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