Why Camp's the Way to Grow

Eagle Lake Camps, a ministry of The Navigators, has been running programming for kids aged 7-18 for the past 58 summers in the mountains above Colorado Springs. They are currently in need of college-aged male counselors who would serve with them this summer. If you know anyone who could benefit from a summer of spiritual growth at camp, please point them here. Shane Klackner, 22-year-old college grad turned Eagle Lake staff member, tells why camp is the way to grow!

It's an adventure! Leaving school, home, friends, and everything else you know behind for a summer isn’t easy. Stepping out of familiarity and into the unknown provides a sense of insecurity that leaves us on edge—on high alert.

I know! That's what I experienced when I became a counselor at Eagle Lake Camps. Gathering my belongings in a few packs and bins, I began my 1,000-mile journey across the country on the biggest unknown adventure of my life. I headed to camp for three months with nothing but some clothes, my Bible, and an iPod to keep me company. There’s something about following Jesus through an expressive physical action that creates an adventure. I’m sure the disciples felt it, Paul experienced it, and I too now have a story of my own. Venturing out on an unknown journey with the Lord pushes you beyond trust; it leads you to dependence.  
It's a family. Community runs deep, but family is thicker. It is clear that we have been crafted for community and fellowship with others. Nowhere in our design as human beings were we created to be alone. During my first summer as a camp counselor, I experienced being a part of a family that cares deeply, loves unconditionally, serves relentlessly, and pushes constantly. It was in this diverse community of believers where I found my brothers and sisters: my family. 
It's getting unplugged. You have nothing. But yet you have everything. We all know distractions are everywhere—admittingly, I have checked my phone’s ESPN app at least five times since I sat down. With my generation’s constant need for visual and audio stimulation, it’s hard to face the reality of the time we spend using technology (for good or bad) versus the time we take to sit and quiet ourselves before the Lord. When we remove ourselves from society’s pressures, temptations, and distractions and enter into the quiet, our souls then enter an opportunity to commune with the Father on a whole new level.

At Eagle Lake, I had a whole summer of living in the Word and allowing it to live through me. For guys, leaving behind computers, phones, and maybe even people and going to a remote place like camp provides an intense opportunity for spiritual growth and restoration—away from temptation and worldly distraction.  
It’s becoming a servant. It’s hard to sit and read Paul’s letters or other New Testament writings and not come across a page that doesn’t mention serving. Over and over God reveals to us that a life following Him casts a shadow of servanthood. Being a follower of Jesus and a servant cannot be separated. As the Lord, His Word, and other people are pouring into you at camp, you immediately have an opportunity to pour out. There is a constant rich flow that comes in, which then is required to be poured out. 
It's advancing the Kingdom. Being a camp counselor is more than likely the most challenging thing I have done, yet it's also the most beneficial in my walk with the Lord. Camp does not teach us merely how to serve, camp teaches us to become lifelong servants: servants who are able to see everyday opportunities and use them to advance the Kingdom.
P.S. from Mark Heffentrager, Director of Eagle Lake Camp: Being involved in camping ministry now for more than 18 years, God has never ceased to amaze me. He continually brings us staff from all walks of life and has a way of meeting them at Eagle Lake like no place I have ever seen. Students come to us with all sorts of circumstances—both past and present. Time and time again I see God lead them through their own brokenness and into a place where they recognize their impact in this world as disciples of Christ. The transformation that takes place in a staff member’s life in the span of three months at a place like Eagle Lake is nothing short of incredible. If you know anyone who could benefit from a summer of spiritual growth at camp, please point them here