Week one of Wildheart is the time where all the campers are getting dropped off and the counselors are starting to get our feet wet as to what camp is actually like. The rush of learning all the camper’s names and finding out a bit about them while they are trying to learn a crashing river of information is absolutely crazy! After the first day, which is the campers getting used to the rules and finding out exactly what they are going to be doing, we rush out to the campsites and start the week of base camp. I got to get to know my campers a bit more and see their strengths and weaknesses, which is really helpful to try and build the team as not only a team and a unit, but also to see how I can help them as individuals. Throughout the week, the campers get to learn a variety of skills such as learning knots, building fires, how to campcraft items from tripods to tables, using a compass and map, and getting used to cooking over a campfire. This first week is also filled with fun activities like an obstacle course, games, some free time, and competition with the other team. The high point of the week, though, is the chapel and getting to have time to impact the campers in a spiritual way. Conversing with them and seeking to make a spiritual impact can be both exciting and also gave me a chance to see where they stood spiritually. This week is crazy and gave me a chance to learn how to teach campers and help them grow in outdoors skills and seek to impact their lives spiritually and physically.
First week down, and it feels like it just began. Getting to know these guys is absolutely amazing! Each one is so different, yet there is an enjoyable unity among the team. So far we are having a great time as a team! Basic week is over, and many skills have been learned. Woodcarving, blade safety, canoeing, mountain biking, and many others are among the skills and camp-crafts that we have dabbled in. Two more weeks to go. It will definitely be interesting learning with and about them as the next week flies by.
If you are like me, you grew up going to a different summer camp every year. I have attended and worked for camps in five different states, and every one of them offers their own unique experience. But there is no place quite like WildHeart Adventure Camp. “How so?”, you might ask. Well, for starters, at WildHeart Adventure Camp, we actually camp! We don’t sleep in bunk beds inside of air-conditioned “cabins” with a bathhouse and running water just a few feet away. We sleep in tents, cook our own food over a campfire, and don’t always smell as nicely as we would like to. But roughin’ it in the wild is a great way to learn responsibility, self-sufficiency, and appreciate the beauty and complexity of God’s creation. With the one-week down, the campers and counselors alike have been challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually. No doubt once we finish all three weeks of the unique WildHeart experience, we’ll be different people than we were before.
Week 1 was a week of preparation and training. The campers had a chance to learn fire-building, leathercraft, wood-cutting, and knot-tying – skills which came in handy when it came to improving the campsites. The campers are split up into two teams: Brown, and Green. The Brown Team used their training in camp-craft to build a tripod to hold their water cooler, a table to serve as a dish-washing station, and even a fence at the front of their campsite! In addition to camp-craft, we received training in canoeing and learned how to paddle the canoe properly as well as how to get back in your canoe, if it capsizes.
The week was also filled with fun activities like biking, swimming, shooting, and hiking. The teams competed against each other in an obstacle course challenge and an orienteering challenge in which the teams had to find a number or marked checkpoints in the woods using a compass. We finished the week with a weekend trip to Marquette, Michigan, where we rode some mountain bike trails and rappelled down a cliff.
Although it is great to learn these outdoor skills, the most important part of WildHeart is our spiritual focus. Each morning the teams meet together for devotions, in which the campers meditate on a verse. We also have a chapel each evening, in which we sing songs and listen to a message. This week, the focus of chapels was on worldviews, and the campers were shown how the Christian worldview is superior to all others.
The spiritual apathy of some campers has left the counselors frustrated and tired, but I am encouraged when I remember Isaiah 55:10-11.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Though it may seem that our work is falling on deaf ears, we know that our toil is not in vain. Please join us in praying for the souls of these hardened teenagers. Pray that the Spirit would break their hearts and that God would open their eyes to the truth of the gospel. Pray also for the strength of the counselors that we would be patient and loving when we are tired and stressed. Although sometimes hearts are slow to respond to the Word, we are excited to see how God will work in week 2!
This week we found out our teams and learned camping basics. Things like fire building, knife safety, orienteering just to name a few. We also did the obstacle course as a team. At camp we built a tripod, a table, and a fence (which is still standing). The chapel theme was "head". We discussed worldview, how one views the world. More specifically we talked about our worldview and if it stands on good authority.
