August 3, 2019
Northwest Youth Camp 2019
Northwest Youth Camp 2019 began Monday morning, July 29. Campers came from the Portland church, as well as from the branch churches in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada, and converged at the Mayfield Lake campsite. Most of the 290 attendees, including staff and students, arrived by noon, full of energy and excitement and looking much cleaner than they would for the next five days. The theme this year was “Jesus Is Coming Again,” with the key verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The theme song for the week was “Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me),” and the chorus tells the entire Gospel story with the lyrics, “Living He loved me, dying He saved me; Buried He carried my sins far away; Rising He justified, freely forever; One day He’s coming, oh glorious day.”
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 “Jesus Is Coming Again” and gave campers an overview of what the Rapture is and how important it is to be ready for it. Tuesday’s lesson was titled “Be Ready Today!” and highlighted the importance of living as if Jesus would return today. The third devotion was “Stay Ready” and gave campers tools for maintaining a consistent walk with God. Thursday’s lesson was “Tell Others to Be Ready” and related the responsibility of believers to share the Gospel with others. The final lesson was called “On Our Way to Heaven” and highlighted what eternity in Heaven will be like. 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, ride the giant waterslide, and more! Many also participated in tournaments for shuffle board, soccer, hula-hooping, and other sports, with prizes awarded to the champions on the final night of camp. There was also a game hut with UNO and other games. A highlight was the lightening chess tournament. The winner there seized the championship in just four moves! The sports and activities directors made sure that all of the kids had plenty to do, whatever their interests were.
The kitchen staff also helped to keep everyone happy with delicious meals all week long, including favorites like homemade pizza, burgers, and tacos. The week ended with a pot roast dinner and shaved ice dessert. 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 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, including by some who received experiences at this youth camp.
During some of the chapel services, the counselors put on skits to help teach important spiritual lessons. On Monday the skit was about God’s grace and depicted a conversation between Jesus and Peter. Peter (portrayed by Ryan Chasteen) thought he would have to spend the rest of his life serving Jesus to make up for the way he had betrayed Him, but Jesus (portrayed by Jeff Bishop) explained that through grace Peter’s sins could be completely forgiven and Peter could stand before God as though he had not sinned.
The chapel services always included a challenging message. On Monday evening the preacher started with a question: “What place in the world would you like to visit?” Ukraine, Africa, Paris, and Antarctica were a few of the locations shouted back to him. He then asked, “What if you got a call offering you an all-expense paid trip? The only catch is that you won’t know for sure when someone will come to pick you up. Would you do it or would you decide to wait before accepting, possibly missing out on the opportunity?” The minister went on to explain that Jesus has already paid the price for every person to go to Heaven, but we don’t know when He’s coming back, so we must always be ready. That first service ended as all the others would—with a time for prayer. Many campers received something from God during the week, and by Thursday twenty individuals said they had been saved!
On the last night of youth camp, awards for the tournaments were handed out amidst much shouting and hilarity. Then everyone watched a slideshow of photos from the week. At the closing, Wayne Butler of Port Angeles, Washington, showed videos of some whales and other sights he has seen on his fishing trips. He told a story of how one night, a sparrow landed on the boat, sixty miles from land. Brother Wayne and the other fishermen were amazed to see it so far from land! As it sat on the boat and recovered from its long flight, Brother Wayne told it, “The Lord knows where you are, little bird.” The Bible says God cares for each sparrow, and he cares even more for each of us. The kids were encouraged to ask the Lord each morning, “Lord, keep me today,” and to say at night, “Thank You for keeping me today.” Brother Wayne said the days will pass, and soon the Lord will have kept them a week, a month, and then a year. Eventually they can all have testimonies that the Lord has kept them for many years.
Youth camp activities closed late Friday night with a bonfire and 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.
(Mouse over the image to click through the album.)