A number of months ago, a girl (about eleven years old) found acceptance. She is a girl with some struggles and some challenges. It isn’t always easy for her. But, for a week, she found acceptance. During that same week, a boy had his first conversation with God, as he understood it. Another girl entered that week afraid to try to swim, and was floating with grace in the pool and well on her way to swimming by Friday. People who never thought they’d become friends became friends. A boy became excited when he realized something really special about his bible and the way it relayed the Psalms–he couldn’t wait to get home and show this to his pastor. One young woman sat and played her ukulele as other campers sat with her, singing songs. Kids learned about King David. Kids learned about Jesus. Kids learned about Moses. They asked tough questions about faith. They asked tough questions about life. One day, a group of boys encountered a wasp nest and a counselor lured the wasps away from the children, being stung himself more times than I can remember. Ten? Fifteen? It was a moment, for the kids, to realize that someone was in pain because he was protecting them. It was a moment to talk about the Christian message of sacrifice and what it means to have someone sacrifice one’s self on their behalf. That week in June was the week a boy from Greece became part of camp, learning about American customs while at the same time teaching us about Greek customs. There were games, crafts, stories, prayers, and community–sometimes that community was the most difficult part of all, just like in real life. That week was the week middle schoolers as well as elementary aged children were at camp at Christmount in Black Mountain. I know these things happened, because I was there.
I have it on good authority that another week at Christmount last summer, the week of the high schoolers attending, profound experiences were had. Morning watch, small groups exploring what it means to believe in Jesus, prayer partners revealed, worship experiences together in the darkness, great laughter, a senior banquet, a talent show, communion at Blackwood Haven, moments of extreme and overwhelming emotions. I wasn’t there this year, during the high school camp, but I know what happens. I’ve been a counselor that week at Christmount for many years.
Christmount, however, isn’t our only option for young people in our church. Camp Caroline, in Arapahoe, North Carolina, is a camp on the water, with a whole different set of activities and traditions for our young people–all of it, as at Christmount, an investment in sharing God’s love with the next generations.
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, First Christian Church is having its BBQ this weekend. This BBQ has empowered parents to send their children to camp for more than ten years. At camp, young people are given more than a series of lessons, more than a time of fun play in the mountains, more than an overnight experience of nature. At camp, young people are allowed to figure out a little more about how they are with God, and how God is with them. In addition, young people gain a week of independence from parents and family and friends back home, and discover their strengths along with some life skills. At camp, hearts are changed, lives are transformed, a new chapter in a young person’s life begins.
As society teaches our children less and less about the faith, as sports and family obligations have come to edge out attendance at church and Sunday school, as parents and grandparents have become perplexed about how to help our young people glean what we have learned along the way, camps like Christmount and Camp Caroline are filling an important void to teach some of the most important lessons in life. Four of our young people went last year–three with great support from the Christian Men’s Fellowship and income from this BBQ.
So, this weekend, won’t you come on down to FCC on East Blvd in Charlotte for a plate or a pound (or two!) of delicious hickory smoked Q with homemade sauce and slaw? Won’t you be interested in telling your friends, bringing your coworkers, won’t you be getting an extra pound to take home to family? The flavor and quality of the BBQ is reason enough to spend some money on a meal in Dilworth this weekend.
When you do spend that money, you support more than a group of hardworking men and women who have put in great energy night and day this week to provide that food there at the drive-thru. When you buy your meal in Dilworth on the corner of East Blvd. and Dilworth Road, East, a group of children and youth will have the opportunity to encounter God in a way they haven’t yet.
And isn’t that priceless?