Two years ago the first words I heard were, “I can bust that camera!” I tightened my grip on my camera bag.
As I joined the kids about to leave for camp this year, the same boy greeted me with, “I go to church now. And I go to a youth group!”
In the two years since that previous camp, Steve had grown about two feet. More importantly, he had grown spiritually as well. He knew I’d be pleased to hear about his church involvement.
The majority of the kids at our camp at Salmon Inlet were not so inclined. As camp speaker I felt the awesome weight of the responsibility of explaining the Good News of God’s great love for us demonstrated through His Son. But I was also expectant. I had seen lives changed at camp two years ago and was confident God could do it again.
As we drove to the bay where we would catch the boat to camp, I became acquainted with a quiet boy named Dan. He seemed quite shy, but it wasn’t until the week was over that I heard how shy he was.
A year ago, Dan basically stayed in his room at home. No friends or outside activities. Then came a phone call from a guy named Barry (YFC staff). He told Dan of a Youth Guidance club at his school.
At first there was no way he would budge. Then one day he showed up at club. He didn’t mix well with the other kids. He was clumsy at floor hockey. He didn’t seem to be enjoying himself, and Barry didn’t expect to see him back.
Dan not only returned to club, but actually accepted Barry’s invitation to come to camp at Salmon Inlet. Dan’s mother was ecstatic.
Dan took a liking to me and started to follow me around camp like a puppy. Even when it was my turn to wash dishes, Dan was there. One day I asked him if he’d like to go canoeing. He agreed. He was a bit nervous, but loved it!
On our last evening at camp Dan asked if I’d like to go canoeing again. It was skit night, and as we glided over the shimmering surface of Salmon Inlet, I asked Dan if he’d like to do a skit with me. He nervously declined.
As we paddled, I mentioned a few ideas anyway, and told him to think about it. A half hour later he suddenly blurted out, “I think we should do it!”
And so it came about that shy, timid Dan stood before the rest of the campers and staff and actually made them laugh on skit night.
I will never forget the look on Dan’s face as he rode that wave of emotion that night. His confidence had taken a quantum leap.
There is something else about Dan that is fixed in my memory—the sight of his raised hand the next morning indicating that he had prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Saviour!
Eight others chose to follow Christ that week at Salmon Inlet. While it thrills my heart, it also fills me with a longing to see them grow in their relationship with Christ when they are away from camp.
Fortunately our staff are there to provide follow-through care.
(I have many fond memories from my 27 years with Youth for Christ. It is a privilege to share some of these with you.
I wrote this piece in the summer of 1994.)