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August/September 2008 Clay Meyer

W
elcome back to the real world, kid. It’s a far cry from the experience you just had, feeling so close to God and all. But now, you need to start thinking about—check that—start worrying about “more important” things:

•School starts in a few weeks. Do you know what classes you are taking? Have you got all of your school supplies and new clothes?

•Sports practices are going to be starting up soon, too. Have you been training this summer to be ready for the season?

•Some of your friends supposedly had one of the best parties ever while you were gone. What did you miss?

•Now that you’re back at home, can you start mowing the lawn and emptying the dishwasher again?

•And, oh yeah, how was camp? Did you play any games?

Raise your hand if you heard any of the above after you got back from FCA Camp.

It seems like just days ago that your life was completely focused on Jesus Christ. You flourished among the amazing testimonies, Bible studies, quiet times with the Lord, fun competitions and the many Christian friends who cared about you and your spiritual growth.
 
Now the world is slamming itself in your face. Nobody seems to care that you were just on the mountain top with God. Mentally, you were so far away from worldly things that you forgot they even existed. And now you have a choice—an interesting, challenging and potentially life-altering choice:

A. You can slide back into the popularity-driven, pop-culture idolizing lifestyle. You can chase after what the celebrities on television are pursuing. You can get on the Internet every five minutes to check your Facebook and catch up on the latest gossip. Really, nobody but your God will mind if you pick right back up where you left off. Not much changed for the rest of the world since you were away. And you shouldn’t feel like you need to change either, right?

OR…

B. You can allow your life to be radically altered by that one week-long experience. You can take what you learned at camp and let the seeds that were sown begin to bear fruit in your life. You can make positive changes and be forever closer to the One who gives you the life that is full of everything you really need—the life that will bring you more joy than even the most amazing party you could ever imagine.

You really do have the choice. Maybe you should ask the Lord which one He recommends.

 *****

Do you remember the first time you went to camp? You probably felt a bit of anxiety leading into it, even on the trip there. 
 
“What is it going to be like? Will I get along with my roommate? Is the whole thing even worth it?”

Emily Ladymon, a junior at Clarkton High School in Clarkton, Mo., remembered the feelings of not knowing what to expect when she headed for Mid-Missouri Leadership Camp.

“We were asking other kids what happens at camp: Is it scary or fun?” she recalled. “My friends and I made ourselves sick the first two weeks before camp because we hated that we had to room with girls we didn’t know and because we knew we wouldn’t get to see each other that much.”

Despite all the well-wishes that parents or friends offer before the trip, for most campers, the worries still come. But you fight your way through them either with prayer or by occupying your mind with something else until the trip is over and you are finally at camp. That’s when the real experience begins. The world slips away, and you are immersed in the love of Jesus Christ.

“It was all pretty amazing,” said KaeLeigh Brown, a junior at Marshall High School in Marshall, Mo., who attended the same camp as Emily. “After the games, we would all gather in one room. It was great to share the experiences and faith.”

Post-Camp Tips for Campers

Honesty is the Best Policy
Don’t lose the transparency and openness you established with your Huddle Leaders and fellow campers. If you created a bond of trust, keep it alive!

Get the Digits
If you didn’t get the contact information of someone in your Huddle before you left camp, see if your Huddle Leader or another camper can help you out.

Home is Where the Heart Is
Establish a spiritual atmosphere at home through prayer, reading the Bible and doing devotionals. Sign up for FCA’s daily “Impact Play” e-mail devotion online at fca.org.

Don’t Be Ashamed
During the first weeks of school, when telling your friends what you did this summer, don’t be afraid. Give them the camp details and share what Jesus did in your life!

“Huddle [insert your number here] rocked!”
Create Facebook groups to stay connected with your Huddle Leaders and fellow campers.

Get Focused: Version 2.0
Use camp themes and activities to come up with creative events and games to take back to your school’s Huddle. (See STV’s Spotlight article each issue.)

Go to Battle
Be bold! Ask your coaches for permission to pray with your team before games and practices. Start team studies. Be open to whatever the Lord leads you to do.

Seek Him
Above all else, continue to develop a truly meaningful personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

Even the pre-camp fears and anxieties of rooming with strangers eventually become distant memories after camp. “[My roommate and I] became really good friends when we were rooming together,” said Emily. “I am very thankful that I got to room with a girl I didn’t know because it made me come out of my shell. She and I clicked right away.”

But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Eventually camp comes to a close, and, even as soon as the trip back home, the world and all its concerns can rush right back. How are you supposed to stay focused, like you learned at camp?

The answer to that question can only be found in the person you grew so close to that week: Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is constantly at work in each of us, encouraging and protecting. And it is important to respond to His work by diving into the Word, praying and listening to what He tells you. Your relationship with the Lord will help you transition from the camp experience and return to your daily life and activities with others back home, but with a greater maturity in your faith.
 

Complimenting that personal time with Christ is your choice to be in community with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another...” Staying in contact with your Huddle Leaders and fellow campers can be the most encouraging thing for both your walk with God and theirs. And since we live in such a technological age, communicating for a lifetime is a possibility.

The online social network of Facebook has made it simple for everyone to keep in touch. When used in an appropriate, God-honoring manner, Facebook can keep campers and Huddle Leaders connected unlike anything else. Using Facebook, you can form “groups” and stay updated with each others’ lives, post photos from camp and send messages.

“Facebook is a great part of the connection,” said KaeLeigh of her Huddle Leaders and fellow campers. “It is good to see that they are still there, and that if I needed them, they would be there. We shared such a great time with each other and learned how great each other’s faith is. It is good to have that extra support when we need it.”

*****

After camp it is important to surround yourself with Christians, but not to the point of exclusion. Jesus gave us all the Great Commission and stated that the lost desperately need Him. He said in Matthew 9:13 (NIV), “...For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You got fired up for Christ at FCA Camp. Now allow your experience to make you bold to spread the truth of Christ. Develop relationships with people who don’t share your faith. Invite them to your Huddle meetings as an avenue to share the gospel. After all, don’t you want everyone to experience the love of Christ like you did at camp? Put into action the lessons you learned from your Huddle Leaders about communicating and developing relationships.

“One of our lessons at camp showed us how to communicate with kids who don’t know Christ,” Emily said. “It explained what to say and to just talk to them and let them know they can become a Christian. One thing Megan [Wilson, my Huddle Leader] told me was that I would never be perfect—that I am always going to sin. But God forgives our sin if we ask for forgiveness and live our lives for Him. That came to my mind, and I told a new believer in our FCA the same thing.”

Perhaps the most positive way to affect change is to bear the fruit of what was planted in your heart at camp. You have the opportunity to go home and completely alter your surroundings through small or big changes. You can influence the people who surround you every day. You can be the voice heard above the noise of this world and the light that shines in their lives and encourages them to live for a higher purpose.

There is no better time to do it than now! The fire that started in you during camp was not just a momentary, passing experience. It can be your life! The fire will go out only if you allow it to. No, it won’t look the same as it did at camp, but it can stay aflame. You can choose right now between the ultimate, eternal prizes and the perishing things of this world.

The answer is simple, even outside of FCA Camp: Get focused and pursue the prize!

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

Photos courtesy of Chip Van Zandt, Marko Hahn and Kristien Humphrey.


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