I just spent a week at Camp Kletos with sixty-five campers, aged nine to fourteen. They were divided into six groups, each group led by two high school students, one boy and one girl. Six other high school students provided support in activities, and eight adults rounded out our staff. We played games, competed for points, memorized scripture, swam, attended workshops, presented skits, listened to morning teaching and worshiped. Yes, we worshiped.
This was my twenty-fifth year at this camp and I have always been amazed when the children step forward to worship. This year the boys led the way, stepping out of their seats and moving forward toward the band to lift their hands. They wanted to be in God’s presence.
At the beginning, their hearts were open in varying degrees. Some watched curiously; they were not too sure about this. Others entered in wholeheartedly. Many were in between.
Now, watching boys worship is always interesting. I watched one nine-year-old crawl under a bench and turn on his flashlight, shining it through the cracks. A few minutes later, he was up front on his knees praying for himself, then praying for his friends. Then a few minutes later, he was back under the bench again with his flashlight, exploring the cracks.
There was one eighth grade boy that stayed in the back and watched. He observed everything. I was standing in the back also so that I could see what was going on; it allowed me to keep an eye on him. Later in the week, he was still standing in the back watching. I asked him if he had any questions. “No, sir,” he replied. I asked him if he would like to pray with me. He said, “Yes, sir.” We prayed, and then he flashed me the biggest smile. The next night, the back was not good enough for him; open and receptive, he moved up into the aisle toward the front. I noticed that one of the other boys was praying for him. He opened his eyes, saw me, smiled and closed his eyes again.
There were tears, there was some laughter. Most of all, there was the opening of hearts, there was prayer for one another, there was the breaking down of walls, there was an expression of love for Jesus and for each other.
At the end of the week, we asked the kids to tell us their favorite thing about camp. The overwhelming answer was “chapel.”
Children are wide open to Jesus. The camp experience has played an important part in the spiritual growth of our own children through the years. Our goal has been to provide the opportunity for them to experience God’s Spirit touching them and speaking to them.
After chapel on Wednesday night, as I was moving among the bunks, making sure that all were in their beds, one seventh grader named Matthew spoke to me. “Mr. Currie,” he said, “this was the greatest experience of my life!”
Encountering Jesus Christ is the greatest experience of anyone’s life.
Matthew got it right!