How God uses Camp to Build Our Faithfulness

I have just had my one year anniversary of hearing about Eagle Lake. That’s right, Eagle Lake has only been a part of my life for a year and, boy, has my life changed! As I look back now, the only real reason I’m even writing this is because of God. It was purely a God-thing.

I learned about Eagle Lake during my last spring break in college. When I first signed up for the spring break trip with my Navs group, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was just along for the ride, but it soon turned into something bigger. During the week, Eagle Lake came and spoke with us about being counselors during the summer. My initial thought was, “I’m graduating. I need a real job.” However, two days later, Sean McKelvey came to give us a devo and talked about his role as the Emerging Leaders Program Director. This SPARKED my interest! I thought the Emerging Leaders Program was so cool and immediately wanted to be a part of that.

Before I knew what I was doing, I applied to be a counselor for the On-Location Program and without even thinking about it, said “YES!” to spending my summer in Missouri. But I immediately became hesitant. I was graduating college, I had barely given any more thought to the Emerging Leaders Program, and I wasn’t excited for summer. I was putting pressure on myself to know God’s will even when it was clear that He didn’t want me to know it just yet. So, I went into summer with my head in the future.

Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps

Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps

Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps

Camp quickly took me out of my head though. The hustle and bustle of being part of Eagle Lake’s Traveling Circus, I mean, On-Location Program, made it so that I was heavily relying on God. If I needed strength: God. If I needed patience: God. If I needed energy: God. If I needed grace: God. I learned that God works, and He sometimes works fast. He took me out of my head, and started to change my heart. Through all the busyness, God showed that where I was, was exactly where He needed me.

I think a lot about last summer and the campers that I had. But I always come back to my first, FIRST week with my camper Blake. My first week was a mega week, and I was so worried that I was screwing up camp. The kids were running wild, I wasn’t used to the heat, and I was so tired. But Blake was one of my saving graces. He was one of the reasons why I knew that no matter what would happen, the next nine weeks were going to be great and I would succeed as a counselor. I believe that God put him in my group that week for a reason. That reason was to show me that I wasn’t at camp to pass the time until I got a “real job”; I was at camp for God and His Kingdom.*

As I went through the rest of the summer, I gave everything to God – jobs, ELP, relationships, struggles, everything. I knew that He had me and that I just needed to be faithful for what He was having me do. After that, He’d show me where I needed to go. I can plan, but ultimately the Lord will establish my steps (Proverbs 16:9). And the great thing is, He ended up calling me to serve on ELP, and I get to spend another two summers serving Him in this fun and crazy and exciting way!

Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps

Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps

*Disclaimer: Working for Eagle Lake, whether during summer, full time, or in ELP, is a real job. I learned so many skills that I will take with me for the rest of my life!


How God Uses Camp to Meet Us in the Little Moments

Monday morning games. Who knew that three little words could make every heart at camp beat just a little faster?


Campers: nervous about the thought of actually having to play games and get out of their comfort zones with people they met less than 24 hours before.


Counselors: exhausted by the mere thought of jumping, yelling, and cheering for three hours about games they play every week.


And leadership: counting down the number of times left to explain the same game.


Yep, Monday morning games are tough. I can say that as a camper they are terrifying, as a counselor they are tiring, and as a PC they are just boring. But for some reason, God chooses to meet us out there on the angleball field and the nuke em’ court. Rather than using the fanciest games or the craziest activities, God steps into these simple moments and uses them to point hearts towards him. And that, more than anything else, is what makes Eagle Lake so unforgettable.


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


I met Maddie for the first time on a Sunday afternoon. The first thing I thought was that she seemed excited, if not a little nervous, to be at camp. Little did I know that the Lord would soon use this sweet 12-year old to impact my own life.


On Tuesday afternoon, chaco-taco in hand, we sat down together on the beach to talk. Before long, we had launched into a full-fledged discussion of dragons. I have never once in my life thought about the different types of dragons, but there I was asking questions and listening intently to every detail. For over an hour. In fact, that afternoon we didn’t talk for a single minute about Jesus or what she was learning at camp.


But from that conversation, Maddie knew that she was cared for and that I was there for her. She knew that when she was ready, she could trust me to come alongside her in the tough things she was facing. And over time, after camp ended and real-life began, that’s what happened. Through letters written over the course of the next few months, I was able to encourage her with Scriptures, reminding her that no matter what happens, her Heavenly Father always has, and always will be, right beside her. I got to watch as Maddie began to experience the faithfulness of the Lord and the freedom of His promises.


God chose to use this tiny moment to turn both of our hearts towards Him, reminding me that He is completely sovereign and in control. It was clearly not my dragon expertise that impacted Maddie’s life. But the Lord used what could appear to be a trivial conversation to mold our relationship and lead to deeper moments of discipleship for His own purpose.


