JAM Camp 2010!

Day one of Junior High summer camp is almost officially in the books, and I'm happy to say that we survived it!  In fact, it was a great first day!  For my husband, this week is the highlight of his year.  He loves JAM camp and can't wait for this week to get here, year after year.  However, I will also tell you that he's not the only one who loves it!  I was reminded today of just what a blessing it is to have 5 days of continual face time with so many students, time to get to know them, to love on them, to minister to them  and to have fun with them!  I think our staff do a tremendous job of putting together an incredible week for these kids.  Camp has really become a well-oiled machine and yet, year after year, I'm amazed at what they come up with and how the Lord uses each experience to accomplish His purposes.  Anyway, without further ado, here is a little snapshot of our day...
Can I tell you just how much praise we were giving the Lord for a smooth first night with Ava???  She did great in her pack n' play and woke up a very happy little girl this morning!  Even though we were all up bright and early, with Travis so busy all day, it was a great way for us to have him to ourselves for a little bit.  Ava wasted no time climbing on his lap so he could read her book after book :)  For all of you sweet people who are praying for the 3 (actually 4) of us this week, thank you...We need it and appreciate it!  
Ava is a typical youth Pastor's kid so far...She travels well and adapts well no matter where we have her or what the day looks like.  I've learned to bring lots of things from home to make our stay easier and thankfully, she was a trooper all day as we played and napped our way through it.
The kids were raring to go after breakfast this morning!  In typical fashion, we don't let them go anywhere or do anything without playing some kind of crowd-breaker to earn points for their cabin.  It never takes long to scrounge up some volunteers to do the grossest things!  This particular time, the counselors lined up so that Travis could spray them in the face with a water gun, while they held as much of it in their mouths, and then spit it out into a cup to see who held the most.  I know, classy :) I've given up trying to sanitize these games.  I'm told "it's all part of the camp experience" and I'm sure it is.  There are endless rounds of these games and always plenty of people to do it!  In fact, I'm not sure who loves it more, the students or the staff :)  
After breakfast and a crowd-breaker, the students spend every morning hearing a little word from the staff before we send them out to do personal and cabin-wide quiet times.  Of all the things we do, this part of the day is always my favorite.  Jackie spent much time putting together a devotional booklet for them this week, with a different passage for each day and questions to prompt them along.  We never pretend that everyone is familiar with spending a regular time with the Lord, but it's always our hope and prayer that regular time with Him at camp would help encourage them or spur them on in days, weeks or even years to come.  

In a crowd this large, it always amazes me to think about the many things these kids will encounter in the years ahead.  Some will go on to do great things, some will face tragedies, some will be dealt with illness, sadly some will even fall away from the Lord for a season and yet some will quietly but faithfully trust the Lord as they navigate the coming years.  You just never know what seeds might be planted in them during these impressionable years and it's so incredible to know that God promises "his word will not return void" when it goes out.  "It will accomplish that which it was sent to do."  Even if they don't digest much, the hope is that they digest something.  Trav and Jackie talked to them this morning about why we spend time with the Lord each day and the importance of hiding his word in our hearts.  Jackie challenged them to memorize a few key passages this week and then asked if anyone could share anything they've memorized in the past.  After a few seconds of silence, can I let you know just how many students stood up to recite a verse or a passage that they've written on their heart already??  It was so sweet...I'm sure 15 girls and guys shared on the spot and then gave a little explanation about why they memorized it or liked it.  Junior high students often get overlooked for being wild and crazy and immature, but don't be fooled in thinking they aren't capable of a deepening walk with the Lord.  It was a blessing to hear them today, with no warning in advance and then to hear Jackie share a passage she's working on right now too.  We never want to ask them to something we as a staff aren't doing as well.  It was a great way to kick off the week and after they were done, this is what we saw for the next hour...
In the stillness of the morning, students scattered around the camp, Bible's open and hopefully hearts receiving truth.  
Travis was stopped by one particular guy who told him, "I've got a Bible and this booklet, but I don't know what to do.  I've never done this before, I don't even know where to find this..."  Travis was thrilled to help him and let him know that it doesn't matter where we're at with the Lord, He's always ready and waiting to hear from us.  Such a sweet thing to hear from an 8th grade boy's lips.  
Parents, it would be a great thing for you to pray for your child and their peers every morning around 10:30 when we do this.  You just never know how God could use this time to do a big work in their hearts!  Pray along with us for hearts that are softened toward Him and for ears that are willing to hear Him speak to them.  It's only day one and already we know that He is here and working...
Before lunch, these representatives were chosen to race to the lake and back to determine which cabin gets to eat first :) We're all about friendly competition around here!  
Thankfully, the Lord held the rain away and we got a perfect afternoon to play in the water!  It's incredibly humid here, but that just made lining up to do this....
...even more fun!!  We are so impressed with the camp staff here, they are always looking for ways to make this free time fun and the kids had a blast taking turns on this new "couch" that they bought this year.  Every afternoon this week, the jet skis or the tubes are running for a few hours to cool everybody off.  
Even miss Ava got in on the action in the lake!
With our new infant life vest on, she spent some time with Daddy in the water!
And of course time with the many kids who wanted to play with her or help us too!  She has no idea, but she is one lucky little girl to be getting all of the attention she does :) The kids are so sweet to her and all day long they are quick to offer anything for her!
This made me laugh because although she was standing on the dock, she could barely walk in her life jacket without tipping over!  How Travis thought she was going to leap to him is beyond me, but he was a good Daddy for trying!  
Although even she thought it was crazy :) 
He did successfully take her on a slow tube ride and she loved it!
You wouldn't believe how many kids were worried that she was going to cry or wondered if we had a life jacket on her!  So funny!  Good thing she's got all these extra sets of eyes on her, in case either of us throw caution to the wind and do something crazy :) 
The highlight of the day for most students had to be another epic round of "death ball."  As much as I hate this game, due to many injuries every year, I'm shocked and happy to report that this year was extremely uneventful and injury free!!  It was just a great, hot afternoon with lots of kids having fun.  
I apologize for the distance between my camera and the game...Normally I'm up close and personal for some action shots, but this year I was: (a) too tired to walk that far, (b) too hot to be in the sun, and (c) certain that Jed was getting all the shots I wasn't!  You should be able to see some much better pictures from the week later on the Jammin 247 facebook page.  It's an ordeal trying to upload pictures here on this network, but I'm sure Jed will get to them sometime soon!  Although don't hold him to that, he's pretty busy here!  
After everyone showered and we had dinner, the kids got some more free time and then we moved into program time.  But I'll share more about that tomorrow, as this is already incredibly long!  
Know that we are having a great time here and all is well with everyone.  The Lord has given us great weather so far, He's kept us safe and He's got all kinds of things going on that we're not even aware of.  

