I recently had the opportunity to assist with holiday camps run by Wesley Mission at their Vision Valley site during the autumn school holidays. Although one of the most exhausting weeks I have ever dragged myself through – it really challenged my perspective in a lot of ways.
There’s something about being in a completely different environment, with unfamiliar people, and a new set of responsibilities that challenges who you consider yourself to be. Often I can identify myself by the things that I do, but take all that away and who are you?
The leaders (who I now have the most utmost of respect for) unwittingly set a new standard for the way I approach areas of my life.
While it appears obvious that a unified group of leaders is inherently valuable – the reality of being able to establish such a team is rarely an easy thing. Unfortunately people are flawed, value themselves by title or responsibility (including myself), but the unity demonstrated on camp throughout activities, discussions, games, etc. made me realise that I can be more concerned with a better way of doing things, then being on board with someone else.
Perhaps number one was the result of number two but I became a Christian at an early age and have grown up with the concept of prayer. But there is “knowing that you should spend time in prayer”, and then there is “knowing the privilege and value of prayer”. In a situation where at some ridiculous hour of the night you have just managed to get campers to stay in their rooms, and delirium sets in with the leaders, prayer is not the first thing that jumps to my mind. But spending that hour with other leaders past midnight, to thank God or make requests, reminded me of the grace we’ve been given to communicate with Him, but more than that, the way God allows us to affect situations through prayer.
Having grown up in youth groups, I’m not a stranger to being involved with youngsters. It’s easy to take an interest and be involved with kids who you genuinely get along with, but the ones that are challenging, don’t fit in or have special needs are where your real motivations can make their appearance. The reality of a 24 x 5 camp is that at some point, if you’re motivated by anything other than love, it’s going to become apparent. What encouraged me was the genuine love that other leaders had for those that they were looking after and made me consider if my motivations are always the same.
Being who you are, in all circumstances – I guess another way of describing it is being a person of integrity. If you are a Christian then the bible is something that is important to you, not just something you know you should read from time to time because that’s the thing to do. Geoff, who spoke on the camp, was so authentic in his approach to sharing that it challenged me for my own opportunities, am I authentic in saying “this is the truth”, or do I instead say “this is what you want to hear” or “this is what I’ve been told is the truth”?
If you’ve ever considered helping out with a holiday camp, or would like to donate to Wesley Mission’s Operation Hope, check out the Vision Valley website. On top of just being a great fun time – it was a pivotal experience and encouraged me to take stock of who I am, not just what I do.