I am an “outsider” at Camp Gilead in that I am not here on Staff this entire summer; I am only here for this week (I am the speaker for Teen Camp #1). But, I am an “insider” at Camp Gilead in that I spoke here in 2006 and I was on Summer Staff from 1998-2001. Before that I was a Family Camper, my mom was a Kids’ Camper in the ‘60s, and my grandpa was a pastor who was involved with Camp Gilead in the early days. As my week as a Camp Speaker comes to a close, I find myself praising God for His faithfulness to Camp Gilead. Many things have changed, but the most important things are the same. The games may be a little different every year, the theme may be different almost every year, the skits and the music may change, but teaching children and teenagers God’s Word and the Gospel while having a ton of fun has always been the same.
My son Tobias was a Day Camper while my family and I were here this week, and now as a parent anda pastor I am thankful that Camp Gilead is so Bible-centered, Gospel-centered, and Christ-centered. At the end of the first day, when I asked Tobias what his favorite thing was he said, “Swimming, mini-golf, riflery, boating, and dirtboarding.” In other words, everything. Then as he drifted off to sleep he started to sing a song about Jesus that he had learned. It was refreshing to come back to Camp Gilead this week. I realized that the reason that Camp Gilead’s heart is my heart is because it is exactly what I believe Youth Ministry should be: centered around God and His Word while also being a blast.
Teenagers have real questions about God and their relationship with Him. They are not as superficial as we often think they are. Camp Gilead is a place that they learn more about Jesus or hear about Him for the first time. As I think about the 65 years that Camp Gilead has been doing that, 1 Corinthians 15:58 comes to mind: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Camp Gilead is a testimony to the truth of that verse!
Pastor Tim Counts
Camp Gilead Camper, Staff Alumni & Speaker