Refreshed at Program Advance

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Summer Camp on November 13, 2013

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The promise, the hope, the dream–to walk underneath a waterfall–seemed to be fading as quickly as the light was fading from the sky. Each step felt heavier than the last, as puddles oozed into my sneakers and as sprinkles of rain clung to my already soggy clothes. I felt sure that a blister was about to erupt on my foot to further frustrate my efforts. Trying to protect my neck from the draft while keeping my ankles from twisting on the uneven rocks, I kept on into the gloomy 6-mile trail. Whatever did I get myself into? We left so late in the day during our free time to go on the hike…was I being unrealistic in hoping to reachthe waterfall and be back before dark? Though I didn’t want to give up on this hike, each step became just a dull, heavy, monotonous step, filled with doubt and questions. In fact, it echoed quite accurately what my life was beginning to feel like just before the conference.
Stepping away from camp for a few days to go to Program Advance with SAMBICA’s program director and several other interns helped to refocus, regroup, and refresh. Normal routines ceased as program leaders from many camps in Washington and Oregon gathered together with united hearts and minds, to bring together fresh ideas, different perspectives, and heartwarming stories, to encourage and learn from each other. It was not about secrets and competition–our “only competitors are the dominions of evil.” Neither was it about bragging and arguing about who’s the greatest. Rather, it was about coming to the table to share in the blessings from God, specifically in programming for summer camp.

When I think of programming in camping, I think of designing, scheduling, and planning games. And games are what kids do a lot of. Some say that programming is “unspiritual” and a “waste of time.” So why encourage games and take the time plan them out? I learned from a patient at a previous job that video game designers are required to take a creative writing class and must learn the process of creating a storyboard. The video games that sell are those that tell stories; I think that’s because it is the core to which all human beings can relate. We take time to carefully plan and prepare each summer because, 1) God tells us to work hard at everything we do, as if we are serving Him, not people (1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:17) and 2) “spiritual formation is encouraged through community building and mentoring.” Both contribute to further our mission to “be a light on the lake” and “inspire youth to a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Every child wants to be a part of a story–something outside of themselves and their environment. They want to be a part of a great adventure, where they have the chance to be a hero, where they can be pursued, where they can play an important role. Wait, was I talking about kids? Sorry, but include me in on that one! Our hearts within never grow too old to the desire of being on an adventure. After all, our lives are inside of a great story being told, so stories are something both the young and the old can relate to; God created us against the backdrop of a grander story that He graciously lets us be characters in. I learned that this is how we can build every game and activity, through the channel of a story, and let God’s Spirit work through this deliberate programming.

I must admit, you gain a new perspective hiking in the dark (on the way back from the majestic waterfall) with just a weak cell phone flashlight to guide you one single step at a time. When you turn it off, there is pitch black darkness, concealing the deadly fact that a cliff is just inches away from your feet. True, in the darkness you have a greater appreciation for the stars, shining brighter than ever, as they dance through the sky. So, even when God brings before us clarity for only a single step, we will take it, and when we can’t see, we will pause, look up to the stars, and drink in their wonder as our hearts dance to their beat. I would like to ask that you partner in prayer, that God may breathe life and adventure into all of our programs, through the inspiration of the creative Spirit, as we apply ourselves diligently to the task set before us, all for His glory.

Written by Lily Semenyuk

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