Experiencing God at Camp

The East Ohio Camps & Retreat Ministries camping sessions began June 16 with hundreds of smiling children and youth embarking on new adventures at Camp Aldersgate, Camp Asbury and Camp Wanake.

There is still time to register for one of these camps and for Reach Out and Institute at Lakeside. Visit the East Ohio Summer Camps website to learn more and to register.

Bishop John Hopkins and members of the Cabinet shared with delegates to Annual Conference 2014 – in words and pictures – how lives are transformed through camping experiences that put God first.

Those thoughts are echoed by Melissa Iser of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church (Southern Hills District) in her testimony about how attending church camp as a youth changed her life.

Experiencing God at Camp

By Melissa Iser*

I really never turn down the opportunity to talk about Christian camping. It is as much a part of my faith journey as taking communion or joining a church. The experiences I have had through Christian camping have quite literally made me who I am today.

My first camp experience came when I was eight years old. I was SO EXCITED to return to camp the following year that I wouldn’t get in the car to leave camp that first year until my parents BOTH promised that I would return the following summer.

My first full-time job was at camp – the camp I had attended and where I had given my heart to Christ. I thought it would be fun and maybe a way to give back – and it was for the next seven summers, all the way through high school and college. Camp is where I realized that I was created to serve and teach.

As an adult, I willingly gave up extra income and vacation time to return to that life-changing environment as volunteer counselor and director, eager to pass it on to those who would impact so many for Christ.

I’m not sure how it works, honestly.

How does a place that encourages silliness and crazy songs lead us to PEACE?

How does a place that packs lots of strangers into a sweaty, cramped dining hall or electricity-less cabins create God-centered, tight knit, lifelong FAMILIES of FRIENDS?

How does a place that pushes you to exhaustion from early mornings, long hikes and late and sleepless, giggle-filled nights bring you to REST?

How does a place that has open skies, daily adventures, no walls or boundaries, and limitless possibilities lead you to COMFORT and SAFETY?

The ONLY explanation I have comes from one of my favorite camper evaluations, a response to the question, “Would you recommend this camp to a friend and why?”

The answer? “I wish all my friends could have THIS, because God is at camp.”

My thoughts?

If you want a child you care about to – as the entry to my life-changing camp says – “Know Christ and Make Him Known.” If you want THAT for a child – SEND HIM/HER TO CAMP.

If you love sharing God’s word, God’s impact on your life, and sharing your gifts – GO TO CAMP. Volunteer for a day, a week, a month, a summer. Talk about your experiences to the children in your lives. Allow God to use this ministry in awesome ways through you.

GOD IS AT CAMP. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of everyday miracles, God exploration, caring community, and new experiences filled with love, excitement, and opportunity.

GOD IS AT CAMP. In campfires and starlit skies, in bugs and water, in laughter and singing – God is present and shows Himself in these life-changing moments.

GOD IS AT CAMP. He uses this ministry to OPEN HEARTS and CHANGE LIVES. It changed mine, and I am forever blessed.

*Melissa Iser is a member of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church in the Southern Hills District.