With school back in session, and camp several months away, we hope you’re doing well and adjusting back to ‘normal’ life. One of our staff members, Heidi Johnson (bird name Cambri) is here on the blog today to share with us how camp has prepared her for her upcoming time on the mission field.
When I was about two years old, I started going to this magical place, Adirondack Camp Cherith (now Camp Cedarbrook) as a staff kid. It became not only my summer getaway, but my home. I remember the feeling I got after finishing second grade, when I was finally old enough to be a camper! [Just like both of my sisters] A month before camp, suitcase already packed, I waited for what seemed like an eternity in anxious anticipation of my first week as a real camper. The week literally sped by and before I knew it, Saturday had come, and I was leaving. By the time I got home, I was already planning my next summer, and every summer after that. So it would continue, until the summer I graduated college. After my first summer there, I was certain that I would go back every summer. As planned, each summer I returned to camp, making new friends, participating in activities, and learning more about the One whom camp is really all about, Jesus Christ. I promise you (and I’m sure many of you can attest to this) once camp gets in your system, I’m not sure there is any way to get it out.
Looking back on my time as a camper, I am convinced that God used it as a spring board for the mission field. I remember coming to camp and hearing about people who started as campers and went on to become counselors or staff members and left camp in order to serve God, either overseas or in a different context outside of camp. I also remember wanting to be one of those people, not because I wanted to leave camp (I have never wanted to do that) but because at the age of 6, I felt God strongly leading me to missions, already having been given a heart for the needy. While I know this isn’t the norm and not every child feels God’s call at such a young age, I knew at that one day I would be going overseas. I wasn’t certain where I would go, but I knew the time would come. As time wore on and I got older, I began digging into scripture and seeking guidance in trying to determine what exactly I would or even could do when I went overseas. Luckily, I was being poured into by staff members from camp, as well as friends from camp, who I knew would help encourage me in the way that God was leading (wherever that may be).
I’ll be going to Guatemala for 15 months in a couple of months. As I prepare to leave, I cannot help but think of all of the life lessons that camp has taught me. I know without a shadow of a doubt that camp has equipped me to do ministry in far more effective ways than I could have ever dreamed. It was at camp that I began asking hard questions and digging deeper into the Word. It was at camp that I learned the ins and outs of dealing with things like homesickness, arguments, and much more. It was also at camp that I learned what my role as a Christ follower is. Christians ought to be the hands and feet of Jesus, eager to spread the gospel message, striving to bring glory to God in everything, including the minute tasks. It was also at camp that I really learned how joyous it is to see lives transform as Jesus takes over and I also learned the deep sorrow that follows when a girl clearly rejects what she has been taught about Christ or chooses to believe the lies that the devil has spit at her. None of us are immune to the ups and downs of life and I think that was one of the clearest things that being a camper and a staff member taught me.
The only job that I have ever felt I served some greater purpose in has been as a camp counselor at Camp Cedarbrook. I can also honestly say that if it weren’t for camp, I would not be the person that I am today. I wouldn’t have the foundation that I have. I wouldn’t have the incredible experiences that I have had and I definitely would not know how to handle difficulties, stress or the countless leadership opportunities that I have gotten.
As the date of departure for Guatemala looms closer and I prepare to work with psychologists at a home for girls that have been rescued out of abusive situations, I KNOW that the lessons I learned at camp and the knowledge and wisdom that I have gained through my time there will prove useful. On top of the degree that I have in psychology, I firmly believe that being at camp has shaped me and prepared me even more.
I’m excited for this opportunity to go out into the world, even if it means leaving camp for some time. I have always loved the theme verse of camp; “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.” Psalm 78:4. There is no doubt in my mind that the next generation of girls attending Camp Cedarbrook in the Adirondacks is being filled with the knowledge of the Lord. As I go out into the world outside of camp, my desire is to share in the goal of telling the next generation of Guatemalan girls of the wonders that Christ has done and the healing power associated with His name and His name alone.