Can you believe it! Camp is over again for another year, and as fast as the camp site was put up it has to come down again. It’s all over so quickly! September is here, and very soon it will be back to school, college or work. But don’t forget what you learnt at Camp, will you? We do so much at Camp, don’t we? You’ll have lots of memories, maybe some photos, or a even a stick of rock from Sheringham (do people still do that these days?!). What did you enjoy – some good food, exciting sports, fun activities, walks up the Bump, trips to Cromer, all these are good things for us to enjoy.
But if that’s all you can remember, then you’ve forgotten the heart of Camp – it is a place where God is present and working among each of the groups at Camp. Sometimes perhaps we do forget for a moment – the sessions where the speakers and leaders guide us through the Bible, and teach us what it means for us today.
In Genesis 28 v 10-22 a man called Jacob realised that where he was camping was also more than just a camp site. He didn’t have much kit with him, no marquee or bell tent, definitely no cookhouse! Verse 11 says:
“And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.”
Jacob might not have had a pillow, but he must have had an amazing view of the stars, with no light pollution to interfere, a bit like Camp. That night Jacob had a dream, which God used to tell him things that would shape his life for years to come. The promises God made to him to give him and his offspring a land, that he would be a blessing to countless others, to bring him back after years of wanderings, and to be with him, made such an impression upon him that he said:
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And later “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
What an incredible experience! Jacob was a changed man as a result, and knew that the place was significant – and not just for stargazing. He set up that “pillow-stone” as a pillar, naming the place Bethel – the house of God.
Do we think of Camp in the same way? Enjoying lots of things without realising that “the Lord is in this place” – that He has something to say to us. He has spoken at Camp – but were we listening? God has promises for us too, a home in heaven, work to do for Him to help others, and the fulfilment of His presence with us. If you realise these things as many others have done over the years, you too can “set up a pillar” so to speak – by taking that decision to accept Him and His message for yourself, and begin a journey to follow Him. Don’t be at the house of God and stay outside. Don’t be at the gate of heaven and not go in.
Jon Bustard (Young Christians’ Camp Leader)