On Tuesday, we started off our morning with a skills session on firebuilding. We asked the campers to go into the woods and find what they thought would be good to use to start a fire. This material is called "tinder." They each got to take their match and see how flammable their tinder was. It's important to choose the right kind of material in order to create sustainable heat to ignite the kindling.
We offer a lot of activities and structured instruction of outdoor skills, but it is important that we also include ample time to just relax and have fun around our campsites. These guys work hard, and they deserve some down-time!
Our main activity on Tuesday was paintball. Two of our counselors joined our forces before camp started and helped us with campsite and ground improvements. One of their tasks was redesigning the paintball course. The new layout offered us some great new options of gameplay. The campers had a blast creeping around in the ferns and sneaking up on the other team! You can always count on leaving the paintball course with three things: great memories, bruises, and wood ticks. Yes, part of team building is to help do a "tick check" after time in the woods.
We spent several hours on Wednesday on the Menominee River. We are blessed to have a beautiful river just a few miles away from our property! The campers were instructed in some basic canoe strokes and maneuvering. After paddling down the river, we parked at one of the islands and enjoyed a sack lunch and the rope swing!
Here we go! On Sunday, we began our two-week adventure with these ten young men. We threw a challenge at them right away by taking them out to our obstacle course. When they arrive, they are not yet placed in a team. Part of our orientation process is to see how they interact with one another in a competitive setting. We are looking for their strengths and weaknesses in leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, ingenuity, and other areas. Getting a brief glance at these things helps us separate our campers into two teams. So far, the teams are staying close in their competition and are displaying excellent team spirit!
Every morning, we start our day with a flag-raising. This is a time that we use to teach patriotism, respectful handling of our flag, and to give thanks for the freedoms that God has given us as a nation. After flag-raising, we have a skill session that purposes to teach and hone important outdoor skills. On Monday, Mark Hawkins from Hands on Deck joined us to teach blade handling, basic carving, and woodworking designed to improve life at a campsite.
Dan Raught closed out our first day with a biblical discussion on worldviews. He compared a worldview with a pair of glasses - it modifies our sight and offers a differing perspective of the world around us. This week, we will be encouraging our campers to consider the worldview with which they are currently believing. The truth is, ideas have consequences. Good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. So, what kind of thoughts dominate our lives? Biblically speaking, we will either be a captor or a captive.
Wow!! What a way to wrap up WildHeart. To finish, we have a 5 day canoe trip that takes place on the beautiful Flambeau River. It is absolutely breathtaking to see the fantastic sites and views, enjoy the campsites, and most importantly take our last chance to impact the campers. The days all have multiple hours of canoeing and this is a great time to take in the fantastic sites while talking to the camper that is in your canoe. This opportunity is great to get to know the camper and to really create a bond with them. Relationship growth with the campers is just so essential for impacting their lives in a spiritual way. In the mid to late afternoon we would arrive at the campsite for the night and get to set up tents, get dinner ready, have fun time, and go to chapel before lights out. Chapel was powerful and talked about influence and being a leader in your life, and these challenges brought about questions to the campers to help it apply it to their personal lives. One thing that the trip cannot go without mentioning is rapids! Though many of the rapids we faced were small, they brought about a challenge and level of fun to the campers while we were out on the river. It really was awesome to challenge ourselves in that manner. After the canoe trip was over, we had to head back to Amberg, WI and the campers got to meet up with their dads. It was great to get to know the dads behind the campers and develop relationships with them as well. This opportunity was fantastic and great to see the dads interact with their sons. That wraps up camp though.... And if I had to say one thing about it.... Worth it, every last minute. Even though there were times of stress and it was very busy, the opportunity to work with the great staff here to impact lives of others who are having struggles with the relationships in their lives is so worth it. Well, this is my final entry and thanks for reading. To God be the glory.
