It’s quite astonishing how closely my Christian walk has been tied to camp starting from when God really got a hold of my life in April of 1995 when I was in my early 20’s. I was traveling with a girl I liked to the Mule Days Festival in Columbia, TN. It’s pretty much what you are imagining in your head right now only with many many more mules. On the way there she and I stopped at a summer camp she had worked at the previous season to show me around. It was what you would expect from any camp I suppose but I had never been to a anything like that before so I thought it was absolutely magical. However, if my memory serves me, I was wearing Teva’s with socks which is absolutely not magical. Anyway we were walking around the camp and we came upon a small structure that had two pieces of wood underneath it. I wasn’t the most astute in those days but I could see it was a broken cross. I picked it up and slammed the two parts together making the cross whole again and hung it in the structure back where it belonged. Slamming the pieces together hurt, I acted like it did not but it was really quite painful. So there I am trying to impress this girl with my ability to do stupid things but I’m staring up at this cross. In that moment God invaded my life and even though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, God was calling me to three things. First to follow Him, second to surrender to ministry, and third to become part of this special kind of ministry we call Summer Camp.
After the Mule Days Festival I returned home, but God still had a hold of me. At the time, I had some very public lifestyle sins that although I had no intention of letting go of God freed me of, quite miraculously. But what now, I wasn’t in church I didn’t really have any strong Christian friends, I had no idea what to do. So I turned to what I did know, theater and music. I knew my theater teacher at Briarcrest, Loretta Stancil was a Christian so I went to her and she turned me over to Steve May who had been my choir teacher my freshman year in high school. I told both of them what had happened and that I wanted to work at a camp and be a camp counselor. They both recommended I grow in my faith some first and that’s when Steve May started discipling me. I’ll have more on this later I am sure.
It wasn’t long before God was calling me to serve, I started going to Leawood Baptist Church were Steve and Loretta both went and helped with the teen ministry there. Teens is something that became half of my calling and passion in ministry. But I also started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. That is where I met someone who guess what, had worked at a summer camp in Oxford, MS called Camp Lake Stephens. I’ll continue to share about what an impact that place had in part II of Vision.