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A position at camp is an excellent choice for your future

by John Ashmen

Aisle six in my local supermarket is where they line up the breakfast cereals—three long shelves of sugar and smiles. Even the most discerning child is easily perplexed by the enticing possibilities.

From fruit flakes to playmates to first dates, decisions only get harder. In the foreword of Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God (Multnomah, 1999), Haddon Robinson writes, “We want to make right decisions, for we realize that the decisions we make turn around and make us. As we choose one end of the road, we choose the other.”
If you’re in high school or college, you’re in road-choosing years. You have urgent, life-size decisions to make: Which institution for my life training? What vocation for my life work? Which person for my life partner?

I believe that other, seemingly less important decisions are more pivotal because of their ability to influence major determinations. One of them is, “What will I do with my summer?” Options can range from exotic to exhausting. But summer should be a time to find out if the road you’ve chosen is leading in the right direction, and even a time to amass memories for your journey. Serving on staff at a Christian camp or conference center is an excellent way to do that.

Beyond Your Walls
A staff experience at camp will build your interpersonal skills. As a Christian camp staffer, you become a partner with those you serve and a servant to those you lead. This double role teaches essential lessons about people that you won’t learn at school. Additionally, it’s rare for camp staff to end the summer without having developed several close friendships.

Working at camp will also place you in a peaceful setting. Even though your regular focus may be an ankle-deep livestock stable, a tray of sticky dishes, or a cabin full of kids, the overtures of creation are always playing in the background. Wildflowers along the trail, wind in the trees, loons landing on the lake, and warm, starry nights declare God’s presence and soothe the spirit.

A Growth Spurt
Camp is also an opportunity for travel and intrigue. Camp work can place you in just about any location you’d like to be. There are great camps in the mountains of Montana, in the valleys of Virginia, and in more than 1,000 locations in between.

You could have the chance to sail, raft, climb, and do a hundred other challenging outdoor sports. With the right credentials, you might be able to instruct campers in these activities.

In addition to physically stretching experiences, a Christian camp experience can prompt spiritual growth. You will be away from daily distractions and you’ll have ongoing exposure to the Bible through personal study times, staff devotions, and guest speakers. There will always be an opportunity to try out biblical truth.

Sharpen Your Vision
Only about half of all college students have a good idea of where they want to be in 10 years. The other half are still choosing their road. If you’re in the first group, serving at camp can confirm your calling or eliminate an area of interest. A former employee told me during a post-summer evaluation, “I wouldn’t trade my experience at camp, but it has confirmed that I don’t have what it takes to work with children.” She switched her college major and now enjoys a career in broadcasting.

If you’re in the second group, a summer staff stint will allow you to observe various vocations. Once I hired a registered nurse who, five years earlier as a camp kitchen assistant, had been attracted to the vocation by the skill of the camp nurse.

As you stand ready to choose your road, consider working a summer at camp. Regardless of the position you hold, you’ll leave with new maturity and more education, and be challenged as never before. And you’ll never forget the lessons you learned because you’ll always remember the experience that birthed them.

John served as executive director for several years at Haluwasa Christian Camp and Outdoor Center in New Jersey. Currently a CCCA vice president, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a master’s degree in organizational management.

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