I spent the summer travelling across the country speaking at Christian camps and it seemed like the closer and closer I got to September, the more and more camp leaders were resenting the fact that it’s all going to end and they will have to go back home.
Camp withdrawal…it’s a real thing and the reality is September can be a very difficult month for people who spent their entire summer serving as a camp leader in a Christian environment.
There’s this part of the Bible which I believe camp leaders can identify with when it comes to Naaman’s journey away from his home. He was the commander of Aram’s army who left his home to seek healing in Israel for his leprosy because he wasn’t able to experience that in his homeland. While he was away from home, he had this experience with the God which brings him to the conclusion that the God of Israel is the God of the whole world – But then he’s faced with this challenge knowing he has to go back home where he says “when my master enters the temple of Rimmon (Aram’s god) to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow down there also” – So basically after this experience in Israel, he recognizes it’s going to become a lot more challenging to live for God. He’s going into a community that didn’t exactly live for the same God in the same way and he’s now going to be expected to go with the flow with the culture he is surrounded by.
The reality is you are stepping back into an environment which may look much different than the one you experienced throughout the summer at camp. You will face challenges as you go back home which may cause you to feel that withdrawal from camp once you’re back in the midst of a different culture.
Transitioning from a camp community to your school or work environment will feel challenging as you may feel you will never find that type of community back home. Despite how you might feel, the reality is there are many Christian communities outside of camp from churches to youth groups to home groups to campus ministries. Please do not buy into the mindset that you only get that at camp. From your camp experience, hopefully, we can truly understand how vital it is to be a part of a Christian community when we are back home. I scratch my head sometimes when I hear people say they can “do church” on their own…or when they put little effort into finding a Christian community once we leave camp after seeing how valuable that community is. Camp reminds us of how important it is to have Christian friends and circles in our lives which clearly helps strengthens our walk with Christ. Believe it or not, there are Christian communities outside of camp…You just have to find them.
One of the perks of working at a camp is having a fancy job title which affirms you are a leader. However, once camp is over you no longer have that title anymore and when you go back home you may feel you are no longer a leader and have little to offer. Simply losing a title can allow us to lose a little bit of confidence in ourselves. Here’s the thing…You are not a leader because you had a title – You had a title because you are a leader. You didn’t have a title when they hired you – You had leadership qualities which was why they hired you. As you go back home, you may not have that same title anymore, but you still have those leadership qualities which are even more developed than they were before. You are a leader amongst people, so don’t stop being a leader when you go back home just because you no longer have a name tag and walkie-talkie.
The natural feeling going back home is that we will become so busy that we will no longer have the same time we did at camp to focus on God. Here’s the reality – You were most likely extremely busy at camp and most likely you didn’t just do Bible study for 18 hours a day. From prepping, eating, cleaning, social life, games, conversations and everything in between, it wasn’t “godly” because you did it under the camp umbrella – It was godly because everything you did at camp had the mindset that it was all for God. Why can’t we continue to do that in everything you do when we go back home? From school, studying, social life, work, relationships, sports and everything else – is it possible to keep the same intentionality that everything we do is for Him?
Naaman’s concern going back home was answered simply with “go in peace” – Shalom which isn’t the peace that means life will be problem free. It’s the peace despite what challenges may come your way, that God is with you every step of the way. So go in peace and know God is bigger than just being limited to Christian camps.