Matt* was a star middle school athlete heading into his high school athletic career. He and his teammate, Nick*, were great friends, they practiced before and after school even if the team wasn’t practicing and enjoyed playing video games, eating pizza, and watching movies. Matt’s goal was to be on a college team and try to make it big in the pros!
The summer between 8th and 9th grade Nick invited Matt to attend a sports camp. The two friends had attended sports camps together before, but this one was different. It was a program at Camp Wanake, a site that Nick’s church supported.
Matt wasn’t sure it would be a good use of his time. “I need to get ready for tryouts,” he explained. Nick assured him that they would get plenty of exercise hiking hills and playing games, plus they would get to be in the woods (something they both enjoyed) and they could make new friends. Matt considered it for a few weeks and decided to go. “It is only for a week,” he told himself. “I have all summer to get to my peak performance!”
Once at Wanake, Matt and Nick were part of a small family group of 10 campers and 2 counselors. Their family group ate meals together, swam together, hiked together, built campfires together, played games together, and prayed together. “I didn’t know anything about praying,” Matt reported. “Other than before a game, I had never experienced this. Praise singing and Bible study were also new to me.
Early in the week, our counselors talked about a God who was all-powerful and all-loving. A God greater than anything in this world. A God who loved me no matter how I performed as an athlete or what I did. As I listened to the scriptures and others share their experiences, I realized that I had sin in my life and, other than my athletic aspirations, I didn’t have much hope in my life.
I decided to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life. My counselors gave me a Bible I could use at camp and take home with me (I didn’t have one), prayed with me daily, and taught me how to spend time with Jesus.”
“Back at home I am reading my Bible each day, spending time with Jesus in prayer, and attending worship and youth group with Nick at his church,” Matt reports. “I am thankful that Nick invited me to Camp Wanake. Without his invitation and my counselors sharing their faith and encouraging me, I would not have known about a God who loves me through Jesus! I have found forgiveness, acceptance, and love!”
Thank you for offering campers like Matt this opportunity.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the camper.