30 adults working together for God and 70 children on an adventure having fun, learning about God, and getting to know themselves and each other better. Every year for about 15 years, I’ve gone with my family and about 100 other people to Spring Mill Bible Camp in Mitchell, Indiana. We go the week of the 4th of July. Most of us stay in rustic built cabins with no air conditioning – but they have hot water, showers, and flush toilets.
Why do we go? Why do we love it so? Why do most kids fall in love with the place? We work so hard, many of us. Sometimes, the reason we love it is so clear to me. Other times, I really don’t understand it.
Last week, Brad Pafford and I had 12 boys from 3rd grade to 6th grade to care for and look after from Sunday afternoon to Friday midday. And Fred Carter came in to help the last night when Brad had to get back to his job. My wife, Regina, ended up as a full time cook to help out when Anni Carter’s eye condition got so painful that she couldn’t come down on time as she’d planned. Regina had corrective knee surgery about 4 weeks before. She and the other cooks worked 12 to 13 hour days and prepared 3 meals a day.
My daughter, Rachel led the arts and crafts for the children. Steve and Melanie Faidley directed the whole operation. As I said, about 30 adults worked hard all week to lead activities, teach the Bible, lead singing, drive vans to the park, discipline and encourage the children, help them find their socks, bandage scrapes, bruises, and spider bites, etc.
The camp is nice, but it is not a Disneyland type camp. It is straight forward, has 2 basketball courts, a play set and swings, some tetherball, and a four square court taped onto the concrete. And a zip line that Bill Sweet put up this year.
But why do we love it so? Why did my youngest boy want to get baptized there last year? Why did Mel and Steve commit to going to the camp many years ago and devote so much time to helping run the place? It’s a ton of work.
Sometimes, I think it is the agenda. It’s a wonderful mix of Bible classes, singing, fun, free time, crafts, eating, and activities. Sometimes, I think it is just the love of everyone at the camp. Sometimes, I think it was charmed by the Lord’s saints many years ago when the camp was dedicated and built. You see, I am very mathematically minded. And it just doesn’t add up to me when I look at the place and all the work of it sometimes. We have the kids, the campers that is, do chores. Every day, they have to clean up their cabin and help out in the mess hall sweeping floors or doing dishes.
Some kids come for the first time and they are nervous and scared about being away from home without their parents. Some kids get in scuffles or arguments with each other. But almost all just love the place.
And usually there are a number of baptisms either at the camp or right after camp – of the young people who come. After all, they are immersed in the Gospel heavily each day in studying, singing, and praying. It’s just what some of them need to build a deeper relationship with God and commit their lives to Jesus.
I think it must be that God’s presence is just thick in the place. Between the deer and the other animals that inhabit the place, the people that built and maintain the camp, and the love of the families that come to the camp to help run it, it’s just overflowing with God’s presence. His Spirit just dwells there. Probably half of the adults there don’t even have children or grandchildren at the camp. These people just come to help.
Sometimes, you don’t need math, you just need faith in God that He loves us and will take care of us, and will give us everything we need if we just seek Him first. I count myself blessed to have had my family talk me into going there and helping so many years ago. If you haven’t been there, you should go next year. If you haven’t been back in a while, you should come next year. And if you were there, you may know what I mean, and I hope you come back next year too! I hope I can.