The Hardest Thing About Summer Camp
Howdy from Bryan & Claire! Thanks for reading.
Hi <<First Name>>,
As I reflect on the summer, one particular conversation sticks out as the turning point in the way that I view a particularly messy part of our ministry at Camp Wilderness Ridge...
It was about 11pm on a Thursday, and I was driving a few worn out staff back to camp after another long, hard day. It was pretty quiet in the back as people were nodding off on the short drive, but Phillip, a 16-year-old in our Service And Leadership Trainee (SALT) Staff Program who was sitting in the passenger seat, piped up. He turned to me and asked, "Bryan, what would you say is the hardest part about running Summer Camp?" (Yes, I know. Typed out, that doesn't look like the natural wording of a 16 year old, but Phillip asks a lot of thoughtful questions like this.)
I reflected silently on my second summer being in charge, and the many hurdles & challenges that I hadn't experienced last year came to mind like a check list:
- Start the summer with major damage to trails from Memorial Day flooding (CHECK!)
- Have several key staff persons bail out during training & first week of camp. (CHECK!)
- Implement safety protocols & navigate parent communication while a tropical-storm-force storm passes around camp the second week (CHECK!)
And then I realized the hardest part could be summed up in one word: "SALT." Phillip seemed surprised and asked why. I explained to him that, while I understand when interviewing teenagers that they're not perfect, the decision-making centers of their brains are not fully developed, and part of the thing about the SALT Program is that we're intentionally bringing alongside young guys so that they can grow during their time here, it's painful to feel like you're investing so much time, energy, & money in a group of people and see them do things like be lazy & ungrateful, pick on & tease one another, and even set the carpet on fire while getting a privileged night in the air-conditioned bunkhouses. (Yes, that happened.)
Phillip took this in for a couple of minutes, and then asked, "OK, so what would you say is the most rewarding part?" I didn't have to think for a second -- I immediately answered: "SALT." Phillip replied, "Well, that seems weird... considering your answer to the first question..." I then explained that despite the knucklehead moments, it is truly, completely amazing to see both 1) God work through guys who have grown through the years and are now faithful, available, & teachable (Phillip is one of those guys we can just count on) and 2) guys get it for the first time (In particular, I believe one unnamed young man involved in the carpet incident was forever changed by the way we handled the consequences of that event).
For example, out of the twelve men that went with us on the end-of-summer staff adventure (pictured below), six are current SALT, and three others are products of the SALT Program, now over 18 and serving as counselors and leaders of teams. These guys are the picture of what we're trying to do at camp.
When we say "Camp Wilderness Ridge exists to change the world through the leadership of REAL men," the guys in the photo below are right in the heart of that mission.
They are the product of sharing the Gospel with young men, getting them excited about serving others before themselves, and putting them into a place where they get to practice it. They're at varying stages of progress along the goal of Christ-likeness, and even some of the ones who have been with us are still rough around the edges in some ways, but God has them on a path toward spiritual maturity, and I'm honored to be a guide on that trail.
We ask that you pray about how God will use you to come on mission with us at Camp Wilderness Ridge, and we'd love to hear from you when He responds. Please also let us know what's going on in your life and how we can pray for and serve you!
Yours in Christ,
Bryan, Claire, & Becca Turner
Thank you for praying for us!
- An incredible Summer Camp!
- We stayed in NM for a few days, which gave us rest & perspective on the summer!
- Claire has found fellowship & community in the Bastrop-area Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group!
- Becca Riley is 9 1/2 months old, healthy, & healthy! It's awesome to watch her learn & develop into the little girl God made her to be.
- Focus & endurance in the busy season of serving ministries almost every weekend until December.
- Continued impact for a few SALT & an Apprentice (full-time) that Bryan is hoping to mentor through the fall.
- Vision as Bryan overhauls the CWR Apprenticeship & plans new off-site adventure programs (like the NM trip) for campers.
- Financial partnership (55% toward our monthly target of $3000) We're meeting with at least one person/family per week. Pray we meet with the people God's already prepared to join us!
Woodsman Camp is for boys age 7-13
For many, it's their first time away from home & first experience in the wilderness. It's beautiful to see the delight in their faces with each new experience. Check out a Woodsman Camp video here:
Ranger Challenge Camp is for young men age 13-17
One of the best things about these weeks is that they're smaller sessions, so it's a great opportunity to spend quality time getting to know and investing in these teens, especially during the two days of kayaking on the Colorado River. We see a lot of moments when the lessons about knowing Christ and serving Him start to click, and about half of these campers apply to serve other campers next summer! Check out a video from Ranger I: