have never imagined the true and full impact of Gilead on my life.

For all of us who have been campers or worked on staff, we've heard it so many times..."I want to stay at camp forever!" I have heard and thought it more times than I could ever wish to count.  Now having some time to reflect since my last summer on staff (2011), I can see why God provides places like Camp Gilead to be a temporary place for a permanent change. The lessons I learned, the people I met and the way Christ worked in me could have only been accomplished in those three summers at camp. Wanting to stay at camp forever is a selfish desire of my flesh not wanting to put what I have learned to the test! I am reminded of a set of verses in Romans chapter 1 where Paul says to the Church of Rome...

 "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you, always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine (Romans 1:8-12 ESV)"

 For me, the desire is very strong to return each and every summer to continue the ministry that happens at Camp Gilead, but understanding and accepting that God's will has men and women who want to serve God there on staff this summer, learning the same lessons that have profoundly impacted my life, is something I rejoice in. I am encouraged by the step of faith that each staff member is taking by being on staff this summer and I am strengthened by the memories that The Lord has allowed me to have at camp.

As Paul wanted so much to be with the church at Rome, many want to be in ministry with God's servants at Gilead. Just as Paul prays without ceasing for the church at Rome, many people across this country pray for you at Gilead. I pray that the ministry at Gilead remains strong, not just this summer, but for decades to come so that God may allow many, many more staffers like myself to be impact through the grace and divine plan of God!

In His Service,

Tyler Pagel * Staff Alumni 2009 - 2011

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Perfect Fit - by Melissa Ruhlman

Hello! My name is Melissa Ruhlman and I am a counselor at Camp Gilead this summer! I have been attending family camp and kids camps literally since I was born, but this is my first summer actually being on staff at this amazing place.

This past week brought the first batch of campers to Cabin 7 (also known as Castle 7)! Since this was the first week of my first summer as a counselor, and it was junior high week, I was extremely nervous Monday morning as my campers began to arrive. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to them, if I could keep order, if they would respect me, if anything I said or taught throughout the week would resonate with them, or if they would even like me. Greeting them, I came to find out that eight out of the nine girls played on the same soccer team together….and at first thought, made me feel somewhat intimidated and even more nervous because I didn’t know if the cabin would be able to mesh together as it ought. Also, I came to realize throughout the week that most all of the girls, as far as I can surmise, had some sort of a relationship with Christ; not necessarily a growing and healthy one, but they all claimed to have made a commitment to Him in their younger years. Because of this fact, and since none of them publicly came forward after any of the chapels to make any spiritual decisions, I began to get somewhat discouraged and feel like a failure in my job as a counselor.
It wasn’t until Friday, after the campfire during the cabin devotions, when I realized how wrong and prideful my thinking was. The girls in my cabin took turns saying one specific thing that they were going to work on or change in their life due to what they had learned during the impactful week at camp. Hearing my girls commit to read the Bible daily, pray more often, and to share the gospel with their unsaved friends and family was so amazing and made me gulp down my pride.  Who was I to question the Lord’s plan for the week and His plan for the girls in my cabin? It is not about how many salvation decisions I can tally down for my cabin, and it is not about what I know and teach during Bible time and the words that I say. It is completely and utterly about God and how He decides to work in my cabin through me, using me only as a tool, as a means to bring about His sovereign plan.
Looking back on the week and the individual girls in my cabin, I can tell that they were all specifically in my cabin because I was exactly like them when I was in junior high. I was crazy, weird, loud, played soccer, and had made a salvation commitment at a young age but didn’t actually live out my faith in everyday life. It was an utterly perfect fit. God used my life experience to be able to relate very well to the girls in my cabin, and I thank Him for being in control of everything, all-knowing, and continuing to use blundering, proud, messed up people like me in His global plan to bring people closer to Him.


Melissa Ruhlman
Counselor, Cabin 7


Friday, July 12, 2013

A "Knight's" Tale - Camp Speaker Tim Counts

I am an “outsider” at Camp Gilead in that I am not here on Staff this entire summer; I am only here for this week (I am the speaker for Teen Camp #1).  But, I am an “insider” at Camp Gilead in that I spoke here in 2006 and I was on Summer Staff from 1998-2001.  Before that I was a Family Camper, my mom was a Kids’ Camper in the ‘60s, and my grandpa was a pastor who was involved with Camp Gilead in the early days.  As my week as a Camp Speaker comes to a close, I find myself praising God for His faithfulness to Camp Gilead.  Many things have changed, but the most important things are the same.  The games may be a little different every year, the theme may be different almost every year, the skits and the music may change, but teaching children and teenagers God’s Word and the Gospel while having a ton of fun has always been the same.

