We took off last Thursday evening and headed down to Indiana to spend some time with some of my (Becca's) family at Prairie Camp. The boys had lots of fun playing with cousins, sleeping in a little cabin, and going to their special classes. Adam left us on Saturday morning and headed even further south to an Archery event where he enjoyed doing whatever you do at such events (shooting at stuff, talking about bows, shooting at more stuff, etc.). Overall, it was a very fun weekend for all of us. I enjoyed being back at a place that has significant memories for me for the first 23 years of my life. My family always attended the week of family camp. I later than went to the pee-wee and junior camps. Then I went to the teen camps. And after that, I counseled for 4 years for teen camp. Now if you didn't grow up going to Prairie Camp, you might look at it and not be impressed. There is no lake. No pool. No super sweet gym. The bathrooms smell funny. Campers were assigned to dish duty. You can never get your feet clean. It's in the middle of nowhere. The seating in the tabernacle is uncomfortable. But we sure had a whole lot of JESUS! My involvement with this camp played a significant role in my decision to live my life for Christ.
Flashback to my freshman year of high school. Volleyball tryouts were the same week as teen camp. Cuts would be made that week. There were more girls trying out than positions were available. I greatly desired to play volleyball, but I also knew how God refreshed me, challenged me, and taught me through my time at camp every year. I loved to play volleyball, but there were more important things in life to me. Without any pressure from my parents, I made the decision to go to camp and risk getting cut. I had attended every open gym that summer but standing before my coaches with the letter that I had written about why I would be missing the week of tryouts left this 14-year old pretty nervous. They questioned my decision as I told them why attending this camp was so important to me. They told me they couldn't guarantee me a spot on the team and I may not be able to play. I told them I understood. I was not an all-star. I was risking quite a lot. They had the reasoning and the power to cut me. Fortunately, God was faithful to me and my decision to put Him first. I played volleyball throughout high school. Every year, I took the same risk. It cost me extra sprints, sitting out the first few matches, and teammates not understanding why I was doing what I did. During my senior year, our team was ranked in the state and we made it to semi-state. I was not a stand-out on the team. Not even close. But it was incredible and I was thankful to be a part of a team with such accomplishments. And I'm thankful that I was able to see the big picture and that extra-curricular things were fun and had value to them, but there were other things that would have an even more significant impact on my life. For me, attending Prairie Camp was one of them.
And last weekend when we were there, I thought there might even be a chance that I would be going to see Jesus face-to-face while at Prairie Camp. (No joke!) Saturday evening, tornado warnings came through the area. Being at a rural camp without any sort of significant storm shelters can leave one pretty nervous! Adam was still gone at his archery event over 1 1/2 hours south of us (and not that he could protect us from a tornado). While the rest of my family tried to secure and put a few things away at my parent's cabin, I took off with the boys to head to the basement of the retreat center. Before we got there, some others told us that it was already full and we'd have to head to the tabernacle. The tabernacle had some large, strong beams....but it was old and definitely did not give me a safe feeling! Knowing I was leading 2 small boys that were scared of storms, I knew I could not show them that I was worried. We took a seat and I waited for the rest of my family to show. They never did. Apparently, there was still standing room in the basement of the retreat center and they had headed there since they thought that's where we would be. Lights flashed off and on. Winds picked up. The sky got eerily dark. I tried to imagine if I would be strong enough to flip over the wooden bench on top of us if things got bad and if I'd be able to cover both boys with my body. I sent Adam a desperate text or two. I kept the welling tears from falling. I prayed and prayed some more. Thankfully, there were some individuals that took note of us and shared little flashlights with the boys. And another that led the group in the tabernacle in a hymn sing...."Showers of Blessings," "Great is Thy Faithfulness," and "How Great Thou Art" started off slow but picked up momentum. After about an hour, the storm passed and there was no tornadoes or significant damage done thankfully.
Despite and through a scary storm, God blessed us with wonderful times with family and some friends. There were several powerful services and worship times in the few days we were there. I'm so glad we were able to fit this into a busy summer!