by Phil Parsons

As soon as we stepped off the vans for high school summer camp at Carolina Point, electricity ran through our veins. The staff’s awesome welcome along with the opportunity for free time around the camp was perfect for our students. From being launched off The Blob in the lake to chilling out by the newly built pool, our kids got comfortable quickly. Before all of us knew it, we were finding ourselves dressed in dark clothing in our cabin teams, ready to accomplish the feat of the police obstacle course. Mud, gunk, an epic fire hose being shot at us and keeping their fearless adult cabin leader clean were part of the overall plan. Teamwork. Camaraderie. Family. Another moment in the week, we found ourselves all dressed to impress in our cabin competition outfits – Army camo gear. It was epic to see from afar. There was no mistaking our group of teens who came together and were competing against other teams and with one another.

Looking back over the past six months we’ve seen an insurmountable explosion on the scene of our youth who need Christ the most. We’ve seen students throughout the past half year who have an understanding of Christ and God, but camp brought to light those youth whose belief systems we had no idea about. One was Kyle. We knew his home life wasn’t the greatest just by his interactions at Club. He was a good kid from the outside, typically cheerful and often open to talk and catch up when he came to Club.

Camp pushed Kyle outside of himself, and apparently, his belief system. He shared with us that he was more of a scientific guy and not into the whole “God thing”. One evening during Club time at camp while we were worshipping, Kyle headed out of the room. I was outside right there with him, check if he was alright. He stood there exclaiming to me, “I just can’t do it…I see how you all worship and I can’t do it. I don’t understand how you all can do it. It’s great, but I can’t sit in there anymore.”

As he calmed down, we walked back in the Club room and listened to the talk. God moved again within him as we walked back to the cabins together. Kyle shared some of his darkest secrets with me and how he felt like he wasn’t going to have a home when camp was over. More specifically, he was looking at jail time for his previous actions before camp. Then he excitedly told me, “I want to have what you all have…I want to believe.” Rather than push hard, I shared how he needed to share things with his cabin mates and leader and that I was there for him. I also shared with him how God was meeting him right where he was in his own mess at camp. No judgment, nothing. Thankfully, Kyle got to meet with the Creator of our universe at camp, all because we didn’t give up on his “awkward” actions and lifestyle.

This is what it’s about. In the trenches, living life, discerning what God has for all of us, one step at a time.


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