My son Tobias was a Day Camper while my family and I were here this week, and now as a parent and a pastor I am thankful that Camp Gilead is so Bible-centered, Gospel-centered, and Christ-centered.  At the end of the first day, when I asked Tobias what his favorite thing was he said, “Swimming, mini-golf, riflery, boating, and dirtboarding.”  In other words, everything.  Then as he drifted off to sleep he started to sing a song about Jesus that he had learned.  It was refreshing to come back to Camp Gilead this week.  I realized that the reason that Camp Gilead’s heart is my heart is because it is exactly what I believe Youth Ministry should be:  centered around God and His Word while also being a blast.

Teenagers have real questions about God and their relationship with Him.  They are not as superficial as we often think they are.  Camp Gilead is a place that they learn more about Jesus or hear about Him for the first time.  As I think about the 65 years that Camp Gilead has been doing that, 1 Corinthians 15:58 comes to mind:  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Camp Gilead is a testimony to the truth of that verse!      
Pastor Tim Counts
Camp Gilead Camper, Staff Alumni & Speaker

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Camp ... A Lasting Tradition - by Faith Bridges

Family Camp.   Those two words hold so many memories and feelings.  My parents brought me to camp as a tiny baby every year until I graduated from high school.  It was a priority to my parents and I am grateful.  My brother and sister both had the opportunity to be counselors for a couple of summers and my sister even met her husband who was also a counselor.    I spent the summer working on high school staff in 1999 and now just completed my 3rd year at family camp with my husband and daughter. 

When I was a kid, I was so shy.  The idea of making friends and doing camp games just about killed me, but there was always someone who would encourage me and make me feel at home.  It was exciting and fun and by Wednesday I was already dreading the last day and wishing camp could last forever.    

A few things have changed at camp since I was a kid, but truly not a whole lot.  I remember hours of pickle ball and mini golf, time in the tree house and on the merry go round.  I remember riding horses and swinging so high I felt like flying.  As I got older, staying up late with friends and playing games in the dining hall were my new favorite things.  We often got a little too loud, and Jack had to come remind us to keep it down as there were people trying to sleep.  I remember so much laughter and fun.  This surely hasn’t changed. 

The summer of 99, both my husband Darren and I (we were not yet married at the time) came to work at Camp Gilead.  Darren was a counselor in cabin 13 and I served as an LIT.  It was such a wonderful summer and we are still friends with many of those that we worked with.  It is hard work to be on camp staff, but I wouldn’t trade all of the scrubbed dishes and toilets for anything. The laughter, encouragement, and the humble work ethic of my friends could make any job seem fun.   It was an honor to be a part of God’s work at Camp Gilead.

When our daughter, Evelyn was 5 we finally got the opportunity to attend family camp together.   I had been hopeful we could carry on the tradition with our family.  Two of Evelyn’s favorite things are being outside and being with people, so she absolutely loves every moment of camp.   It is such an amazing gift to give her.  She loves her weeks at camp.   She says she’s not quite ready to go to camp without her mom & dad, but I think she’ll be ready soon and she’s already asking when she can be on camp STAFF! 

My parents made family camp a priority and so many of my greatest memories are from family camp and working on staff.  Now, I am making new memories with my family and we are already looking forward to next year.  I believe the baton will keep being passed down as we make camp a priority.  

At camp there is beauty and quiet.  It’s a time to get away from our busy lives and focus on our families.  It’s a place to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  It’s a place for relaxation and fun.  It’s a place for laughter and worship.  Ultimately, it’s a place to meet Jesus and fix our eyes on what is truly important in life, our relationship with our Savior. 
Faith (Blazer) Bridges
Staff Alumni & Family Camper

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Lord's Chosen Workers - Tyler Wells

My name is Tyler Wells, and this is my second summer as a counselor at Camp Gilead.  My first year was an amazing experience, and as soon as I drove away from the camp, I couldn't wait to get to come back.  One of the reasons it was a great summer was that we had an awesome staff last summer.  I made a lot of great friends, and I was encouraged literally every day in several ways by my fellow staff members.  Each one of us was there for a reason...last year.

As I began the process of reapplying for camp a few months ago, it occurred to me that many of the people who had worked at camp last summer would not be able to come back.  Out of four male counselors last year, I was the only one coming back, and many of the girl counselors and program staff and support staff had other plans or obligations for this summer.  At first, this was disappointing for me.  I knew I would miss a lot of people that I had build strong relationships with last summer, and I was unsure of what to expect for the new staff.

