How I was transformed by discipleship at Brigade Camp
Friday evening was here and my week at camp was over. As I sat on the grass by the tetherball pole, I looked out over the valley and sobbed. I didn’t know why. Sure it had been a fun week, but at fourteen years old I had a lot of other things I wanted to do before the summer was over. My friends were waiting back home, the county fair was coming up, and of course my TV and video games had been neglected while I was away. Despite all this, there I was sobbing because I didn’t want to leave. It would take me several years before I could understand what transpired inside me that Friday evening.
The following summer I returned to participate in the camp’s Leader In Training (LIT) program. Those six weeks changed the course of my life. When I signed up for LIT I thought it was designed to train camp counselors. It wasn’t long before that notion was dispelled. For six weeks I was challenged spiritually, mentally, socially and physically. I was challenged to memorize scripture, taught to live out godly character, and tested in my ability to share my faith. Then I was instructed in how to pass these same characteristics on to the campers that I would be entrusted with. This is the model of Brigade Camping.
…all these things changed who I was and who I would become.
I returned to Camp Hickory Hill for eight summers, each one building on the last. The mentoring that I was given, the community built between staff, the ministering to campers and to each other; all these things changed who I was and who I would become. Brigade Camp changed my life. It made me want to serve Christ better. It created a desire to pass on my faith and character to other men and boys. It demonstrated that passionately following Christ can be exciting and fun!
In November my wife gave birth to our first son. As a father, I want my son to grow into a godly man. I want him to be a man of valor, to love God and love others. I want him to follow Christ with all that he has. It is my responsibility to see to it that he is taught how to do these things. I will teach him, I will take him to church, I will demonstrate godly character, and I will be an example for him. I will also send him to camp, where he will be challenged as I was. He will have an opportunity to see many men who are as passionate about Christ as I am, and he will learn from them as he learns from me. I love my son too much to not give him the opportunity that was given me and changed my life.
Brigade Camp is a place for boys to build meaningful relationships, to explore God’s Word and His Creation, to see how godly men act and live, and to have fun while doing it. When I was a camper I didn’t realize any of this, I only knew that camp was fun. I didn’t know how much was being poured into me, but that didn’t change the fact that it was. I couldn’t tell that I was being drawn close to God, or that He was using the men who served there to conform my mind to the pattern of Christ’s. Deep down it was happening though. That is why on a Friday evening at fourteen years old I sat alone and sobbed on the hill. God was changing me. God was calling me. God was drawing me to Himself. I didn’t want that to go away. And it didn’t.