We went canoeing. After the second day my legs were sunburnt, only on the inside, from lack of variation in leg placement. Along the trip we, my canoe buddy and I, got to bond over a shared fascination in Disney. We had an opportunity on our last afternoon to go through the rapids, that we will start the next day with, a few times. On the last day of canoeing we went over/through the biggest rapid of the trip. My boat did not flip but did take on a lot of water. Friday we did activities with the guys and their dads. I was in charge of loading and throwing skeet. Later we went white water rafting. This week the chapels focused on "hands". Everyone is a leader because everyone has influence to some degree. The question then becomes are you going to lead the correct way, the scriptural way.
Going into the summer I believed that I was more than equipped to take on the task before me. I thought “How hard could being a counselor be? I’m just watching a handful of guys in the wilderness; and it’s not like they are going to run away. WHERE would they go?!” 3 weeks, and many experiences later I realized that my expectations were shaky at best. I have learned so much about leadership, faithfulness, and trust this summer. God is truly amazing in His grace, and looking back, my only hope is that the campers learned half as much as I did. God grew me more than I could have imagined, and I know that He used me for good despite my blindness and pride. I am so thankful that I got to work with my campers, Karson, Zack, Ethan, Nathanael, Ford, and my co-counselor Roland. We had fun times, and we had frustrating times, but throughout it all, we grew. I had a great time! And I would not have missed it for the world.
Week three of WildHeart came with new activities and challenges. We embarked on Sunday on our week long canoe trip. The second we stepped out of the vans to unload by the river, swarms of mosquitoes attacked us like the fresh meat we were. Throughout the week the mosquitoes abated and we learned how to deal with them(albeit not without a fresh dose of complaints every morning.). During the second to last day, we had the opportunity to ride some class 2 rapids in our canoes and body-surf them afterwords. This was an exciting and enjoyable experience. It was this day that I had a peak in my counselor career. One of my campers was in a canoe that flipped while going down the rapids. That camper found his way to an island in the middle of the rapids. With white water break on either side of him, he refused to jump in and float down to us. In the end, I ended up swimming to the island and talking to the camper. It became abundantly clear that he was not going to jump no matter what anyone said to him. I told him that I was going to push him in. He shook his head no, but in the end I had to push him. He went screaming and flailing down the rapids. I jumped in after him laughing my head off. That particular camper ended up thanking me later for getting him through the situation.
Towards the end of the week, we returned home from the canoe trip. Although we faced some vehicle trouble along the way, we made it back in one piece to enjoy the evening with some long awaited reunions between father and son. The last few days of camp was spent in the father son structure, enjoying activities ranging from games, to white water rafting, shooting, and many other enjoyable activities. Through all of these activities were chapels and services that helped the campers and myself to stay focused on spiritual things. Specifically about restoration in the relationships around us. As camp wound down to a close, many bro hugs were given and many tears held back. But through it all I was able to enjoy seeing the progress made by guys that I thought I would never be able to get through to.
Thank you for a great summer, WildHeart.
It’s hard to believe that the third week of WildHeart Adventure Camp is done and that camp is already over. During our final week of camp, we took the guys on a 5-day, 30+ mile canoe trip down the Flambeau River in central Wisconsin. Compared to backpacking, the canoe trip was less strenuous, but also required the patience and discipline to paddle the canoe properly so as not to tire out your arms. We enjoyed swimming in the river when we got the chance, and also got to canoe down several rapids ranging from class 1 to 3! When we returned from the canoe trip on Thursday night, the campers were greeted by their fathers and they spent the weekend doing activities together including skeet shooting, archery, and firing .22 caliber rifles. Pastor Mark ended the week with a challenge focused on helping the campers and their fathers deal with sin and hurt in their lives through the power of Christ instead of coping with their own power.
In spite of the fun we had canoeing and fellowshipping with the fathers, week three was a difficult week in a number of ways. There were no dramatic conversions or evident movements of the Spirit. From a pragmatic standpoint, it would seem that we failed our mission as counselors. But although we did not see the planted seed take root, we are encouraged by the truth that God’s Word does not go out void; it always accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent. Even if they did not accept God’s gift of salvation yet, they saw His love in our lives, and who knows what God will do with the seeds we have planted?