Between then and now, after finishing a week of staff training, God has been teaching me something.  I realized that every summer, the staff will be a little different, with some returning faces, some people moving up to higher positions, and some brand new people.  No matter who ends up making the list, one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that the Lord has chosen each person for a specific purpose.  Some people only get one chance to work on staff, and some end up staying for a lifetime, but each year, God hand picks a staff to serve together as brothers and sisters in Christ, so the camp will continue to be successful and so His will can be done.

During staff training, I was so encouraged to see all the returning staff and the new staff come together as the Lord's chosen workers for the summer of 2013 at Camp Gilead.  We all have different stories, strengths, weaknesses, and personalities, but we all have the same goals and purposes of seeing God work to change lives this summer.  I can already tell we have another great group of staff, and I am so blessed to be a part of this team.  Over the next seven weeks, I look forward to getting to know each one even more as we work together, encouraging one another and building each other up.  The Lord has really given me peace about the fact that even though this exact staff will only be together for this one summer, He will continue to provide just the right staff year after year, and when our time on staff is done, He will continue to work in us and through us, wherever he leads us in the future.


Tyler Wells
Counselor - Cabin 14

Saturday, July 6, 2013

95 years old and still coming to camp! - Kimberly Mallory

I have been attending Family Camp at Camp Gilead since I was "in the womb."  Seriously ... my parents started coming to Family Camp in 1974, and they loved it so much that we have only missed one year since then!  For our family it wasn't, "are we going to go?" but rather ... "when is it?"

For me, family camp meant new friends, reconnecting with old friends, hot summer days, 4th of July fireworks, eating meals with other families, late nights and great chapels.

We just finished up another week of family camp this past week.  The weather was amazing and we had an incredible group of GREAT families that attended this year.  Some have come for years while others experienced their "first" family camp week. 

One of the highlights for me is to see past summer staff bring their own families back to Gilead for a week of Family Camp.  We had a couple of staff alumni families, Sara Counts and her two kids as well as Faith and Darren Bridges and their daughter. 

But there was one "staff alumni" that really stole the show this week.  His name was Leland Haggerty and he was here with his son and his grandson.  Leland is 95 years old!  Leland stayed in the lodge with his son and grandson and worked his way around the camp with a walker and a cane.  It was such a blessing to see him and hear his perspective on camp. 

He shared with us that he was with Forrest Johnson when he came out to meet Elma Jenkins Faul, who would donate the Carnation Chicken Farm Property to Tabernacle Baptist Church of Seattle for a Christian youth camp.  WOW!  The stories he told!  (My husband Josh Mallory spent an afternoon filming him sharing his stories!) 

As the week wound down, we gathered around the campfire in the Victory Circle.  Children, moms and dads all shared about how they were blessed throughout the week.  Comments were made about the speaker, Mark Suko, about the staff and how they served the family campers, about the relationships built and about many other aspects of a week at Gilead. 

After the sharing began to quiet down, Tom Ruhlman (my dad as well as the camp pastor) asked Leland to pray.  His strong voice bellowed as he spoke to his God.  He thanked God for the inner workings of what it takes to run a camp.  He spoke clearly as one who knows about the "staff" side of camp ministry.  He challenged us to burn brightly for our Lord in all the places we go.  It was moving and incredibly touching to hear Leland pray and to realize that he was soaking in everything about Camp Gilead just as the rest of us were.  He was given the rare opportunity to see a dream realized.  A dream that had started in the 1940's and that dream was continuing to flourish through the blessing of the Lord. 

It was a special week at Family Camp.  I know many consider coming each year, but for different circumstances are not able to.  I challenge you to clear your calendar for 2014.  You will be encouraged, challenged, blessed and your family relationships will be strengthened!

See you in 2014!

Kimberly Mallory
Camp Gilead Program Director

Friday, July 5, 2013

Strengths & Weaknesses - Craig Haskins

Camp has been a major part of my life.  This is my sixth summer here at Gilead.  Each one has been such a different experience and I can tell all ready that this summer will be following suit.  After my first few weeks, I am excited to see the dynamics of the program staff begin to form.  We are a unique group of people with a wide range of abilities, strengths and also weaknesses.  What is cool is that each persons "weakness" is another person’s strength.  Knowing that I can trust the other program staffers to take on the areas that I am weak in is so relieving and I feel like I am free to work out my strengths to the best of my abilities.  This is going to be a great summer and I am excited to see God will do through the life and testimony of all of the staff this summer.
Craig Haskins
Guys Head Counselor