Shoulder to shoulder, the sixth-grade students jostled each other as they made their way to the nearest pathway, stirring up a dust cloud in their wake. Intense eagerness to start their grand adventure at Indian Hills Camp caused them to push forward with momentum, unaware of the markers that would point them to their first destination. After greeting the pungent, fuzzy-eared donkeys, the kids trustingly rerouted when guided by verbal directions.
Little did they know how practical and appropriate would be the camp theme: AWARENESS. Loud background music greeted us at orientation in Folsom Barn. As the ice breaker games, camp songs, and dances died down, the tempo changed as the worship songs subdued and focused their hearts toward God and hearing instruction. Camp leader Aussie shared that the leaders’ goal was to aid campers in becoming more aware of creation and Jesus. He defined awareness as the use of one’s senses to become conscious or informed of one’s surroundings. The challenge began with every cabin group needing to memorize and recite Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Many opportunities unfolded to apply awareness of the surroundings. The campers were taken to the interactive farmyard where they observed firsthand the behavioral or physical adaptations displayed in some of the animals that helped them survive or make better use of an ecosystem’s resources. They went on a survival hike to identify medicinal plants. Campers were given first aid facts about recognizing harmful snakes, as well as preventing and treating snake bites. The students were given a class on distinguishing between an Engelmann Oak, Scrub Oak, and a Coastal Live Oak. Also, they were fortunate to experience an astronomy class that allowed them to stargaze and identify constellations.
Each class and activity was founded upon awareness of the amazing Creator and elicited a personal response to His invitation. “Are you aware that God made you in His image and took nine months to mold you exactly how He wanted you to be? Are you aware that your perceived imperfections are part of His perfect design? Are you willing to commit your life to Him as your Lord and Savior?”
Finally, Indian Hills gave the campers the chance to be aware and respond positively to others around them. It was easy to get frustrated and make excuses when the competition got fierce in Mission Impossible, but it was harder to congratulate the winner. It was easy to judge the extreme emotion of others when a classmate got injured, but it was harder to ask a grieving student to join us for dinner. It was easy to try to quiet and calm the enthusiasm of a standout worshipper, but it was harder to admire his unashamed love for the Lord. We learned to pray for opportunities to serve others and to maintain relationships.Sixth grade camp was more than just a fun time exploring and experiencing new activities. It was a reawakening of awareness toward our Creator, others around us, and the world God made.