“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9.

In the brisk, rejuvenating air of Minnesota’s spring, a season of both personal and professional transformation unfolded for me. As the youth director of North Star Camp, the onset of our staffing season coincided with a pivotal moment in my life – the birth of our daughter, Davina. This beautiful personal milestone, however, brought an unforeseen challenge: I was on maternity leave during the critical period of hiring staff for the camp.

With only three of the necessary 37 staff positions filled, I remember feeling a mix of vulnerability and trust. It was a test of faith, releasing control and entrusting the camp’s future into God’s hands. Little did I know, this act of faith would unfold into a series of events that perfectly embodied Isaiah’s words.

God’s mysterious ways began to reveal themselves through unexpected connections. Karter, a previous staff member, had become an ambassador of North Star’s spirit in Puerto Rico. His experience at camp ignited a passion so intense that it led him to invite five friends to join our mission. This diverse group brought a fresh perspective and new energy to the camp. Abdiel and Nelson were amazing counselors who connected so well with their cabins. Suleny’s creativity in the art department sparked imagination and joy. Paola, our skillful boat driver, navigated not just the waters but also meaningful conversations with campers. And Laura, with her adaptability, was a beacon of support in various activities.

Another serendipitous story unfolded with Sarah from Minnesota, who discovered North Star Camp through a newfound friend, Lola, at a conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Sarah’s arrival at the camp brought a new dimension to our horse program. Her innate ability to connect with both horses and campers encouraged many to overcome their fears and experience the joy of horseback riding. Her gentle guidance and patience exemplified the spirit of care and nurturing that we aspire to instill in all our activities.

Moises’ journey to North Star was a testament to the power of community and generosity. His desire to serve was hindered by financial constraints, but a compassionate gesture from a church member ensured his participation – not as a staff member, but as a fully-funded volunteer serving in the role of mentoring the various class directors. This act of kindness not only allowed Moises to join us but also reinforced the community’s collective commitment to nurturing young leaders.

These stories weren’t mere coincidences; they were divine orchestrations. Each individual’s journey to North Star Camp was a thread in a larger tapestry, woven by a higher power. As the camp season progressed, the evidence of God’s handiwork was undeniable. Our campers arrived, each carrying their unique stories and struggles. The camp became a melting pot of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives, united by a shared quest for spiritual growth and connection. Our diverse staff was able to meet the needs of our campers in new and interesting ways, using their own backstories for those experiences.

The camp’s activities, from canoeing on the serene lake to exploring creativity in the art department, were avenues for both fun and profound life lessons. The laughter and chatter that filled the dining hall, the reflective silences during worship sessions, and the bonds formed over campfires under the starlit sky – each moment was imbued with a sense of purpose and divinity.


One Sabbath afternoon, during a question and answer period, a camper who had been struggling with feelings of self doubt and unworthiness had an epiphany. In a crystalizing moment, as staffer David shared that God meets each person on their individual journeys, and how the Bible tells the story of a loving God, this camper began weeping. He realized that God loved him, no matter his story, and he would always have a place in God’s kingdom and heart. He chose to give his life to Jesus and shared his testimony with the other campers. 

God built the staff for moments like this. As I witnessed the many interactions throughout the summer, it was clear that God doesn’t need us, but He chooses each one of us to serve Him. I’m so excited to be a part of this ministry and mission where God is changing lives.

This past summer, God moved in a mighty way, with 132 campers at North Star starting a relationship with Jesus, 111 recommitting to Jesus, 99 requesting prayers and Bible studies, and 102 requesting baptism. With a total of 392 campers, it’s amazing to see how God impacted each life in such a profound way.

Reflecting on this journey, I am reminded of the beauty and mystery of God’s plans. As we prepare for another season at North Star Camp, we do so with hearts full of anticipation and eyes open to the wonders that await. The experiences of the past year have taught us to embrace the unexpected and to find joy in the journey of faith.

Camp ministry is a combination of both teaching and discipling campers, and also teaching and discipling staff. I know that I learned so much this summer about God’s grace and faithfulness, and every summer staff experience some of their most significant life changes from serving in camp ministries. As we begin the search for the 2024 camp season, almost 50 percent of our staff from last summer are planning to return to North Star this year. This is despite graduations, applying for internships and “real careers.” We are thrilled to see how God is using camp ministry to grow everyone involved in the ministry.

God’s ways, indeed higher than ours, are manifested in the smiles of our campers, the dedication of our staff, and the community that we build together. As we look to the future, we hold onto the promise that in every challenge, every uncertainty, and every new beginning, God is there, guiding us, surprising us, and blessing us in ways we could never imagine.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in working or attending summer camp, please refer them to northstarcamp.org or to any of the camps listed on the previous page.

Shalina Bonjour is the youth director for the Minnesota Conference and director of North Star Camp in Brainerd, Minnesota.