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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Memories of a mom's first church camp experience

August arrived before I was quite ready. Our son Seth had been talking about attending camp in southern Illinois for quite some time. I double-checked his list of things to take to camp. Yes, he had everything he needed.

We loaded up the car and set out for the camp. We may as well have been driving to the other side of the world. My little boy of 12 was going to camp for the first time. Sunday afternoon to the following Friday, almost an entire week! Was he ready for this? Was I ready for this?

We went over some last-minute reminders: stay out of poison ivy; listen to your adult leaders; yes, we have packed enough clean underwear for each day; tell the pastor if there is anything you need; be sure to eat, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest .... Had I forgotten anything?

When we arrived at the camp there was organized chaos. Kids were everywhere. A big gray bus from Steelville was sitting in the parking lot. Where had all these Lutheran kids come from? My husband Mike, Seth and I walked to the main building. Pastor Marlin Otte was sitting at a table wearing a camp T-shirt, a pair of shorts and a Cardinals baseball cap going over a list of campers. Parents were checking their children in. Kids were reacquainting and laughing and talking. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing ... why was I so unsure?

After giving all the necessary forms to Pastor Otte and the other volunteers, it was time for the parents to leave. Was there anything else I needed to tell Seth before we got in the car and headed the 10 miles up the road to our home? By now Mike had my arm. It actually felt as if he were pulling me to the parking lot. How dare he hurry me along? Didn't he know that I had to make sure Seth didn't have any questions to ask me? We gave him a big hug and kiss and told him to have a great week.

As we drove away, a tear ran down my cheek. I realized that I was the one who had been hesitant and insecure about this camping experience. I had to trust that God would be there for my son. Seth was ready to experience some of the most exciting times of his young Christian life — and he did just that. He continued to go to Little Egypt Bible Camp until he was old enough for Adventure Camp. At Adventure Camp he enjoyed spelunking and rock rappelling, along with Bible study, camp songs and crafts. He met and enjoyed friendships with other Lutheran kids, some into his college years. His faith in God and his love for God's creation was nurtured those weeks each August.

I'm so thankful for Little Egypt Bible Camp and how it ministered to so many of our young people and for those who volunteered a week of their time each August. It's too bad that lives have become so busy with secular activities that young people don't have the time for a week of church camp. I think a week without television, computers and, God forbid, cell phones would do all of us a world of good. Maybe, just maybe, we could hear the "still small voice of God speaking."


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