Summer On Steroids

Good-bye Campus by the Sea . . . until 2013!

How fitting . . . that on the one year anniversary of Derek and Julie's wedding, we're flying to Africa to spend the next 3 weeks with them.  But first . . .

The past month has been fast and furious.  Camp is always all-consuming, but this summer was all-consuming on steroids.  Doing two weddings during our seven weeks at CBS (one in Aspen, one in Boston) and going straight from CBS to NH without the traditional week break ratcheted it up to the "on steroids" level.  

Truth be told, when we stood on the brink of the summer back in June, the intensified pace of the summer was daunting to say the least.  It was very clear to us that we wouldn't be able to do it without God's supernatural presence and power - which we know is always true.  We were just much more aware of it given the unusual schedule of the summer. 

With it all in our rear view mirror now, we are humbled by the way God has met us.  It seems like we've heard more stories about His work in lives throughout the summer than ever before, and we know it goes way beyond anything we could've done.  He is faithful.

Our final two weeks at CBS were a bit crazy.  We flew to Boston between camps 5 and 6 to do the wedding of Drew Macrae and Dana Neel.  Drew's parents are on the H.I.M. Board and we’ve had a relationship with Drew and Dana since they began dating their sophomore year at Boston University Academy.  That was over 8 years ago.  We were honored that they wanted Paul to marry them and it was well worth leaving camp to fulfill their request.  God met Paul very powerfully through his message and many of the guests talked with him about the meaningfulness of it.  We had a great weekend celebrating with them.

Drew and Dana came to camp for their final pre-marital counseling marathon session and we loved introducing CBS to them!

A week later, we flew to Boston to perform their wedding.  It was a wonderful celebration.

Before we flew to their wedding, the staff made the annual trek to "Lone Tree" - one of our optional "staff only" special hikes.  We had perfect conditions for the small but stalwart group who sacrificed one of their few opportunities for sleeping in to experience this out-of-the-ordinary hike.

Reaching the goal: Lone Tree!

Our final week at CBS was packed as we wrapped up a seven-week sprint.  It seemed impossible that the days at CBS ran out so quickly, but by August 4, they had.  Family Camp 6 speaker Gary Gaddini's teaching was relevant and profound and God used Him to help change lives.  He also wrapped up the staff's study of David Platt's book Radical in a challenging and practical manner.  The week was full of joyful celebration and sad closure.  

CBS Directors Dave and Kim Noble surprised Paul by honoring him at the final banquet for his 40 years of service to Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship.  Paul went on staff in 1972 as the first tour director for "Twenty-One Hundred", IVCF's traveling multi-media show.  From 1973 to 1976 he served as Campus Staff Member in San Diego, and started directing CBS in 1975.  After our marriage in 1976, he was appointed the full-time director of CBS, a position he held until 1991, when he went on sabbatical in New England and resigned as director.  From 1992 until now, he has been the Program Director for Family Camps at CBS. The Nobles did a great job of honoring Paul and he was as humbled as surprised.

Following the six weeks of camp at CBS, off to Boston we flew, along with 15 summer staffers.  We arrived around midnight on August 4, and by 3 pm Sunday, August 5, we had launched the HIM/Berea Family Camp at Camp Berea in New Hampshire.  276 eager campers arrived that afternoon and we were off and running.  

God met us so incredibly.  Some of my "I feel overwhelmed at times by this crazy summer" concerns had revolved around exhaustion and vulnerability to sickness....and we felt God was faithful to give us what we needed strength-wise, and we had very few cases of sickness.  Praise Him!!  He also met our needs for staffing such a huge camp: our final need was filled in the ninth hour by Aly, who is the sister of the boyfriend of a CBS staff's sister  :)  She was great.  We also had veteran staffers Liz Aleman (who just graduated from law school), Kelsey O'Keeffe (who just graduated from Muhlenberg College), Brian and Heather Dietz (on staff at Highrock Church and long-time mentees), Sue Martis (who has faithfully run the nursery childcare program at our east coast family camps for years), Barbara Steele (who keeps the infrastructure intact), and Helen Challener (who served at CBS in 1978 and 1980 and now has served two summers at Berea.)  What gifts each of these "ballast" veteran staff were to the team!

HIM/Berea's Family Camp 1 staff

Camp 1 ended on Saturday, August 11th, and Camp 2 arrived on Saturday, August 11th.  Yes.  Summer on steroids.  Though less than ideal, it's how it had to be since Berea had a camp booked the following weekend, beginning on Friday the 17th.  So . . . we had to start on Saturday the 11th, and we did!!!  Though not quite as large as Camp 1, it was a sold-out camp full of very expectant campers and God met us all.  It was a powerful week of ministry and God sustained us.  Right down to the last moment.  To Him be the glory!!!

Paul leads children’s devotions at Berea

The Ide family competes at the Tuesday evening game show . . . 

. . . brought to you by your game show hosts!

Families and staff join together for the chicken dance at Berea

The Minch family works on their banner
The solo challenge was a new feature at Camp Berea this year

HIM/Berea's Family Camp 2 staff

I wish I could tell you all the stories from the summer, but I am going to share a few:

Some long-time CBS family campers brought with them a young family whose dad was not able to come due to his work as a maritime captain (and therefore is gone for long periods of time. ) The mom and her 4 young children came to camp as ones seeking to know God more fully.  Paul and I spoke this summer on Thursday nights on "Intentional Friendship in Marriage" and we close telling the story of my parents who wrote letters to one another every night while they were separated by my dad's Naval career.  (A link to that talk will be posted here with a few weeks.)  Our final challenge is "What are you doing to build into the friendship of your marriage that will help you finish well together?"  This young mom shared at the banquet that she was convicted due to her lack of keeping in touch with her husband during his deployments and was newly committed to being intentional to write him faithfully now.  She said that God had really met her during the week at camp.

Another camper wrote:
"Loved your staff!  My kids were loved and taught better than I could ever imagine.  No matter what age, all kids were taken such good care of."

And another: 
"It's with tremendous gratitude that we leave today.  Thank you doesn't seem enough to express what is in our hearts.  CBS is one place and time of year we know we come to meet God in a most intimate way - as a family and as a couple.  It truly is heaven on earth.  The staff are the best example we've seen of Biblical servanthood.  We are refreshed and encouraged to return home for kingdom building in our marriage and family."

We are grateful beyond words.  We'll take these next three weeks in Uganda to reflect on and process the summer, as well as to be refreshed and renewed.  We will also have the privilege of partnering with Derek and Julie by doing some marriage seminars at their church, with the Mbale missionary community at large, and with the CURE Hospital staff.  

We're basking in the faithfulness of God as we consider the incredible ways we've seen Him work through family camps this summer.  Thanks for your prayers and support in so many ways.  

We've arrived in Entebbe after 24 hours of easy, uncomplicated travel and have had a joyful reunion with Derek and Julie.  What a gift to be able to do life with them for the next three weeks.

Jambo from Uganda!  And no more steroids.  :)