Written by Mike Gordon
The Fall months can be a very difficult season for people who have spent their entire summers serving as a camp leader in a Christian environment.
Many camp leaders may identify with Namaan, the commander of Aram’s army who leaves home for Israel in search of healing for his leprosy. While away from home, he has an experience with God which brings him to the conclusion that the God of Israel is the God of the whole world; however, he is then faced with the challenge of knowing he has to return home. Namaan says, “when my master enters the temple of Rimmon [Aram’s god] to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow down there also”. Here, Namaan recognizes that it’s going to become a lot more challenging to live for God upon returning to his community that doesn’t live for the same God in the same way. Once home, he is going to be expected to go with the flow of the culture that he is surrounded by. You may face similar challenges when you’re back home, which may cause you to feel that same withdrawal.
3 Ways to Combat Withdrawal
Transitioning from a camp community to your school or work environment will feel challenging, as you may think that back home, you will never find that same connection you had during the summer. Despite how you might feel, there are many Christian communities outside of camp, such as churches, youth groups, home groups, and campus ministries—please do not buy into the mindset that you only get that at camp. From your camp experience, hopefully, you can truly understand how vital it is to be a part of a Christian community when you are back home. I scratch my head sometimes when I hear people say they can “do church” on their own, or when they put little effort into finding a Christian community once they leave camp after seeing how valuable that community has been for them! Camp reminds us of how important it is to have Christian friends and influences in our lives—it clearly helps strengthens our walk with Christ. Believe it or not, there are Christian communities outside of camp, you just have to find them.
One of the perks of working at a camp is having a fancy job title which confirms that you are a leader. However, once camp is over, you no longer have that title, and when you go back home, you may feel that you are no longer a leader and have little to offer. Simply losing a title can allow you to lose a little bit of confidence in yourself. Here’s the thing: you are not a leader because you had a title, you had a title because you are a leader. You didn’t have a title when you first got hired, you simply had leadership qualities, which is why they hired you. As you return home, you may not have that same title anymore, but you still have those leadership qualities which are even more developed than they were before. You are a leader, even in the halls of your school or office, so don’t stop being a leader just because you no longer have a name tag and walkie-talkie.
Naturally, when we return home, we feel that we’ll become so busy that we will no longer have the same time we did at camp to focus on God. In reality, you were most likely extremely busy at camp and didn’t just do Bible study for 18 hours a day. From prepping, eating, cleaning, social life, games, conversations and everything else in between, it wasn’t “Godly” because you did it under the camp umbrella, it was Godly because you had the mindset that it was all for the glory of God! Why can’t you continue to do that in everything you do when you are back home? From school, studying, social life, work, relationships, sports, and everything else—isn’t it possible to keep the same mentality that everything we do is for Him?
Naaman’s concern going back home is answered simply with Elisha’s response, “Go in peace”, or Shalom. This isn’t the peace that comes because life is easy, it’s the peace that comes with knowing that, despite what challenges may come, God is with you every step of the way. So go in peace, and know God is moving. He isn’t limited to just camp season, and neither are we.
Mike Gordon | Youth for Christ Canada www.mike-gordon.ca