28 Jun 2018 Houseboats Change Lives
by Cameron Wood |
I have participated in many summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools, both as a student and even more as a leader. Out of all the camps I’ve been to, I have never seen an event change the lives of students at Northshore as much as our Houseboats camp. Houseboats offer a very unique experience more than any other summer camp that I’ve seen: deliberate community.
Students naturally create this community because they are surrounded by water, living on a small boat, making meals together, sleeping in bunk beds, and near each other from sunup to sundown. If and when conflict arises, students cannot run and hide from it. More importantly, when spiritual growth happens, they cannot help but be involved with it.
As a camper at Houseboats, I remember connecting with God for the first time and realizing that the Creator of the universe brought His love down to earth so that I could experience Him. As a leader, preparing the week of camp for students, I’ve prayed that God’s presence would affect students in a similar way.
As a camper at Houseboats, I remember connecting with God for the first time.
At Houseboats, I’ve seen students show up and attempt to stay separated by friend groups and age. It’s a natural response, because our world tells students to put up walls so they can build barriers between friend groups, age, and gender. Every year I’ve watched as those walls which students have built up over the years come crashing down in a matter of days.
I have seen students start off on Houseboats swimming on opposite sides of the swim area, refusing to talk with each other, and not even acknowledging each other by name (probably because they didn’t know each other’s name!). Then slowly, as the week has gone on, those same students who ignored each other were eating together, sharing together, and playing card games with each other. Beautiful community is forming.
When students get to Houseboats, often for the first time, they are unaware that God is already at work. They don’t realize that they are about encounter the Creator of the universe in a life-changing way. From my vantage point, I’ve seen students skeptically participate in the worship services the first evening. Near the end of the week, without fail, those same students give their full attention and full energy to worshiping God.
Every year I’ve watched as those walls which students have built up over the years come crashing down in a matter of days.
There is no magic recipe for the worship experiences at Houseboats; we’re on top of a boat, in the middle of a lake, with a limited band leading our songs. But perhaps it’s the absence of the bells and whistles that allows students a distraction-free entrance into the presence of God. When you approach God in that setting, it simply accommodates spiritual growth with the Creator God.
While the “camp high” that is stereotypical of summer camps still fades when students return, the connections they make with each other remain. I have experienced this in the past couple years, particularly as we see more students take charge of leadership within the student group, more students welcoming younger grades, and more students actively seeking to know God better. I can’t wait to see what God does through Houseboats this year!
If you’d like to partner in helping students connect with God, you can volunteer as a counselor for the students during the week of Middle School Camp (July 30-August 3), as a boat driver, cook staff, and other general support staff. If you can’t help during the week of camp but still want to contribute, you can join a crew to help with loading and unloading at Northshore for Houseboat Camp (July 9 and 13) or Middle School Camp.
Contact Brookes August at firstname.lastname@example.org
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