Summer Camp at Broken Arrow Ranch for the summer 2023 is now a sweet memory for campers of all ages as well as the pastors, nurses and summer staff who served this year. There were first- time campers who weren’t sure about leaving their families behind but now know they can somehow survive and have fun without them, at least for one week a year. There were campers who expressed their eagerness to hurry up and grow up so they can join the staff and stay at the camp all summer as soon as possible. There were first-time staff who said they definitely want to come back next summer and staff that tearfully said goodbye for now to the camp that has been their summer home for years as they move into their full-time careers.
From the art room to the water front, campers and staff learned new skills. They faced challenges and overcame them–from downhill mountain biking to keeping a cabin clean with a bunch of roommates. They sang silly songs and played hilarious games together with crazy grins on their faces and moments later they belted out sacred songs in worship to God and prayed for Him to move powerfully in the lives of their friends and their families. They listened to God’s Word that is not only alive in the mouths of the speaker but in their lives as well, and I know the life-changing reality of Jesus was contagious among us because at least 71 campers gave their lives to Jesus for the first time, 72 recommitted their lives to Him and 65 decided to pursue baptismal studies.
One of my favorite memories was when a staff member shared their personal experience of how God and their mental health counselor helped them through a particularly dark and dangerous time in their life. Over a journey of years their life has been so changed and healed that they are truly an inspiration. Their story sparked a vulnerable conversation where teens shared their personal experiences with mental and spiritual health and their best practices for a living holistically healthy lives.
It is truly incredible what God can do in and through His people, specifically the younger people among His people, to touch the hearts of others. Only eight of our summer staff were over 21 years old. I truly hope each one finds a place to serve just as meaningfully back at home.
What good memories will those who were with us at Broken Arrow Ranch for the summer of 2023 carry with them as they move into their futures? For each one it will surely be different but I am confident of this; if you find them and ask them, they will have something beyond sweet to share and they will remember that Jesus was there.