Dear Mt. Gilead Staff,
You are greatly missed. At this point in the summer you would have already been here for a few weeks and just getting used to the full routine of camp. Instead, you’re at home, working other jobs, spending time with family, and making plans for the next months. This is the first summer we have not run regular camp since we were founded in 1953. We’re trying to get used to it too.
But even though our plans have changed, we don’t want you to forget about the spiritual and personal growth that happens here at Mt. Gilead Camp every summer. There’s something about spending concentrated time serving in a camp setting that naturally helps to create and develop habits for growth and ministry. But although you’re not here, you can still develop and continue these routines at home! Consider this your reminder to use this summer as an opportunity to minister in the places God already has you.
Here are 8 camp habits you can practice at home this summer that will help you continue in your walk with the Lord this summer and for the rest of your life.
Work hard. You know the feeling of exhaustion that comes after a week of camp? You’ve spent hours and hours working hard with a smile on your face, but there’s still a satisfaction that comes from knowing your tiredness is a result of meaningful ministry. You can still have that feeling this summer. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, decide to work at it with all your heart since you are working for the Lord and not for man. (Col 3:23)
Develop and deepen friendships. When you spend a summer ministering to other people, you develop deep friendships with those you are serving alongside. Even though our staff is not together this summer, you can still spend time deepening camp friendships with staff and campers. Write a letter or send a text telling someone what they mean to you and how much you miss them. Schedule a facetime call to reminisce on fun camp memories, and pray for each other before you say goodbye. Remember that God uses people in your life to help you grow closer to him (Prov 27:17). Spend time this summer investing in those relationships that push you closer to Christ.
Spend time in the word. During camp you have time scheduled into your week to be reading the Bible. Whether it’s preparing for Bible-X, listening to devotionals and campfire messages, or refueling yourself with the word in the midst of a hard day, it’s natural to spend time communicating with the Lord. However, when you’re home it’s usually not as easy or as natural; you have to be intentional with Bible reading and prayer or it will never happen. Time spent reading and responding to the word is key to spiritual growth, so schedule it into your day and ask someone to keep you accountable.
Filter the outside influences. Mt. Gilead is often described as a bubble – a wonderful safe haven from outside influences or distracting voices from the media. In fact, serving without distractions is what makes it so much easier to grow in your relationship with the Lord at camp. We know it’s impossible (and unhealthy) to live in an isolated bubble at home, but it is possible to censor the outside voices that come in. You don’t have to listen to secular music every time you jam out. You can put the phone down and spend time with the Lord rather than scrolling through social media for hours. When you purposefully spend time thinking about worthwhile things (Philippians 4:8), it will be so much more natural to spend time with the Lord and involve him in your decisions. It takes work, but it’s worth it.
Serve those around you. At camp, you are paid to serve. We encourage you to minister with a smile on your face when you cook meals, clean toilets, clean the stalls, lead bible studies, or do any other job that you happen to be doing. At all times you are giving of yourself for the benefit of campers. At home, it’s very natural to spend the day thinking about yourself and your own wants. This summer, schedule time to intentionally use your resources to serve others. It can be something simple like doing the dishes when no one asks, or babysitting for free one night. The important part is that you think of others as more important than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)
Ask for discipleship. At Mt. Gilead, people are put in place around you to pour into your life as you are pouring into the lives of campers and staff around you. This is a biblical model! If you don’t have a mentor at home, this is the time to get one. Don’t forfeit a summer of discipleship. Ask someone older and wiser than you, whom you respect at a spiritual level, to mentor and disciple you. Remember that God loves to use people for his work – including the work of drawing you closer to himself
Share the gospel. Sharing the gospel is the heartbeat of camp, and you are the heart that pumps blood throughout the body of our ministry. Camp being canceled doesn’t change that mission. We want to affect everyone around us with the love of Christ. Challenge yourself to share the gospel with just one person this summer. Maybe this is God’s way of opening a door into conversations with coworkers that you never would have had if you were at camp. Remind yourself that God is in control and he uses every situation, good or bad, for his glory.
Be silly without worrying about what others think of you. We do some crazy things here at Mt. Gilead that are just FUN! Have you ever noticed how unusual it is for you to fully engage in silly activities when you are worried about what others think of you? It’s much easier here because everyone else looks just as silly as you! So gather a group of friends and plan a fun camp activity, or do a Mt. Gilead @Home tutorial together. Bring out that zany piece of your personality that comes out at camp!
This summer may not be going the way you originally planned, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted summer. Wherever God has placed you this summer, be the same woman you know how to be at camp.
You are loved and missed!