A Summertime Tradition!
Spring Mill Bible Camp – what comes to mind for me when I hear that name? Well, a flood of memories from over the past 25 years, but first is how much some of our kids love camp. Over the years, when I’ve questioned whether I’ve wanted to do this…again…I’ve almost always had one of our kids come up to me and say something that gave me a boost – “I can’t wait for camp!” or “I love Bible camp” or “Are you going to be at camp again?” The Lord knows how to give us a blessing when we need it.
Before I go further, I want to stop and recognize everyone that makes this tradition and service opportunity possible. Everyone that goes to camp with us is a volunteer. They give up those days, they burn vacation days provided by their employers, to give back to our kids. They are AMAZING and it’s an honor to work with such a selfless bunch of Christians! I wish I could name them all from over the years, but THANK YOU! Also, thanks go to all of you that have helped by donating food and pantry items that we take with us. We try not to use much if any of the Spring Mill Bible Camp supplies. What our congregation provides helps us fund our camp and keep it affordable for our families and as an outreach to others. Finally, we have a few “patron saints.” They like to remain anonymous, but we have a few people that each year provide cash donations specifically as “scholarships” for those families that can’t afford the fees. You folks are WONDERFUL!!!
Where did this all begin for my family? Melanie and I returned home to Indianapolis after graduating from what was then called David Lipscomb College in 1987. The following summer, wanting to find a way to serve and become more involved, we volunteered to be counselors at Southeastern’s annual Bible camp. I had only been to “church camp” one time in my life. Melanie, having grown up at Southeastern, several times. But I loved the idea of working with kids, trying to be a role model, challenging myself to serve and to try and be a better Christian example. I was hooked. I would be back every year except one and Melanie every year but two. This will be the 26th year since our first time. Our babies would come, and we kind of changed camp a little into what we called “family” Bible camp – we brought our little ones and opened a cabin for mothers and their pre-camp aged kids for several years so the Davises, Arnolds, Wallises, and others could be together while serving – husbands and wives. As new and young parents, we built wonderful bonds and memories. Our kids would grow up and never remember not going to camp.
The memories are plentiful – chapels, crafts, caves, mud, cool bugs, toads, tree frogs, heat, sweat, great meals together, cabin life, Pink Panther, songs and baptisms, and the faces…the faces of so many kids down through the years. Faces of fun, faces of joy, faces of questions in our classes and nightly devotionals, faces of competition, faces of wonder and amazement. We know that some of the kids we’ve served over the years never had a vacation – and we were it. Some never got to experience God’s creation like we do at camp. Some seldom if ever get to hear the Word of God or experience the love of Christ except at camp. What a privilege it’s been and continues to be to serve our God by serving these kids for a few days a year.
More than just memories come to mind when I think about camp. I think most who have spent some time volunteering at camp would agree that wonderful relationships are established and built over the years. Spending a week in a simple cabin, corralling kids from 1st grade or high school, sharing devotionals, preparing and serving food, teaching, playing, leading, relaxing, being a role model and mentor, are great ways for a few women and men to get to know each other. One of the great blessings from camp that I’ve realized (and I think many others would agree) is the opportunity we have to get to better know people that are in our congregation. When you’re part of a relatively small team, working toward a common goal, and seeing each other throughout the day for nearly a week in all sorts of conditions (clean and dirty, hot and sometimes cold, dealing with challenges and dealing with fun…and sometimes just silliness), you can’t help but build some bonds and learn things about people that you never would have guessed without such an opportunity. These are some of the blessings I’ve been given by camp over the years.
When I look around today, when I see and hear the stories of the struggles of our children, the challenges that our “advanced” and “modern” society puts on them, when I see our children struggling to carry their faith from childhood to adulthood, it can be heartbreaking. We have these discussions about our kids: is this generation spoiled, given too much, asked to do too little? Is the Church failing our kids? Is society failing our kids? Are parents failing their kids? The schools? The media? The music? The movies? The internet? We know that Satan uses these things to undermine faith. I don’t know the answers to all the challenges our children face. In fact, I know less now than I did just a few years ago! But what I’m sure of is we can’t do too much in the way of teaching and demonstrating Christ to our kids. Our annual camp at Spring Mill is a way to do that. It’s a way to build relationships with our children that just might make the difference when they reach those forks in the road and have to make faith decisions. There may be, and certainly are, other ways to impact our kids, but camp continues to be a tool in our belt available and useful in helping our children on their walk to and with the Lord. I pray that He blesses our work and service to His glory and purposes.
In His service, Steve Faidley