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.
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!
Tim graduated from Maranatha Baptist Univerity in 2017 with his bachelor’s degree in Missions, and he is currently earning credits toward his Master of Divinity at Bob Jones University. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Tim’s desire to practically apply his education led him to intern with Victory Academy for Boys and, subsequently, to work as a counselor for WildHeart. Tim has also served as a camp counselor at the Wilds in North Carolina and Camp Raphayada, a camp for missionary kids and English students in Japan. Tim is looking forward to experiencing the beauty of God’s creation and seeing how God works in hearts this summer with Wildheart.