Camp Quaker Haven 2018 is in the books! As always, God used the ordinary, yet beautiful, campgrounds in Ark City, KS to bless our students and form them in important ways. Camp requires many, many hours of work and a whole lot of energy to happen, but it’s always 100% worth it. How do we know this? By hearing from our students about how God challenged, inspired, equipped, encouraged and pursued them. This blog post has the unique perspectives of four individuals who had different roles and experiences, but one thing is woven throughout: God did something special at camp. Keep reading to find out more about their experiences, and make sure to check out the pictures at the bottom!
Ian Bivins—Sr. at Friendswood High School, Counselor at Jr. High Camp
This year I was able to experience both High School and Junior High Camp from different perspectives, but the experience that most shaped me was my time as a counselor at Junior High Camp. I remember Josiah told me the morning before the start of Junior High Camp that the kids in our cabin were going to love me because I’m someone that they can look up to easily and they want to be like me when they’re my age. I didn’t really think much of this at the time, because I expected to take a “back seat” role as a counselor and kind of let Josiah and Daniel (a Friends University student) take the lead. Throughout the week as a cabin, we all became so close and I felt myself becoming best friends with these Junior High guys. I formed really tight relationships with all these guys and I’m so thankful that God put each and every one of them into my life.
I need to specifically talk about one guy who was in our cabin who single handedly made my counselor experience so memorable and who changed my views on my life and how I look at other people. Before camp started I found out we would have someone named Devin that had Loeys-Dietz syndrome in our cabin. I’ll admit, I was very quick to judge and the task of having him in our cabin was intimidating. But me and Devin almost immediately became best friends, and I’m so thankful we did. Devin always rode around on his electric powered chair and he went a little bit slower than everyone so I would always stay back and walk with him from place to place, and this is how I started to get to know him. Throughout the whole week, it was very hard to find us not together, whether it was just sitting and talking, playing ping pong, playing Frisbee golf, or even just sitting next to each other in chapel. He called all his friends at camp “Jeff” and I’m very proud to say I was “Jeff the 2nd” right behind him at “Jeff the 1st.” We made so many memories together like the time he yelled in my ear to wake me up from my nap, and he loved to make fun of me and “roast” me for the things that I would wear or that I couldn’t pick up girls like he could. There are so many other amazing moments that we shared together, but Devin made me understand that everyone in life is special and has their own story and purpose for being on this planet, and that is something I’ll never forget.
Katie Newton—Sr. and Jr. High Camp Director, FHS Class of 2015
Camp Quaker Haven has been included in my summer plans every year since I was a seventh grader and was crucial to my faith growing up. I have assumed the role of camper, counselor, worship leader, and this year I was one of two directors! Directing meant constantly being in front of people with a microphone in front of my face WITHOUT my guitar and little to no singing involved, which basically is way out of anything I’m comfortable with. Isn’t it funny that we know God uses us and teaches us most when we are willing to be obedient, especially in the direction of discomfort, yet we are still hesitant to say yes sometimes? I said a big fat “NO” to directing when I was first asked because I just knew I couldn’t do it, but fortunately there are people who believed in me because they believe in Jesus and trust that with Jesus guiding us we will be led faithfully and mercifully.
Through directing camp, I got to witness a whole new side of worship. I finally understand what it looks like to worship through games, through meetings, through free time, and yes… to worship through the really messy, hard stuff. I had to work through a lot of pride and be okay with not being the best at everything I was doing, and to trust that I have other gifts besides just musical talent! Ultimately, saying YES to directing reminded me that saying YES to Jesus will always be worth the cost. Even with the hardest challenges I faced, the outcome of knowing Christ deeper and watching everyone at CQH fall more in love with Him makes any challenge worth it. My biggest takeaway, at the moment, is to encourage you to say YES to whatever Jesus is leading you to because I promise He is already there!
Sallianne Roher, Sr. at Friendswood High School, Counselor at Jr. High Camp
Camp Quaker Haven 2018 was not only a total blast, but a much needed retreat from the ordinary distractions of everyday life in order to intentionally seek to dwell in the presence of the Lord! The theme of camp this year was Becoming Who We Are, centered around learning about our true identity as children of God and about what it means to reject the labels that the world gives us and the labels that we give ourselves. To me, camp was all about rediscovering the truth of who I am, and getting rid of the lies about myself that I had blindly accepted as truth.
We had awesome cabin times at both Junior High (at which I was a counselor for our Friendswood girls) and High School Camp, time to debrief the message of the night and dive deeper into our own walks with Jesus. One high school cabin time, the girls in our cabin all picked up rocks, each symbolizing a label we held, and then took turns throwing them as far as we could off a small cliff. Although it may seem like a silly metaphor, to all of us it was powerful imagery of the freedom we gain when we choose to follow Jesus – freedom from the worldly labels and approval-seeking. Our getting rid of the rocks represented the choice we made to get rid of the old in order to really live as new creations, as we find in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
Along with the spiritual growth, camp always comes with loads of fun and laughter, and this year did not disappoint. From wrestling for slippery watermelons on a slip-and-slide, to campfire worship, to endless games of ping pong, to eating sardines covered in ranch (I won’t go into too gruesome detail about that game), we all had a blast! We laughed, we danced, we cried, we sweat (lots), but most importantly, we experienced the presence of the Lord in a way perhaps like never before. Thank you all for your support and prayers!
Katelyn Sanders, High School Camp Counselor
Hey friends! What a week we had at camp. I LOVE camp and always look forward to participating each year. This year I served as a counselor at Senior High Camp. Counseling is one of the best roles at camp. It’s like being a forever camper! I had the privilege of counseling the young ladies from Friendswood. Some campers I have known for many years, and some I met as we loaded their luggage into the trailer. Our cabin of young women became a family that week, a very large family! 😉 These ladies encouraged, challenged, and loved each other well.
For those of us traveling from Friendswood, Texas to Camp Quaker Haven, the van ride is always a special time. Many jokes and stories come out of the 600ish mile stretch from Texas to Kansas. As we began our drive this year, I was reminded of my own experiences at CQH and was excited for what was in store for our campers! Here’s the thing about being a counselor aka forever camper, God is working through every single one of us and a camp experience is not just for the campers. I very much needed the reminders of truth from our camp speaker, Josiah Williams, just as much as my campers needed it, and just as much as all the other adults at camp probably needed it.
The theme this year of Becoming Who We Are was a difficult topic. I am currently transitioning out of a major life stage into another: college to adulthood. My conversations over the last few months have completely revolved around an identity associated with this new career of mine. This new career path does not define me and is not my true identity. There are so many labels that the world gives us, but those are usually defined by actions and not truly who we are. Josiah had four key points from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 as he talked about identity. God made us in his image. God is pursuing us. God has forgiven us. God has sent us. The last point that God has sent us is where I have been doing a lot of reflecting. As soon as I left the intentional space of CQH and stepped back into normal routines, my identity that Christ has given me was immediately challenged by the world. As an ambassador for Christ, I am worthy and I am valuable. I am uniquely made, I am never alone, I am made new, and I have been made whole. I have been commissioned as a peacemaker and am worthy of the calling of reconciliation. I can be Jesus with skin on in my home, in my school, and in my community. I pray that these truths of who I have been created to be, become more than just the narratives I know in my mind, but that I would know them deep in my heart. Our last session on identity closed with the following statement, “ *insert name here* no longer lives, but Christ lives through me. I am an ambassador of Christ.”
Katelyn no longer lives, but Christ lives through me. I am an ambassador of Christ.