Every returning Gilead camper knows the mantra: “The team that wins is the team that says the most verses.” I never realized how true this was until my 13th year as a camper (4th if only counting kids’ camp). You see, I thought I had experienced everything there was to do at camp, but I had never won a week of camp. So I convinced my friend to test the saying: we would give up most of our activities and memorize Scripture. After all, as Vince Lombardi once said, “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” Needless to say, our team won by a landslide.
As a counselor, that drive to win continued. I would bring cleats to wear for Monday night tug-of-war, I had an all-black outfit for whatever night game(s) we would play, and did whatever I could to win as I played by the rules. While I would never force my kids to give up their activities, I also suggested they take their books with them and whenever they told me they were bored (i.e. waiting their turn), I suggested they memorize Scripture. I can’t even remember how many days of R&R (rest and relaxation) I gave up just to hear another verse.
Looking back, while I do not have any major regrets, I’ve wondered which of those things we did for Christ will last? Sure, many of these activities helped us bond with the kids. I’d love to once again experience the excitement of winning another camp pennant, teaching a kid how to shoot an arrow or a BB gun, or leave the fate of my cabin to the Wheel of Misfortune.
But then I also thought of the many Bible verses I’ve internalized, the great lessons of the Bible I learned at chapel, and even how to have fun in a God-honoring way. Many of those Bible verses I memorized the Holy Spirit has used to encourage me, grow me in the Lord, and convict me of sin years later. I’ve also had the chance to re-connect with many of my former counselors (like Tim Counts, who wrote on why he can’t get enough of Camp Gilead), which has also helped me to see the different ways they shaped me into the man of God I am today.
And that’s what I love about Camp Gilead: No matter what we were doing, even in things I usually grumble or complain about (which Paul stated we shouldn’t do), we learned how to find true joy and excitement in the Lord, even in the trials of camp life (Jas. 1:2). That’s a true win.
Whether you are coming to Camp Gilead as a family camper, a resident camper, or on staff, I pray that as you experience an awesome and exciting time at the #1 camp in the Northwest, you also draw nearer to God and see the greater victory of intimately walking with Him.
Seeking first His Kingdom,
PS – If any of you knew me through Camp Gilead, I’d love to reconnect! Facebook.com/jdquey or Twitter – @jdquey