Surprised by Strength

Shawn Marler July 28, 2015

I really believe in the power of the camp experience to change a camper’s life. Not only is camp incredibly fun, but it presents healthy challenges. And it’s in those challenges where we see the most growth. It’s also where campers discover an inner strength.

Opening Sundays are always special because of the “family camp” atmosphere in the mornings. But there is one point in the day when I am especially present. At 1:00pm, when parents depart, I intentionally move towards the Bear Camp lodges with the little guys to help with the transition from mom and dad’s care to the counselors’ care. There are often big hugs, and sometimes there’s even some tears. I help where I can, but most of the strength comes from the parents who have the courage to look their sons in the eyes and tell them, “You can do this!”

The neat thing about Monday is that campers often find themselves repeating that same encouragement, but this time they say say it for themselves. The pronoun changes. “I can do this!” They may not say it aloud, but you can see it in them. In the way they carry themselves, in the conversations they spark with new friends, in the excited walk as they head to their first skills. It’s almost as if they are surprised by their own strength. They really can do this, and they are discovering that for themselves!

Monday carried all of our young men to all 4 of their skills. Safety orientations were being given at blacksmithing, air riflery, archery, trap shooting, kayaking, and riflery. Campers were learning how to navigate the crafts room, and were holding a snake for their very first time in Nature. Rocketry kits were opened for the first time, and you could see the excitement in the campers’ eyes. Campers were able to get a glimpse of all the fun that’s ahead in their skills, and that made them stronger, too. And as if that wasn’t enough, we added to the fun with TWO free swims today! Campers chose their fun during that hour, and that freedom brought them strength as well.

Right after skills, the Sycamores (Cabins 36-44) headed out to Black Mountain Campground in the heart of Pisgah National Forest. They set up their tents and prepared their dinners. Back at camp, the rest of us enjoyed hamburgers for dinner. The Bear Campers (Cabins 1-12) and the Deer Campers (Cabins 13-26) then headed up the mountain to their Council sites. Council is a place where we continue to strengthen our campers. We told stories of how – even in the first 24 hours – we have seen our campers showing Strength & Gentleness, Force & Refinement, Mastery of Body, and Servitude to God – all four parts of the Rockmont motto. We also joined in song and played several games at Council. Meanwhile, the Poplars (Cabins 27-35) played a game of Leprechauns, stealthily searching for 9 paints cups around camps defended by “;leprechauns.” Finding all 9 paints would lead them to the pot of gold. It may sound bizarre at first, but believe me, they love it!

Our evening Bible story brought us to John 8 where we learned of God’s mercy and love for each of us, even when we least expect it. Our challenge this session is to show that same kindness toward one another, and in the end, we will all look a little more like Christ.

I shared with a few parents last night how encouraged I’ve been by the strength of their boys. Whether the transition to camp was smooth or maybe a little difficult, I’ve seen in these boys the spirit that says, “I can do it!” So many today have been surprised by their own strength. We’ll continue to foster that spirit and celebrate all the growth that follows.


Shawn Marler

2015 Bear Camp Director

Today’s Bible Story…
Scripture: John 8:1-11
Story: Who Should Throw the First Stone?
+ Where do you see yourself in the story?
+ What’s the good news?

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