“EAGLE LAKE CAMPS!!!!!” screamed my friend in response to hearing the camp mentioned — on other side of a crowded, chatter-filled room of college kids. I looked at her in surprise, slightly embarrassed by her scream, and found myself thinking, “What an odd way to respond to one sweet hiking location.” But as I came to discover over the course of a summer, what a sweet hike it was.
I’ve lived in Colorado all my life, but riding in a bus full of new counselors “ooing” and “aahing” on the ride up to orientation at Eagle Lake Camps refreshed my knowledge of not only how blessed I was to start calling this place home, but also how great our God is to have created this meticulously crafted landscape in a breath. Upon arriving at the top of the mountain I realized that my screaming friend (who’d been at Eagle Lake the past two years) was spawned from a community of high-energy, optimistically friendly, Jesus-loving young adults with one purpose: spreading this gift of enthusiasm for the Gospel to all they encounter.
When I was a kid, I was generally quiet. The kid who’d opt out of crafts because they were “childish” and who would never participate in a game for fear that the spectators would realize that I was not, by [enter age], a professional baseball player, four-square champion, name-game enthusiast what-have-you. Not until this moment on the ride to camp had I been surrounded by masses of people who not only didn’t focus on my imperfections, but authentically and excitedly offered to help my personal growth. I soon realized that, were I eight years old again, I would be entirely thrilled to be at camp with this group of people and I would have easily fallen in love with the fact that the true source of all this authentic love comes from Jesus. My not eight year old self thought, “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
After orientation, I was ready to be an Eagle Lake Day Camp On Location Camp counselor travelling to the state of Missouri. We would spend a week each at nine churches across the state getting to tell kids from several different ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, and personal belief systems that they are loved so much more than they ever knew. Each week caring for these kids was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve experienced. I loved having the blessed opportunity to tell them that God sees each and everyone of them as equal, loved and cherished.
I got to sit down with an eight year old boy and tell him that he doesn’t need to beat the highest score or conquer the world to be important, he already is. I got to share with a young girl that regardless of what the others in her grade think of her, she is adored by a Father who thought her worthy of sending His perfect Son to die in her place. These are among my favorite encounters during my summer at Eagle Lake Camps. Seeing a kid’s face light up with contagious joy at the idea of being able to go out into the world and tell others about the One who saved him brought joy into my own heart beyond description.
Aside from having the opportunity to carry-out the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20), I also learned the importance of abiding in the True Vine (go read John 15). It stuck out to me that Jesus says in John 15:5b “-for apart from me you can do nothing”. I learned that in the heat of life, whether it’s at work or in school or just driving down the road and a tiny car in front of you decides to drive at the speed of the interstate number (I-25) and not the speed limit (75), if you’re not getting your energy and patience from God then you’re not getting it. Matthew 11:30 says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. If you’re not being filled from the Source then you’re cut off and everything in life seems heavier. Jesus is the Giver of all life; why would we not want to take His gift? This practice of leaning on His everlasting arms is something I took with me beyond camp and I’m still learning how to do even better.
Now when I yell across a room the words my friend and so many others have yelled before, I hope somebody else is thinking how odd of a thing it is to scream “EAGLE LAKE CAMPS!!!!!” and wonders why. Of course, once you understand what it means, it’s not odd at all. If anyone truly understands the joy of sharing the word of God then that person is offered no choice but to scream it from the mountains and tell it to the masses that He is God. Eagle Lake Camps offers a Christ-centered, friendly, passionate, enthusiastic and steward-minded avenue to know Him and make Him known and still I’m proud to scream it at the top of my lungs.