There is a memory at every turn. I just have come home from a camp visit. One of the roles I have as a Senior Vice President is to visit the camps that are in the division in which I serve. In the Southwestern Division we have three camp properties: Woodleaf, Lost Canyon, and Oakbridge. I am just now flying home from my Woodleaf visit and for me it was a walk down memory lane – some memories are harder than others.
Woodleaf 1981. I am a kid who has no faith, and said “yes” to a camp for no other reason than the friends going, the jet ski’s, and the mini-bikes. I had grown-up going to basketball camp, which is hard work, and so this concept of guys and girls together at camp having a blast – I was in!
The week lived up to the promise, “Best Week of Your Life.” I can say that now since everything that happened on that week has crawled, walked, and ran into my life today. I met Christ that week and my life did a 180° turn from all the directions I was going. On this trip I walked to the tree where it all started …
Woodleaf 1982. I was a reluctant Work Crew kid. My job was to make all the beverages for the campers. I spent a LOT of time in the Woodleaf kitchen. At the end of that week I was told by my Work Crew boss that my attitude had the power to sway and influence a group and that I needed to be careful. He said I did not always use it correctly and was a deterrent at times to our entire group. I went to the back of the dining hall to see where this discipline moment transpired.
Woodleaf 1987-98. I took hundreds of kids to camp at Woodleaf and watched kid after kid meet the Lord. We were in Bunkhouse, Tombstone, and Bonanza. We played hoops, Frisbee golf, swam, and did the ropes course. Year after year I watched kids lives transform. I walked past the cabins to remember these sweet moments. (See pic)
Woodleaf 1996-2000. I did assignments with what now are my “Covenant Brothers.” I look at all 7 of the guys I walk life with and they all tie back to a common thread: Woodleaf. There was many a night when I had the privilege to speak of Jesus on the cross or walk back on another night to my cabin with my clothes soaked in Coke from the movie skit. Sweet, sweet memories! Last night I walked the same road that I would walk after the cross talk. What a privilege!
Woodleaf 2001. Hudson was 10 months old. I would push him in the stroller in the morning to give mom a little time alone and or to shower. There is a picture of my dad and Hudson taken on the Assignment Team deck that I will forever cherish from this summer. This summer he turns 13 … time moves so swiftly.
Woodleaf 2006. My mom, dad, (and their friends) Babe, and Don came by for a camp visit and tour. I remember the lunch we had, the tour, and the walking around the camp. We had a great lunch and I remember my dad appearing to be very proud of what he called “The Young Life Operation.” I also remember Marni and I being in great pain from having 5 miscarriages and being at a Young Life property in the summer which can feel like a “baby factory.” It was where we somewhat argued about adopting . . . and of course, this is another story all together. I also remember this summer we moved from the “old clubroom” to the “new clubroom” in the middle of our session. I walked by both club rooms and smiled.
Woodleaf 2013. As I walked the camp all the memories flooded my mind while I watched over 300 kids having the week of their “lives.” I talked with so many kids – John, Mason, Trevor, and Maria and asked them how the week was going. All of them were having a ball, and all of them last night heard the “gospel.” The speaker, Jason, gave some great images to give a clear picture of what happened when Jesus took our place.
“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it!” (Phil. 1:6). The memories that I was clinging to while at Woodleaf – a little 2 year old that is becoming a teenager, a father with whom I would love the chance to hug again, the gratefulness of my sweet wife, the miracle the Lord provided in 2006 after leaving Woodleaf in our son Charlie, and a group of men with whom I walk life with and keep me focused on the important things.
I don’t think the kids at Woodleaf realize all that is transpiring for them. I think they are just taking in a week full of surprises as well as hearing the good news. Who knows, maybe one day they will take a walk down memory lane.