Day Camp by Philip Connors

10421153_10152374438523964_5748418615338163802_n Pathfinders Youth Camp shifted from resident camp to day camp where younger students got to experience acres of action packed activities. Camp transformed from a wildlife reserve to a futuristic land inhabited by robots. We lifted off in our mothership where students got to learn about our Master Creator and our purpose in Him. We then left the mothership and jumped into all sorts of crazy activities such as the anti-gravity machine (tree swing), astrobot training course (obstacle course), the escape hatch (slip-n-slide), and even an army crawl through the infamous mud pit.

One of the beautiful things about God is His love for children and Pathfinders embraces this calling by devoting three weeks of the summer to these students. The staff noticed something remarkable about the difference between resident campers who are older and day campers who are younger. Our day campers personalities shine brilliantly. Each one is undeniably different from the rest of the group.  This makes me thoughtfully reconsider how I view myself and how I live life maybe a bit more genuinely.

God’s creativity and love in creating each individual different and unique starkly contrasts with our resident campers (and me) in the fact that most of us reach an age where we seek acceptance which often times compromises who we are. We allow group and cultural expectations to hide some of our uniqueness. Children do not seem to struggle with this nearly as much. Their individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses are obvious. Ironically, we are here to come alongside parents and help teach children but in reality I was taught more about who I should be than the other way around. We should take a lesson from these children and stop trying to hide God’s creativity in us and embrace our God-given gifts and personalities.

What followed this thought was that Jesus called children unto Him while teaching. He embraced them. As Children in their uniqueness and unadulterated personalities Jesus embraced them. Often times my own faith walk can quickly turn into what I need to change for God. This past week at day camp I was reminded that God isn’t looking exclusively for change. Sometimes He just wants us to spend time with Him and be ourselves. My relationship with God is not just about me making changes in my life (although that is a piece of it), but simply being His child and not trying to be anything different than what He made me to be.

Children say some of the most ridiculous things and are swept aside by adults who do not have time for nonsense. In the busyness of working with so many children it can be easy to do the same thing and be the same adult who thoughtlessly ignores these children until they grow up. God could do the same thing to us. He could simply wait for us to grow up. He could groan from our nonsense and give an exasperated sigh, but He doesn’t. I wish I could hear what the children were saying to Jesus as he allowed them to crawl on Him because I doubt they had anything particularly deep to tell Him. I doubt they asked Him about the significance of life or how best to keep Moses’ Law. I imagine they made trivial jokes and that their eyes wandered while He talked. I imagine some of them blatantly and innocently told Him what their parents thought of Him. And I imagine Jesus took it all in stride with a smile on His face as He listened to their nonsense, all the while enjoying their uniqueness.

Jesus called and loved children. Pathfinders actively engages what Jesus modeled and because of this both the campers and the staff benefit.