PYC Making Disciples by Philip Connors
The quiet woods and calm waters here at Pathfinders are once again alive with adventure as the fields, woods, and water were stormed by campers. Six new additions to the low ropes course have been added putting both new and returning campers to the test. The capstone of these challenges though is Big Bertha, the behemoth climbing wall nearly 50 feet high, putting campers into the uncomfortable element of floating in the air while trying to ascend and navigate their way to the top to ring a bell which echoes through the woods with a victorious clang. Students rappel back down gently landing on the ground where many collapse under their own weight from the exhausting climb, but always with a giant smile on their faces.
Beyond all these adventures though lies the heart of Pathfinders mission – connecting students to God. The success here is being shown through discipleship. Students are not simply experiencing a week at camp rather many returning students are plugging into Pathfinders mission and are seeking avenues to serve here. They have experienced God and they have seen the value in the atmosphere of camp in helping others make that connection. Past campers are returning and are volunteering as junior counselors and work crew.
As a camper myself, I experienced what it was like to have genuine staff show true interest in my faith development which in itself drew me towards volunteering that summer four years ago. Through those years I became an active member of the Christian community. I made Christ my center and knew He was calling me to live for more than myself. This is what these campers are experiencing. They have difficult struggles in these formative teenage years and camp correlates these tough life struggles into the variety of challenge courses. These challenge courses such as the ropes course and obstacle course bring students face to face with frustration, but staff members intent on discipling are brought to their side to show faith-based avenues to handle adversity. This is the reason behind so many campers coming back to volunteer. Campers turning counselors shows success in discipleship. The heart of God desires us to know Him more deeply and discipleship provides opportunities for depth.
One of the reasons I love Pathfinders is seeing this discipleship noticeably take place over the years. My first summer as a counselor I experienced a lot of personal growth but I doubted whether or not a week at a camp could truly change a kid’s life. Four years later I am convinced it can. I have worked with students who adamantly rejected God who today proclaim His name. Students who struggled with sin have been able to attach themselves to the true vine – Christ – and overcome sin through the power of God. Many experience the only environment of love they will have all year. Camp is fun filled but ultimately it is the staff who live Christ out in their lives who bring these students back. Jesus told his disciples to make disciples. This is visibly happening at Pathfinders. My life and love for Christ is the result of being discipled by devout Christians committed to Jesus’ command “Go.” Students connecting with camp today are experiencing the same discipleship and will be the vessels used to form the next generation of deeply committed Christians. Despite Pathfinders being relatively new the impact is great. A harvest is being reaped and workers are being raised up.