Although camp is now over, please continue to pray for these campers, that God would continue to confront them with the liberating truth of the gospel. We are excited that two of the campers will be returning to our program in August to attend Victory Academy for Boys. Pray that God would prepare them for their time here during the school year and that he would break their hearts of stone. We have planted, others will water, and God, if he will, will give the increase.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” and Week 2 flew by like a jet! After taking the weekend to refresh ourselves from a week of camping, we packed our bags and began a four-day long backpacking trip along the Southern Shore of Lake Superior. We started our trip near Munising, Michigan, and trekked nearly 30 miles northeast along the North Country Trail. Our average day consisted of a hike of between 4 to 6 miles while carrying a 30 lb. pack full of food, tents, personal clothes, and other camping gear. We only had room in our packs for the bare necessities, and the only necessity we didn’t carry was water, which we filtered from the lake or streams we came across. At times, it was difficult to carry so much weight on our backs, but the beauty of Lake Superior, the beaches, the cliffs, and the forest was well worth the exertion. The awe-inspiring cliffs and the beautiful blue-green water were captivating to look at, and we were thrilled to watch a glorious sunset over the water on more than one occasion.
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, and it is so deep that the water never reaches a warm temperature, even in the summer. But the cold water didn’t stop us from enjoying swimming, even if it felt more like an ice-bath at times than a trip to the Atlantic.
We were blessed to be accompanied by Aaron Brewster, who led chapel in the evenings at our campsites and challenged the campers to examine their beliefs and deepest motivations of their hearts. He explained what it means to believe in God, and that real belief demands action in response, and that when our lives manifest “bad fruit,” it is because we the truth about God and who he is. It was a message most of the campers dearly needed to hear, but unfortunately was not valued as it should have been by them.
When people are put under pressure or into difficult situations, they reveal the true contents of their hearts. As campers grew tired from hiking with heavy packs and dealing with each other, I had the joy of getting some time with a few of the campers 1 on 1. I was encouraged to hear testimonies of salvation from some, and to clearly explain the gospel to others. Please continue to pray for these campers, that Got would open up their eyes to their need for him, and that the Word would not be snatched away from their hearts, but that it would take root in their lives and bring forth fruit. Additionally, please continue to pray for the counselors. As we enter the third and final week, we need now more than ever to be focused on loving the campers and sharing God’s truth with them even when we are tired and frustrated. Although some of them are not open to the truth, we are excited to see how God will work in them during the canoe trip next week, as well as to see how God will work in the lives of those campers who are open to his Word.
One week down already!! Time flies and here we are getting ready to leave on a backpacking trip up along Lake Superior. The campers have learned their camp skills and it is time to put them to the test. The days of hiking are sometimes long and the campers push through some of the discomforts of long distances, but get to see great sites, have fun conversations, and learn from God's word. The first day is not a long hike and I got to enjoy a fire with the campers and talk to them after the chapel message. As we push forward, we see the breath taking sites along the Pictured Rocks and get to admire the beauty of God's creation. The trail is a great time to see the endurance of the campers and also presents another opportunity to talk to them and impact them spiritually. One of the times that was the most enjoyable for the group was swimming on the lake, and the enjoyment from them was very evident. The time I enjoyed the most was the messages that ultimately touched on belief. These challenges around the campfire provoked thought and allowed the campers to ask us questions to help them spiritually. Getting time to get even further in a counselling relationship with the campers was fantastic. The tired campers finally made it out after hiking over 25 miles and enjoyed a fun ride back to WildHeart. Now to get ready for the canoe trip!!
Week two was much different than week one. Week two started with a road trip up to Munising, Michigan as the first leg in our hiking trip. Through week two, the campers not only got a chance to use the skills and training from week one, but also had the opportunity to show their strength and resilience throughout the 27 miles of hiking. That is not to say there was no complaining, but when all was said and done, everyone made it to the takeout point and the trip was complete. For spiritual impact during the second week, Aaron Brewster provided thought provoking chapel services daily. Though everyone on the trip of week two was stretched and pushed, many came out the other side stronger physically, and spiritually.