Camp Won’t Change Your Life

Every summer, I get the opportunity to speak at two or three Jr High or High School Summer Camps around the country. It is awesome. I love camp. There are so many great things that happen at summer camp.

As a speaker, I tend to tell a lot of stories…that bring a lot of laughter…that make a point…that encourage students to make a decision in their spiritual life. There are typically a couple of key times throughout the week that students will find they want to make some changes – they want to live in a different trajectory.

I am always in awe of students who will do the hard work of looking at their own hearts and recognize they need to change the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are blocking their own growth. My message is simple – follow Jesus…put your faith and your future in God’s hands.

Not only do I get to share stories, but I get to hear their stories. They talk about pain, about poor decisions, about success, about failure, and about hope. They come to camp where the distractions of an overly busy life are set aside for a few days. As they hear and respond to a simple message – they make some decisions and those decisions count. Sometimes those decisions are considered to be breakthrough moments and sometimes they just happen as a result of quiet contemplation.

Near the end of camp, I always share the following with these wonderful students…

Camp won’t change your life.

Now don’t get me wrong. Some of you showed up this week with your life headed in a certain direction and now you’ve made some decisions that move you down a different path. Some of you couldn’t see past yourself and somehow you’ve opened yourself up to the Good News that God loves you and you’re invited to live in an even bigger story than the one of your own making. Some of you have found freedom and hope and peace because you confessed the garbage in your life to the One who offers forgiveness and not condemnation. All of this important and meaningful and significant. But change…real change…doesn’t happen here.

Your life will be truly changed when you return to everyday, hum-drum, craziness that is your life and live out the decisions, the perspectives, and the freedom on a DAILY BASIS. This isn’t some one-time, good-forever, no-effort-required type of change. It’s the acceptance that God has done what only God can do and now you must go out and live in this NEW way.

We will know that your life is changed when two weeks from now, a month from now, even a year from now when we get back together for another camp – you have lived a different life because God has made you a different person.

I guess I tell the students this because I’ve been back to a camp a year later. There are some students who talk about an incredible year of growth and discovery and the CHANGE they experienced. And there are some who show up telling the same stories they told last year – nothing’s changed because they thought this one experience would change everything.

It seems to come down to this: In the energy and emotion and encouragement of a camp setting, it’s often easy to MAKE a decision. But what’s difficult is MANAGING that decision on a daily basis. I’m not saying that spiritual growth and change is dependent on us. I believe that it’s the work of God in us. But I am saying that we must be obedient to the light and the truth that God shows us on a daily basis. If we ignore what God has revealed to us (disobedience?) then it seems to me that our faith journey is only a matter of convenience.

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  1. Tim, you are so right. Camp doesn’t change your life, only you can. And I still want to thank you for helping me see that. Lately I’ve been feeling like my old self again where I feel lazy to worship. But when I do I visit this website and I feel rejuvinated again. Your awesome. God bless.

  2. Tim, as always I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I related to your story of the "Best Weight Loss Plan". After reading this post, I am reflecting on how both my spiritual journey and physical journeys are similar. Especially after reading your quote: "it’s often easy to MAKE a decision. But what’s difficult is MANAGING that decision on a daily basis."

    I totally agree. In both cases God is needing obedience and effort on my part. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Author

      Hi Cyndi. Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I'm glad you found a couple of these posts insightful enough to get you thinking. That's always my hope in writing them. I agree that there are similarities in how we discipline ourselves physically as well as spiritually. I probably need to write a post about discipline, but that might be too convicting. 🙂

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