Seven Lessons from Summer Camp

Shawn McEvoy




It’s been twelve years since I last assumed the pseudonym of “Frostbite” for three months in the piney woods of East Texas . From 1991 through 1993, I summered at Pine Cove Ranch, a Christian camp for 6th-12th graders near Tyler. Every week, a new batch of campers would arrive, and along with my colleagues Bushwacker, Backfire, Fezzik and the rest, we’d herd them in for six days of water sports, horses, biking, Bible study, sermons, and silliness.


Twelve years, but the experiences of those three collegiate summers have left me with a plethora of lessons that stand the test of time. Some of those lessons were more socially educational. However, I was able to distill the wealth of spiritually-beneficial wisdom into the following seven categories:


1)      God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called ( 1 Corinthians 7:17 ; Romans 8:28 ). This phrase was standard fare from the mouth of Ambush, our camp director. The truth in the statement extends back to Moses, Abraham, Joseph, David… just about everyone used by God for big things who, on physical examination, didn’t have the degrees, stature, or qualification for the jobs that needed to be done. You’ve never spoken in public, acted in a skit, or led a Bible study? You may be right where the Lord wants you, so get ready for Him to bestow His qualification upon you.


It also works in reverse – you think you’re qualified for one thing, God has a different purpose. As a youth ministry major who loved water sports, surely His place for me was with the 12th-grade guys and the waterfront. So why was I assigned to 6th-graders, tennis, and archery? Somebody messed up! Turns out it was me, for getting insulted. I was in precisely the place where I could be of most use to the kingdom, and sixth-graders were much better at buying into my off-the-wall behavior than the too-cool seniors…


2)      If you want to learn something, teach it ( Colossians 2:2 ; Philippians 4:13 ). Surely there had been another mistake. I’d never handled a gun in my life. Were they actually assigning me to teach skeet shooting to junior high boys? I hoped the camp had good insurance. Actually, they had good assurance – the blessed kind. I became an expert in shotgun safety and numerous other activities. The Lord gives you what you need via your willing heart. Incidentally, teaching what you don’t know very well can even have great rewards: nothing transforms a kid into a beacon of confidence like teaching him or her to execute an Eskimo roll in a kayak. Nothing.