In the first week of WildHeart Adventure Camp, the campers received training in the arts of camping. This training includes (but is not limited to): fire building, blade safety, knots, lashing, tent pitching, and many other skills. Throughout the week, many campers absorbed this information like a sponge and were able to use those skills on a daily basis. The campers were also introduced to various activities and challenges such as the obstacle course and the team pyramid challenge. These activities and many others helped to build up the team, but also helped the individual campers grow. Chapel and devotions were also performed daily in order to accomplish the primary goal of WildHeart Adventure Camp: spiritual growth.
Drew grew up in a ministry family. His early years he spent in a tiny camp in Ohio, and in 2012 his family moved to Victory. His dad still faithfully serves as part of the staff. During the first year of adventure camp, six years ago, Drew was a camper and loved it! Drew has been in many camps and has always understood the value of camp ministry. That is why he decided to join the Venture internship program and take part of the ministry that is going on at Victory. Drew loves the Lord and knows that this year will be a “challenging and profitable experience that is full of personal growth.” Drew has completed one year of his undergraduate in Biblical counseling at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown Wisconsin. Drew hopes to be a positive impact on your sons and come along side them and lift them towards Jesus Christ. He says “Jesus means the world to me! There is no telling where I would be without Him in my life. He has changed me and I am so grateful and I strive to be closer and more impressed with his awesomeness every day!”
Roland was saved at the age of 8, but he didn't understand that it was more than a "get out of hell free card" until he was given the opportunity in 11th grade to teach a youth class. His desire to counsel started in around the same time. After his first year of college at Bob Jones University, he decided to officially pursue a counseling degree. He is now a junior and looks forward to how God might use him. He has no previous counseling or official camping experience, but he is excited to draw upon the experience of growing up in the woods.
Russell Massey grew up in Amberg, WI at Victory Academy for boys. He spent his early years running through the woods and playing in mud puddles in the classic little boy manner. This gave him a deep seated appreciation for the beauty of our planet and its nature. As he grew up, he began to gain an interest in more structured activities. These include hunting, fishing, shooting, snowboarding, mountain climbing, and hiking. This summer, he looks forward to using all of these hobbies to further the gospel through WildHeart Adventure Camp. He also looks forward to working together with this excellent group of guys, that makes up the counselor team at Adventure Camp, to make camp a fun and profitable experience for all parties involved.
Stephen has been going to Maranatha Baptist University for 2 and ½ years as a Pastoral Studies major with a minor in Business Management. He joined the Air Force through the Air National Guard base in Milwaukee a bit over two years ago. This has given him some unique opportunities, such as having to sit out from college for a little over a year because he was stationed in San Antonio, Texas. After college and my time in the military, he desired to be a preacher of a church in the states or abroad. This is his first time being a counselor at a Christian camp, but he has gained leadership experience through the military. He grew up camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, and hunting with his grandpa. These have been major activities of his life growing up and are areas that he loves. He also grew up attending Christian camps, and they have shaped his life and goals in many ways. He views this as a fantastic way to give back to God and looks forward to camp this summer!
Camp ministry has had a great impact on Dan in his own discipleship experience and in his years as a youth pastor. His early experiences as a camper confronted some of the spiritual lethargy in his life as a teen and motivated him to yield his life to service to teens and adults. As a youth pastor, camp ministry was an essential discipleship tool for ministering to the hearts of teens. Dan believes that this “confrontation with truth” is especially important for young men as the distractions of this world system are so very real. It is exciting to work together as a ministry team in exhorting our campers to “act like men”, godly men. (Acts 16:13-14)
As we pursue blending a passion for adventure with a passion for God, Dan gives direction to our discipleship program. Dan plans the preaching and devotional ministry of camp and trains and leads our counselor team. Truth is boldly declared, lived out by grace, and embraced in the context of loving relationships, relationships that are developed in the experiences of daily adventure. Dan is the king of the pyramid challenge, weekend camp cookouts, and the ping pong table.