Matthew 13:31-32 says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


Summer Jobs in Colorado Camps


As I have traveled down the mountain and returned to school, I am reminded that God is able to work in these seemingly small ways no matter where I am. A conversation with the cashier at the grocery store, a note of encouragement to a roommate who is hurting, or a quick coffee date with a new friend could make a huge difference in someone’s life, even if I don’t see the fruit of it right away. God calls us to love others. He calls us to listen. And He is faithful to use little moments like these to change lives for His glory.

How God Uses Camp to Renew our Spirits

Teary eyed, exhausted and broken, an ominous, shapeless feeling of loneliness consumed my soul as I wearily started praying one night my junior year of college.  As the world closed in around me, the Lord came and met me.  He sat with me as I cried and He didn’t offer advice, He didn’t get me the answers, He didn’t even try to tell me everything was going to be okay. He was just there.  In the midst of my pain, I tried to remember the last time I felt God active and moving in my life in a real way.  I remembered Eagle Lake. The Holy Spirit sensed that I was drowning in myself and He offered me a lifeline.  Whatever caused me to think of Eagle Lake, it had unknowingly set me on a path to pursue a personal relationship with my Savior.

I applied that night to work as a counselor at Eagle Lake, hoping to relive my childhood memories as a 21-year-old college student.  For the next two summers of 2014 and 2015, God continued to carry my burden with me.  I felt like a kid learning to walk, as, strangely enough, I was entrusted with teaching kids about what it meant to walk with Christ as I was experiencing it.  The Lord built me up little by little through Eagle Lake, just as he did when I was a camper there.

My first summer I had a camper named Brian who came in on Sunday night with little to no interest in, how he put it, “that Bible stuff.”  I was never offended or hurt when one of my campers showed disinterest in the Word.  After all, I was just figuring out how to put my identity in Christ at age 21.  Towards the end of the week, Brian and I went canoeing and he asked me for a Bible.  I asked if he had lost his, knowing he had had one the day before.  He told me it wasn’t for him, but for his parents, so he could tell them about God.  Whether he knew it or not, his sincerity to share about Christ at age 9, put a deep, unquenchable yearning in my soul to share the redeeming power of the resurrection with anyone who would listen.

Eagle Lake Opportunities


I took a break from Eagle Lake to graduate school in 2016 and my summer felt eerily different.  I knew the Lord needed me to finish school but part of me longed for the fresh mountain air, the sounds of canoe paddles hitting the water, and the breathtaking view from the top of the zip line that unknowingly stole my heart at age 10.

After that summer, the Lord called me to Eagle Lake once again to their Emerging Leaders Program.  A program that gives me the chance to work year round for the camp that changed my life and continue to spread Christ’s never ending, infinite love to kids one week at a time, in an environment unlike any other.

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is God’s answer to my prayers.  I prayed for a calling, a purpose, and a direction. Eagle Lake gave this to me in droves.  I begged God to take away the weight of the world on my shoulders and he led me to a verse.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” -1 Peter 5:10

God sat with me that night junior year, in the midst of my suffering and provided a way out. He gave me a new hope and He is in the process of confirming, strengthening and establishing me.  He’s using the people and the experiences of ELP to do it.  I am so excited to spend this coming summer sitting with counselors.  I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have the perfect advice and I’m not going to pretend everything is okay. Sometimes people just need someone to sit with them and love them, the same way Christ loved me.

How God Uses Camp to SHOW Us His FAMILY

I never attended Eagle Lake as a camper. My first experience at camp was as a counselor in the Rezident program in 2013. And I loved it. I came away knowing that I wanted to go back if I could.

Having never been to camp, I did not have many of the established relationships that other counselors seemed to already have at the start of the summer. Some counselors were former campers, excited to be reunited in a new way after attending together as kids. Others came with friends from their college campuses, like the large crew from Colorado State, united in their green and gold. Among the CSU crowd was Michael, a friend I had grown up with since our families were members of the same church. We arrived together, and a little bit late, so the whole staff was assembled in the dining hall, a sea of new faces that I did not know.

It didn’t take long to get connected to new friends, an effort aided by sharing awkward stories and preparing for kids through long, exhausting hours during our first week together. Camp is strange. It’s a bubble in so many ways, insulated from the busyness of “normal” life and the incessant noise of the internet and tv. The separateness allows for fast and ready relationships to form, as both conflicts and connections come up quickly between people who live, eat, work and play beside one another day-in and day-out.


Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado

Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado

Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado


Not only did we get to spend all that time together, but we also got to spend that time in the context of our shared faith, taking time together in study and prayer for one another. When I discussed this depth of community with a friend, he asked me if I had thought to credit these connections to the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of enjoying the tight bonds that formed over the summer, I confess that I had not, actually, thought to credit those bonds to God’s unifying Spirit. In the midst of spending time together at camp, I hadn’t really noticed that for many of the people I considered new and close friends, the only real thing we had in common was Jesus. Our varied interests and hobbies all fell away as we learned to laugh, cry and love with one another in the unity granted by the Spirit.

Over the course of three summers spent at Eagle Lake, I have only found this to be more and more true; choosing to love one another as members of God’s family, for the sake of that family, built deep and lasting relationships that transcended each of our individual ideas of ourselves, wherever we had come from.

All of this was on top of the cool craziness that is Eagle Lake. Camp is SO MUCH FUN. Where else can you shamelessly wear your hair in any style you choose? Where else can you sport socks and sandals with such pride? Where else but camp can you be a costume? And in the midst of all of that fun, games, wild outdoor adventures, and crazy inside-joke-based antics, the chief thing that stands out to me is the relationships I built and founded in the midst of those summers. The friends I made have continued to be some of the best friends I have, brothers and sisters in Christ that I count myself blessed to know and love.


Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado

Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado

Best job ever at Eagle Lake Camps in Colorado

How God Uses Camp to CREATE MARGIN

I spent every summer in college working with Eagle Lake Camps and God made sure to not let that time go to waste. When I look back I can see His hand working in every awkward introduction, every late night conversation, every hour of cleaning bathrooms, and every voice-shattering cheer. I know the time and energy I spent with Eagle Lake was not just a fun summer job in college. God not only used those summers to continue to mold me into the image of His son but also to invite me further into his ministry of reconciliation. What a privilege to be even just a small part of a people and a place that God is using to advance His kingdom.


I had heard from friends and older students in the Navs ministry at Colorado State University (Go Rams!) that Eagle Lake would make for the hardest, but best summer of my life. God did far more abundantly than all I could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).


At the beginning of my first summer I was anxious to make a good first impression and to find where I fit in. Somehow everybody already knew my name, my favorite food, where I went to high school, how many siblings I had, and my credit score. I don’t even know my credit score. All joking aside, this seriously is how Eagle Lake leadership start the summer (minus the credit score) – intentionally including and caring for their summer staff, even in something so small as a name. As orientation passed and the first week of camp came to an end I became aware of an internal battle for my identity. My flesh desired to be highly esteemed by the PCs and other counselors, while the spirit desired for me to be fully engaged in the Luke 2:52 growth of my campers. Day after day, I performed for a crowd, showing my “exemplary service and selflessness,” only to find myself dissatisfied. Binded by toxic comparison and motivated by my reputation, I found myself exhausted by the fourth week.


Life Long Friendships

Camp Counselor in Colorado

Adventures in the Colorado Mountains



How pathetic, I thought, to be using God as a stepping stone to my own glory. And how ironic, that in the next few days it was those who I had yearned to show my every strength who ended up knowing one of my biggest weaknesses. The PCs and counselors I had grown close to gently tended my heart back to the Lord and reminded me of his faithfulness. Because of His great love, I was not consumed, for His compassions never failed. They were new every morning. Oh, how faithful! (Lamentations 3:22-23) And how thankful I was that God’s faithfulness was not based on my faithfulness. Even further, when I was not faithful, God still wanted to show that he loved me.


Two weeks later I received a care package from a few of my campers from the second week of camp full of candy, glow-sticks, and bubble gum. Buried beneath it all was a framed picture of our cabin group, Shoshone, along with personal letters from each of them. One camper wrote, “God+Eagle Lake Camps=AWESOME!!! I told my mom about what I learned and now our whole family is going to church! You showed me how much God loves me, I decided to follow Jesus.” It’s hard to describe how floored I was after reading these letters. In the midst of my sin and faithlessness, God showed himself to have an all-surpassing power that permeates all circumstances and hearts (2 Corinthians 4:7). While I was busy reaching for my own glory, God was busy taking it for himself (Isaiah 42:8).


After learning more of God’s heart throughout my first summer, He called me to come back to the mountain for the next two summers serving with Crew – the high school camp focused on service and discipleship. High school is such a formative and fun time in life; to commit 5 weeks of your summer is quite a decision – props to all who’ve done it! Anyone who has spent time serving with Crew, camper or staff, can attest to the amazing community formed over just 5 weeks. However, more than any other lesson, Crew has helped me see the value of discipleship. Somehow, in the midst of the busyness up at camp, campers and staff prioritize and find time to meet together and encourage one another to grow to maturity in Christ. The messiness and chaos of life is met by the truth and peace of the gospel as the term ‘life-on-life’ ministry comes alive. God uses Eagle Lake as a greenhouse for growing His children into laborers for the kingdom of God. The training I received at Eagle Lake prepared me to continue to labor for the kingdom as a brother, son, mentor, and friend. As I drove down the mountain to be with those I love, God worked through me to not only share the gospel of God, buy my life as well (1 Thessalonians 2:8).


