Summer is drawing to a close, and with it comes the end of another exciting and life-changing camp season. This year Pathfinders was blessed to be able to host two weeks of day camp for K-6 students, and two weeks of residential camp for middle and high schoolers. In total, 108 young people had an opportunity to encounter God and reach their full potential through weeks of fun games, exciting challenges, and Spirit-filled discussions with counselors and guest speakers!
Our theme for day camp was ‘Pirates: Searching for God’s Treasure”, where students embarked on high-seas adventures while discovering what it means to seek God and how we can accept the ultimate treasure of salvation. Regular activities like zip lining into the lake and completing the obstacle course were given a nautical flair, and unique moments like “cannonball” tossing (with water balloons) and pirate-themed movie time made even the rainy days enjoyable. Students worked together as a team to balance atop the “Whale Watch”, a shifting platform in our challenge course, and eagerly volunteered to help lead the dancing and worship session at the end of the day. Several of our younger staff members drew on their own experiences as day-campers many years ago to create an exhilarating and welcoming experience for this year’s campers, continuing the cycle of helping younger generations that our camp was founded upon.
This summer, one of the biggest obstacles we faced was weather forecasts. In both weeks of day camp and much of our residential camp, a high chance of thunderstorms forced us to make backup plans and scramble for cover as soon as the first peal of thunder was heard. Fortunately, our counselors and staff were well prepared to improvise new games or crafts, and our students were happy to have an occasional rest from the busy schedule of camp. Even with storms predicted for most days of camp, we were blessed with enough sunshine to complete the high ropes course and let all campers enjoy a turn on the swing by choice. One blessing that came from the improvised schedule was a post-dinner trip to the ropes course for our second week of residential campers, followed by an impromptu worship service by the light of our campfire. Seeing dozens of young people worshipping and praying together in one of the most iconic locations of summer camp was a powerful reminder that God still provides for our spiritual needs and brings us together in His presence even when our schedules fall apart.
Residential camp was a memorable experience for many of our campers, as we were able to combine regular summer activities like kickball, swimming, and tie-dyeing shirts with counselor led discussion on topics including how to deal with self-image issues and the intrinsic worth we hold as members of God’s creation. These discussions gave us an opportunity to pair spiritual growth with the new friendships we made and allowed students a small group of people to speak openly about the issues they face in their lives. It is our hope that these friendships last far beyond the end of summer and create the foundation for lifelong relationships built on kindness, trust, and encouragement. One special place this was seen was our high school boys group the first week of residential camp. We had a smaller group with only 5 boys, but all of them worked together and showed a remarkable amount of acceptance and patience toward one another, making sure that a fellow camper with special needs was included in every game and activity. Their example of inclusion and dedication to one another set the tone for the younger guys and fostered a positive atmosphere throughout the camp. As one of our staff members eloquently stated, “They are super chill bros, and I love them.”
Now that we have finished our summer camps and sent our students and staffers back to their schools or jobs, the preparations for next year are in full swing. We have already begun praying that God will send us the students, staff members, counselors, lifeguards, and everyone else we need to do His will in 2020, and our repairs and projects are in progress to help Pathfinders continue to be a place for young people to reach their full potential in a safe and exciting environment. Before next summer we have retreats, field trips, church services, and many other opportunities to impact the lives of young people, and we hope you will join us in praying for the physical safety and emotional growth of every person who arrives at our campus. We are hopefully anticipating what God has in store for the future!