Some of my most vivid memories from my camper years was Evening Watch — a time once a week when the entire camp got together in the gym to sing and dance together.
I remember it being loud, exciting, and absolutely chock-full of energy.
Quick sidenote: This is the first place I had ever heard the song “Revolution” by Kirk Franklin. We have a Holy Motion dance we do as the song plays.
It was maybe my second year at camp, and on my first full day home, I made my parents take me to our local music store so I could buy the entire album. (CD’s remember those?)
When we get together to sing as a camp it is truly incredible. Lots of the campers may not actively sing at home. I’ve even heard campers say, “Yeah, I don’t sing” and “We’re going where to do what?” ahead of their first Evening Watch.
But when they get there, it’s almost impossible not to take part with your full self. If you ever get the opportunity to witness it, you absolutely should.
I’ve had the pleasure of leading several of our Evening Watches and Closing Firesides (on the last night, very similar to Evening Watch), and to be honest, it always makes me a bit nervous.
Will they sing? What if I look like a fool up here? What if I forget all the words?
By the time we start playing our walk-in song “500 Miles” (by The Proclaimers), it all fades away.
It could be anyone up there, (or no one at all quite frankly) the energy of the entire camp getting together after three full days of camp is always high, and infectious.
Some of my favorite moments are when the different Camps (Bear, Deer, and Mountain) interact. Mountain Campers will sway arm in arm with Bear Campers singing “Lean on Me”. Or start a Holy Motion “Funky Walk” line and invite everyone in the area to join.
The event always highlights that Camp is truly not the place, but the people in it.
A tribal director is always tasked to share a short devotion at the end of evening watch. They know ahead of time and are able to prepare for it.
They also pick out a passage from the Bible that will be aligned with what they are going to say. From their tribe of 40-60 campers, they pick a camper to read the passage through a microphone to the entire camp.
Even before the invitation is offered, the entire group of 300+ campers and staff (who were just singing loudly and dancing around) sit silently and focus all their attention on the camper.
I always take a second to look out during this time — even though the words are clearly on the screen out to the side, most of the campers always fix their eyes on the reader.
Directly following the reading, the entire camp explodes into a cheer that can probably be heard all the way into Black Mountain.
No matter how great the songs are, or the dances, this is the pinnacle of the energy — focused on a camper that took on a challenge and saw it through.
It’s another one of those moments where I think:
Only at camp is this possible.
And I have no doubt that the impact in the life of the camper who read, and those who listened and cheered is evident long after closing day.
Here’s tonight’s setlist, feel free to download the songs so your camper can share them with you! The starred songs can be found on Spotify, etc.!
*500 Miles (by The Proclaimers)
Wide Deep Long High
*The Tree Song (“Branching Out” by John Gorka)
Leaning on the Lord’s Side
Shut the Door
* Revolution (Holy Motion by Kirk Franklin)
The Greatest Gift
*This Little Light