August 4, 2018
Northwest Youth Camp
Many Sunday school students see the week of youth camp as the highlight of summer, and this year's event did not disappoint. Campers attended from branch churches in Oregon, Washington, and British Colombia, Canada, totaling nearly three hundred in all. The theme was “Seek God First,” and the key verse was Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The theme song for the week was a popular song by artist Lauren Daigle called “First,” which captured the theme perfectly with the lyrics, “More than anything I want, I want You first.”
Upon arriving at camp on Monday afternoon, the students took their personal belongings to their cabins and then gathered for an all-camp meeting to go over rules and expectations for the week. This was followed by lunch and then the first in-cabin devotional time of the week. Each day, the devotions focused on a different aspect of the theme. On Monday the lesson was titled “Treasure—Where Is Yours?” and asked campers to consider what they value most in life and where their relationships with God is on their priority lists. Tuesday’s lesson was titled “How Much Is Your Soul Worth?” and led students to realize that their souls will exist forever, and that nothing in this world could possibly be worth missing Heaven. The third devotion was “You Have to Make a Choice!” and explained that each person must choose either to accept or reject the Gospel message; it is not possible to do both, and it is not possible to do neither. Thursday’s lesson was “God’s Promises” and related that when people choose to seek God, He will fulfill His promises in their lives. And the final lesson was called “Never Alone!” It offered the assurance that no matter what life brings, God will never abandon His children, but will always help them overcome. The spiritual truths that were taught during the devotions are so important for making good choices in life, and it is our prayer that every camper will remember and apply these lessons in their future decisions.
Each day after the devotions, there was free time when campers could go swimming or paddle boating at the lake, make crafts in the craft barn, play sports like volleyball or basketball, go down the giant waterslide, and more! Many also participated in tournaments for shuffle board, soccer, and other sports, with prizes awarded to the champions on the final night of camp. There were so many activities that even without access to electronic devices, it was nearly impossible to feel bored! The kitchen staff also helped keep everyone happy with delicious meals all week long, including favorites like pizza, burgers, and taco bar night, and a full Thanksgiving spread on Thursday. If that weren’t enough, campers also had access to treats at the concession stand every afternoon and evening. It is safe to say that no one went hungry at youth camp!
Chapel services were held every morning after flag raising, and also on two evenings after flag lowering. The chapel services featured VERY enthusiastic group singing, music specials from the campers, and many testimonies of God changing lives. Every day the counselors did a skit at one of the chapel services to help reinforce the lesson from the devotions. For example, on Tuesday the skit featured a game show called “How Much Is Your Soul Worth?” where contestants had to decide how much they would sacrifice to win a dream vacation, a fancy car, or a trophy wife—which was insightful and also quite comical! In another skit, three friends debated the color of a balloon, with two suggesting that the color was a subjective quality and one friend explaining that facts are not subjective, and the truth “is true, whether or not you believe it.”
The first sermon of the week, given on Monday evening, reminded students that they don’t have to wait to receive something from God; He could save them the first night! On Thursday evening the preacher brought a big hourglass and set it on a stand where everyone could see it. He turned it over to start the sand going down into the lower portion, but then covered the whole thing with a blanket so no one would know how much sand was left. He used this to illustrate the point that while we know our lives will be over someday, no one knows exactly how much time is left, so it is vital that we are ready for Heaven now. Many of the campers prayed earnestly that night, giving their lives to God and making deeper consecrations.
The evening activity on Tuesday was a team challenge that pitted cabins against each other in a race to collect staff signatures. Each cabin had a list of unique qualities such as “Has lived in Europe” or “Once had Curt Cook for a youth camp counselor,” and they had to get each category signed by a staff member who fit the description. The event was described as “chaotic” but “fun,” which is not an uncommon description at youth camp.
Wednesday evening was the annual “Youth Camp’s Got Talent” night, where special talents such as arm wrestling and thumb wars were on display. After an intense round of musical chairs, the result was challenged as it seemed that some participants had not followed the rules. Thus, a rematch was held at the Friday evening awards night. In the end, all reputations were restored and the rightful winner was crowned as musical chairs champion! Other awards that night included fourth grader Elliot Voreis for most bee stings—with seven stings! That’s not an award most people hope to win, but Elliot certainly earned it. Barrett Oilar also won an award for having created the artwork selected for this year’s theme, and several others won for their special contributions to camp. The evening closed with a slideshow of photos from the week, and then a bonfire with snacks outside the chapel. The students returned home the following morning, happily exhausted from a fun week with friends and having many invaluable moments with the Lord.