This summer I have explored the boundaries of my comfort zone. I took a job working at a summer camp as a counselor. I’ve never been a camp counselor before, and I’ve only been to camp a couple times. The camp where I work is a Christian camp, and though I've always attended church I never considered myself to be an expert on the Bible. Yet throughout the six weeks that I have served I have grown in ways I never thought or imagined possible.
The camp is a Lutheran Christian camp in Arden, North Carolina called Lutheridge. Lutheridge is a part of the Novus Way Ministries which provides camp opportunities to campers of all ages, though the summer camp focuses on kids from first through twelfth grades. Lutheridge provides an opportunity to learn more about God and faith in a majestic outdoor environment. It gives campers a chance to live in “a place apart”, where there are no phones, computers, tablets, or wifi. Being so disconnected sounds scary, doesn’t it? Maybe at first, but once you finally unplug and accept the peace and serenity of nature in His creation you find out that Lutheridge is the sort of place that today’s society has been craving. Removing these common distractions allows you to experience uncommon peace, enjoying friendship and fellowship with new friends and old.
At camp I have worked with a lot of campers from various backgrounds and of various abilities. They have come from the full range of economic and religious backgrounds. I’ve had high achievers and people with disabilities. Yet at camp these things don’t matter. We still share the same experience together.
Each night at camp we finish the day with vespers. Vespers is a fancy word for “evening worship”, and camp counselors are responsible for leading vespers at night with their cabin group or even the whole area which could be a group of as many as forty or fifty campers! As a new counselor the idea of leading vespers was intimidating, especially considering that many of these campers have been coming to Lutheridge for ten years or more, and I was only a 20-year-old who was still discovering the depth of my faith.
As a first year counselor it took me some time to become comfortable leading this time of worship. It was only last year that I was even comfortable praying out loud in front of people. Leading an evening worship was not something that I saw myself doing. Was this really what God was asking of me? However, as I studied and prayed I found that I gained confidence. I realized that despite how I felt that I was being used by God to reach these kids hearts and minds in a way that they may never have felt before. God was using me to help change their lives for the better – and not just while they were at camp with me, but hopefully beyond camp and for the rest of their lives. This realization helped me to put aside my anxiety, and to embrace my role. Each vespers – each prayer – that I have led at Lutheridge has helped me to feel confident that God’s message is being delivered to the campers, no matter how comfortable I might or might not be when talking about it.
I encourage each of you to venture out of your comfort zone this upcoming fall. Take a new class that might not be a part of your major. Talk to someone in a class that you don’t know or who doesn’t sit next to you. Whatever it is that causes you fear or anxiety, face it head on. Know that God is working through you to change someone’s day or someone’s life in a positive way.