Camp Bros


Life long friendships


Adventures in Colorado


One of the beautiful things about Eagle Lake Camps is that it creates margin in your life for God to make big moves. Whether you’re deep in the Rocky Mountains, 10 minutes down the road at the local church, or in your bed at home God wants to talk to you and show you He loves you. Doesn’t it make sense that when the volume of the world is turned way down and the voice of God is turned way up, you hear Him? Take one walk around any Eagle Lake Camps property and around every corner you will find another opportunity to participate in how God is making big moves. Eagle Lake Camps has forever transformed the way I view God and helped me understand how God views me. God is not a distant and uninvolved king on his throne; He hears our cry for mercy and answers with a new heart and abundant life (John 10:10) offered through Jesus Christ. Further, He invites us into His ministry as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We’re on a co-mission with God to reconcile the world to himself in Christ.


God is using Eagle Lake to impact eternity. Eagle Lake Camps empowers young children, high school students, all kinds of college students, and even college grads to live lives transformed by the all-surpassing power of God – to live lives marked by knowing Him and making Him known among their families, friends, and peers.


Crew Leadership

Why Camp Is the Way to GROW

Our On Location Regional Director Shane shares here why working for a camp is the way to go for an amazing summer:

It’s an ADVENTURE! Leaving school, home, friends, and everything else you know behind for a summer isn’t easy. Stepping out of familiarity and into the unknown provides a sense of insecurity that leaves us on edge—on high alert.

I know! That’s what I experienced when I became a counselor at Eagle Lake Camps. Gathering my belongings in a few packs and bins, I began my 1,000-mile journey across the country on the biggest unknown adventure of my life. I headed to camp for three months with nothing but some clothes, my Bible, and an iPod to keep me company. There’s something about following Jesus through an expressive physical action that creates an adventure. I’m sure the disciples felt it, Paul experienced it, and I too now have a story of my own. Venturing out on an unknown journey with the Lord pushes you beyond trust; it leads you to dependence.

It’s a FAMILY. Community runs deep, but family is thicker. It is clear that we have been crafted for community and fellowship with others. Nowhere in our design as human beings were we created to be alone. During my first summer as a camp counselor, I experienced being a part of a family that cares deeply, loves unconditionally, serves relentlessly, and pushes constantly. It was in this diverse community of believers where I found my brothers and sisters: my family.

It’s getting UNPLUGGED. You have nothing. But yet you have everything. We all know distractions are everywhere—admittedly, I have checked my phone’s ESPN app at least five times since I sat down. With my generation’s constant need for visual and audio stimulation, it’s hard to face the reality of the time we spend using technology (for good or bad) versus the time we take to sit and quiet ourselves before the Lord. When we remove ourselves from society’s pressures, temptations, and distractions and enter into the quiet, our souls then enter an opportunity to commune with the Father on a whole new level.

At Eagle Lake, I had a whole summer of living in the Word and allowing it to live through me. For guys, leaving behind computers, phones, and maybe even people and going to a remote place like camp provides an intense opportunity for spiritual growth and restoration—away from temptation and worldly distraction.

It’s becoming a SERVANT. It’s hard to sit and read Paul’s letters or other New Testament writings and not come across a page that doesn’t mention serving. Over and over God reveals to us that a life following Him casts a shadow of servanthood. Being a follower of Jesus and a servant cannot be separated. As the Lord, His Word, and other people are pouring into you at camp, you immediately have an opportunity to pour out. There is a constant rich flow that comes in, which then is required to be poured out.
It’s advancing the KINGDOM. Being a camp counselor is more than likely the most challenging thing I have done, yet it’s also the most beneficial in my walk with the Lord. Camp does not teach us merely how to serve, camp teaches us to become lifelong servants: servants who are able to see everyday opportunities and use them to advance the Kingdom.
P.S. from Mark Heffentrager, Director of Eagle Lake Camp: Being involved in camping ministry now for more than 18 years, God has never ceased to amaze me. He continually brings us staff from all walks of life and has a way of meeting them at Eagle Lake like no place I have ever seen. Students come to us with all sorts of circumstances—both past and present. Time and time again I see God lead them through their own brokenness and into a place where they recognize their impact in this world as disciples of Christ. The transformation that takes place in a staff member’s life in the span of three months at a place like Eagle Lake is nothing short of incredible. If you know anyone who could benefit from a summer of spiritual growth at camp, please point them here!