My name is Erin Frye, and I am the counselor of cabin three! This is my first year on staff, but, unlike most of the other staff members, I did not grow up attending camp. I had heard of Camp Gilead, but never had the opportunity to be a camper. No matter whether you have been to camp your whole life, though, or never been in your whole life, you need only hang around for a few hours before you hear the following oft repeated mantra: “The team that wins is the team that says the most verses!” I, being a very competitive person, immediately mentally latched onto this phrase. I want to win, so my team needs to say the most verses. However, God’s Word does not say “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might win against the other team.” It says, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11).
Of the abundant and varying lessons I have learned thus far at camp, this is perhaps one of the most important. I love to win. I love to beat that other counselor at tug of war who always has the bigger cabin, and I love to hear my cabin announced at morning chapel for having said the most verses on our team the previous day. But that is not the goal of camp. God does not bring us hundreds of campers every summer so that we can force them to memorize Scripture in order to earn that winning team banner. I was convicted in a staff meeting one morning when another counselor shared how she had also had to learn this lesson. We want campers to memorize in order to give them a solid foundation in God’s Word so that when we send them off on Saturday, even if they are not being taught at home on a regular basis, they have been exposed to Scripture. Camp may be the only time that some of these kids are ever exposed to God’s Word and if a little healthy competition is what it takes to get them to memorize, so be it.
The pastor during Junior Camp #2, Pastor Dennis Wilkening, taught a short sermon during the closing ceremonies on the idea that when we make spiritual decisions, whether that be asking Christ into your heart for the first time or making a decision to spend time in the Word more faithfully, the fire that the Holy Spirit then lights in our heart for Christ must be rekindled every day. It is not enough to simply make one decision and then let life go on as it was. A fire, not tended to, goes out. We must, through prayer and time spent reading Scripture, daily make spiritual decisions. We must rekindle that fire. Camp is a time for many kids to start a spiritual fire for the very first time in their hearts. If they go home and are not regularly attending church or regularly reading their Bible, even after making a genuine spiritual decision at camp, the verses memorized while at camp may be the only thing keeping their fire going. Even if it is only a small glowing piece of charcoal, God can use even that to rekindle their faith into a bonfire.
So, yes, “The team that wins is the team that says the most verses;” and, yes, I still like to win; but each new week of camp is not just another opportunity to win the competition. It is another opportunity to allow God to work through me to win souls. What is so much more important than winning the game, is winning another camper into the family of God. Instead of looking forward to Saturday when the winning team is announced, let us look forward to eternity!
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it for a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Counselor Cabin 3