What Camp Taught Me

Tags: Alaska, Canada, SEND North, Camps, Exploring Missions, Short Term Missions, Story

"There is no glory in early mornings, unanswerable questions, and unruly kids fresh out of school. Still, camp counselors fulfill a sacrificial position in Bible summer camp hoping for just that. In Alaska alone, there are over ten summer Bible camps with these eager servants looking to connect with the village populations.

During my week of service as a counselor at Tanalian Bible Camp in Port Alsworth, Alaska, I led a cabin full of girls from the surrounding villages. I had been a camper before, but I was nervous about my new leadership opportunity with these girls. Then God used one of my campers, Cindy*, to teach me my biggest lesson of the week.

Cindy enjoyed having fun and showed more interest in getting to know people than following the schedule at camp. While the camp is flexible about this, I am a rule-follower type of person. I enjoy structure and that naturally transitioned into my leadership style. As I learned more about the struggles that Cindy faced from her childhood, it made me understand why her personality developed as it did.  I was pushed out of my comfort zone to see that it is less about the structure and expectations we should fulfill, and more about building relationships.

As I learned more about Cindy’s story, I realized how she is not the only child in the villages who struggles. Even though I had seen some of the obstacles they face firsthand, it was still difficult for me to come into camp and see how common these barriers can be. It can be hard for these kids to see God through their struggles, which is why camp is so vital.

Campers, at TBC and camps all around the state, can arrive confused by the mixed messages about God from their village. In my cabin, this confusion was overcome by the other campers showing each other patience and grace while they shared with one another who God was to them. As a counselor, I was humbled by the honesty, transparency, and kindness shown by my campers. I had spent my entire week focused on trying to keep my girls within rules I projected on them so they would not reflect negatively on my ability to lead. My young campers showed me how to submit to God’s plans instead of my own.

Countless stories remain untold of the grace and safety provided to young village children through Bible camps like Tanalian. If you are interested in volunteering next summer at one of these camps, click here.  If you do, God is sure to teach you some amazing lessons.

If you see the impact these camps provide, please consider donating for camp scholarships so children like Cindy can attend. Help us give the hope of the Gospel to the children of these remote communities who so desperately seek to be known."   Kelly Quist, May 31, 2017 

 *Not her real name

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