As Mountain Camp Director, I – along with my family of 4 – have the challenge, blessing, and awesome responsibility of living life with all of the Mountain Campers and the Mountain Camp Staff. That’s Cabins 27-44. During the off-season (or the school year as some call it), I am a teacher in Nashville, Tennessee. Although I teach 6th graders, I have taught long enough to watch former students go through their teenage years, college years, and adulthood. The more time I spend with teens, the more I realize all boys at this age deal with one major fear – the fear of being alone. It’s a fear we all deal with. The fear that we are the only ones dealing with an issue. The fear that someone will find out our secrets, and we will be outcast. The fear somehow, in someway, something is wrong with us. It’s a fear that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Because we are not alone; we are known.
It’s what I make sure every student I teach and every camper I come in contact with knows. They are known. When things seem hard, when it seems like no one understands, when it seems like no one could possibly know their secrets and still accept them, they are known. We are known. We are known first by God. Not only are we known deeply by God, but he claims us as his sons, as his daughters. There is nothing that can change that (Romans 8:38-39). God often shows us his love for us through our community. If we are sons and daughters of God, then indeed we must be brothers and sisters in Christ. But community is a hard thing to teach; it is something best experienced. Today, as I talked to one of my Poplar campers, I was blessed to hear how he was learning about community.
This young man is a fantastic camper. He is fully involved in his activities, athletic, fun to be around, but like so many of us he was feeling alone. Although he was enjoying literally everything camp had to offer, and always had a smile on his face, he had times where he felt homesick. Specifically he felt homesick during campouts. You would never know he was feeling homesick. There were no real external signs. He, like many boys and men, hid it in inside. The feeling of having to deal with homesickness by himself was hard. Finally he chose to let his Counselor in. They had an amazing conversation. I was able to talk to this young man a few days ago as well, and I encouraged him to continue to talk to his Counselor about his feelings of homesickness. I reminded him of the truth that we are not meant to walk alone. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
So tonight, the Poplars left for another campout. Knowing that campouts were hard for this young man, I went to check on him during his Fourth Skill. In my mind’s eye, I saw him as being apprehensive about the campout, perhaps even fearful of another bout of homesickness. I caught up with him at Riflery, and I asked him what he was thinking about this campout. He broke into a huge smile, and said, “You know, Scott, I’m really excited about this campout.” You can imagine that took me by surprise. He went on to explain that he wasn’t afraid of being homesick on this campout, in fact he didn’t even think he would get homesick. I asked him why the change. I won’t forget his answer. “I’m excited I get to go camping with my cabin. I really like the guys in my cabin. We are close. I won’t get homesick, because well, they are kinda like my family.” I guess you can’t get homesick when you’re with family.
He realized he was known. He realized the value in his community, the strength in the family of God especially in hard times. That is a lesson I still learn today. I look forward to seeing him in the morning. To hearing how his campout went. To hearing more about how he leaned on his brothers to help him through a hard time. That is what Rockmont is about. Teaching young boys and young men that it is ok to lean on your brothers. Not just ok, but necessary. They are not alone. No, in fact, they belong to a much bigger family.
Mountain Camp Director
Tonight’s Scripture: Luke 15:11-24
Story: The Prodigal Son
+ Where do you see yourself in the story?
+ What’s the good news?