For 15 years my family and I have spent our summers travelling and speaking at various camps across our country. I thought I understood what it meant to be a “camp youth worker”. Last summer my eyes were opened in a new way. My wife became the Program Director at Green Bay Bible Camp. I have a new appreciation for full time camp workers. I never really knew what it looked like to work 60 days in a row (I do now). I never really knew what it felt like to constantly carry the weight of responsibility for the safety of 200 guests that have been placed in your care (I still don’t, but I’ve watched my wife do it). I never really knew what it was like to laugh, cry, direct, support and hold accountable, a young staff functioning on little sleep in what may the most effective/important missional environment our country currently has…but I’ve prayed for my wife as she has…and I stand amazed. Amazed at the radical Kingdom commitment my wife, and you my friends, have made for the sake of the Gospel. Thank you. I can’t imagine what the spiritual climate of our country would be, without the work you do. Thank you.
I also can’t imagine how tired you are. How overwhelmed you might feel. How difficult it is to work through evaluations. The emotional highs and lows you may be experiencing. For some of you, how you wonder if you can do it again.
I believe you can. But first, you may need to recover.
As I’ve watched my wife this fall, I’ve been reminded of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah just finished being a part of an incredible spiritual victory…and he was tired, and he was depressed, and he wondered if he could do it again…he could have been in camp ministry. I love how God responded to him. He was crazy practical.
1 Kings 19:4-9
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
God’s advice to Elijah for his recovery wasn’t overtly “spiritual”, it was practical, it was physical, it was human.
Let me give you six practical ideas that may help you recover after a long summer.
1. Sleep. Get lots of sleep. Go to sleep early. Ditch your friends in the evening to crash. Take naps during the day. Give yourself permission to sleep. That’s what God did with Elijah. He put him to sleep.
2. Spend a little money on some good food. Fruits, vegetables, protein. Put away the camp food for awhile if possible…especially the junk food. I know there are leftovers in the tuck shop. Give it to your guests…or your kids (you will look like a hero). You go after the good stuff.
3. After sleep and food, start a little exercise program, something physical that you enjoy. Maybe it’s walking, running or climbing. Maybe it’s joining a rec league in your community. Do something that makes you breathe again.
4. Spend some time with friends that fill you up. You have spent the summer “giving” relationally. It’s OK to receive as well. Find some friends that understand your journey and want to invest in you…especially ones that make you laugh!
5. Get away. Go somewhere different. Many of you haven’t been off campus for 2 months. It’s time to remember that there is a world beyond camp. Sometimes taking a break from camp with your body, helps you take a break from camp with your mind.
6. Finally, spend some quiet time with the Father. Create space to hear the Father say, “This is my child, with whom I am well pleased.” Rest on His arms, knowing He loves you not because of what you have done, but because of who’s you are. You belong to the King.