SOUTH LYON, MI – For years, I have had a picture that comes up on my digital picture frame in my office. It’s a picture of a little boy, about 12 years old at the time. He is smiling and wearing a leather type “Indiana Jones” style hat. I remember taking the picture during “water recreation” day at Metamorphosis Camp a few years ago. Since that time, it has been good to see Jared and his friends at camp every year, along with that same hat.
This year was Jared’s last year at camp as a student since this was his senior year. I found myself watching him and the other seniors from his era who had been at Metamorphosis year after year, as they went about their last week at camp. I noticed the strong bond that had been formed. The relationships that had been built over time. It was very evident in the games that were being played during rec time. Musical chairs ended up morphing into a large dance party. “Egg, chicken, ape, man, superman,” a different version of “Rock, paper, scissors,” was typical of this particular bunch of kids. All played with the same goofiness that makes camp…camp.
Every year, part of our team time is spent putting together team videos. This year’s theme of “Bambi Life,” seemed pretty fitting with all of the memories that we had made through the years. Every year we watch the videos, laugh together,and applaud the efforts of each team. For some reason, little to no explanation of the film is necessary, all of us seem to know what is being expressed.
It’s funny how you meet students on that first day of camp and before the week is done, there is an attachment. As the week goes on, there is a trust and a bond that binds you together. As you study God’s Word together every day and hear the hearts of the students, you long for God to work in the hearts and lives of these folks.
Every now and then, God reminds me He is still at work in people’s lives. This was never more evident as I stood at the front again this year to pray with different students coming forward during the decision time. Standing there I watched students hugging and crying and praying for each other, God was at work in so many lives. Even after getting back home and seeing and hearing words of encouragement from those at camp, this was still very evident. Not only had there been relationships built over the week between the students, there were relationships built with God as well. This is the part of camp that is most important. This is why we have youth camps like Metamorphosis.
On the last night, I was sitting in the game room with a few students when Jared came up and handed one of his friends a charcoaled piece of something. “Here,” he said, “this is part of my hat. I burned it because this was the end of an era for me. I want you to have part of it.” Can I just say, my heart sank at that moment? Who would have thought a silly hat would mean so much? My mind raced back to that summer day just a few short years ago when I met this young man and his friends. I don’t think that it was so much the hat but rather, the many memories of team times, ping-pong games, camp dodge ball, praying together, sharing our hearts with him and others that made that moment a special one.
“Lord, please watch over these students in the days ahead,” I prayed silently. “Thank you for such a great opportunity for kids to come together for a week to make memories and bonds that will last a lifetime. Thank you for continuing to stir our hearts and make a difference in their lives.”
On Friday morning, we were getting ready to pack up to leave camp when a boy came up to me. As I recall, he was about 12. “I can’t wait until next year for Metamorphosis Camp.” I couldn’t help but smile and think, “this little fellow was at the beginning of a new era of his own.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Randy Weaks is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church, South Lyon, MI and regularly serves at Bambi Lake during Metamorphosis Camp each summer.