If you'd like to, please join us in praying for the following things:

-Safety and health for all of the campers, counselors and staff.  We have a group of almost 150 people with us this year, which is awesome!!  But it's a long week,  full of constant activity, and we're doing our best to keep everyone hydrated and safe.  We would love your prayers for that!

-For our cabin times to be fun, encouraging, edifying, and honoring to the Lord.  In other words, for the drama to be minimal :) 

-For the counselors who have graciously given up a week of their summer to love on these kids!  We are so thankful for each of them and confident in their ability to lead their cabins well.  But they are tired at the end of the day and usually drained dry by lots of adoring kids!  

-For Travis, Jackie, and a few students who have been asked to speak this week.  Chapel times are in the morning and at night and we would love to ask you to cover those times with your faithful prayers.  

-For those students who need a respite from home this week and all the stress and heartache they leave behind.  There are some kids who are really hurting and it's always our prayer that God would help our staff SEE them and prompt us to love them well, no matter how great or small their need is.  

-For our paid staff who are "in charge" and responsible for all that goes on here.  Patience, flexibility, wisdom, discretion, and energy are always needed.  Sometimes on a minute by minute basis!  They do a great job, but it's a ton or work too and everyone is falling into bed at night!  

-Finally, for Sarah and I, who are here with our young kiddos :) We are both thankful to be serving alongside our husbands, but these days are long and we need extra doses of patience and stamina.  Also for our kids, Kaleam, Quincy and Ava.  They are all doing great, but they're all under 3 and that could change at any given time!  It's fun for them to be here and to participate in what they can but we know that the Lord uses our parenting and marriages as an example for these students to watch too...No pressure, right??  

If day one is any indication about how the week is going to go, then we're due for a wonderful week!!   Stay tuned for more updates each day...Provided I can stay awake long enough to get them up :) 
If you'll excuse me, my feet are swollen, my back is sore and my bed is calling...

Welcome to camp!!

1 comment:

Rebecca Jo said...

I'm so excited about this whole post...LOVE jr high camp! You are so right - people dont think how deep these kids can think & feel. They teach me so often with the things they know.

The pictures of them scattered with their Bibles just makes me want to tear up! And that the young man ASKED because he didnt understand... that makes my heart soar thinking he wants to learn!!!! I know Travis had to be so beyond happy to help him.

I bet Miss Ava is one spoiled kiddo with all those teens loving on her! What a fun life she's going to have growing up with all that love around her!

YIPEE for no injuries!!!

I'm totally going to print this out & keep all the prayers request close by... Blessings on EVERYONE involved in this camp!!!