Camp Amigo, 2015
“ Make A Joyful Noise… Psalm 100:1-2”
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
And Wow, did we ever! Camp Amigo 2015 was a HUGE success! On June 1st through June 3rd our community members joyously journeyed to Amigo Centre in beautiful Sturgis Michigan. Each year we are eager with anticipation of good times, laughter, crafting, boating, archery, fishing, fellowship, devotions and worship, awesome food, and just plain old FUN! We are truly blessed to be invited back each year!
Amigo Staff introduced us to Shrinky Dinks. That was a HUGE success! I must make mention of everyone’s favorite part, of course involving food, Popcorn cooked over a campfire complete with Amigo Staff songs. Such an incredibly dedicated, wonderful staff they are!
Arthur and Bill sang beautifully and the talent abounded…and I mean abounded! Sammy sang and plucked his Ukulele, Emily and Heather danced, staff serenaded the audience, we even have a stand-up comedienne! What talent MDC Goldenrod and our community members possess!
Campers made their own instruments out of recycled household items and crafting supplies. They made tambourines, shakers, rain-sticks, microphones, guitars and drums. Kris takes the cake when it came to crafting his guitar out of paper plates, paint sticks pipe cleaners and string. The creativity and artsy skills that our members embody is both incredible and humbling! What joyful sounds ensued! I felt truly blessed to have experienced such a time.
I had been gifted a moment to sneak away and rest. The trails in the woods are captivating, so I wandered off. I chose where I would rest. I set my Bible down in the stones at the start of the pier and practically galloped to the edge. I kicked off my sandals and dipped my feet into the ice cold lake. I shrieked in delight, and chill. I felt such an overwhelming urge to cry out in praise and thanksgiving to God for all the He allowed me to witness at Camp Amigo. My head swam with praises and shouts of joy until God admonished me and said “Stop. Hush. Listen.” I stopped. I paused and breathed. In the distance, I heard faint laughter, what a joyful noise. I heard friends encouraging one another on a stroll through the woods, a joyful sound. Songs of praise wafted in the air, beautiful. I heard God speak in singing birds, wind dancing through the leaves, and crashing waves on the side of the pier. Oh, how joyful it was to my ear. I turned around to head back to our group when I saw my Bible at the start of my path. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Oh, I must share this moment! God said again, “Hush.” Peace enveloped me and I remembered a familiar song from my youth: I love you, Lord. And I lift my voice, to worship You, oh, my soul rejoice. Take joy, my King, in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet song in Your ear. This was my joyful noise to my Lord. When I returned to the group, completely renewed, I was privileged to share this and we sang together. What a quiet and beautiful moment!
Each year we set aside this time to experience what God has for us in nature and in our relationships with friends. But, it became very obvious to me that in every day life, we need to stop, listen, and respond to what joy we have surrounding us. What do you experience? Kids giggling? Dogs barking? Birds singing? Babies cooing? Friends chatting over coffee? Music? Crickets? Frogs? A lonesome train whistle? Take the time to stop and absorb God’s favor upon us and then return joyful praise to Him for the abundance of joy He gives.
Let me start by introducing myself. Not a very interesting or eye-catching way to begin, I’ll admit, but it’s as good a way as any. My name is Kiersten Payne, and I am the Head Female Counselor and Spiritual Life Development person at Camp Amigo this summer. This is my second summer working at camp; last year I worked as a counselor. Last summer was awesome; I made lots of friends, established great relationships with my campers, and grew spiritually. This summer, though, there’s just something—I can’t quite place what—but there is something special about this summer. Already, within the first week and a half of camp, I can feel the Holy Spirit moving.
This summer the staff has been incredibly cohesive. I know that sounds boring and uninteresting, but honestly, it’s the truth, or at least the best way to explain it. Last Thursday, for example, we were planning on having our weekly breakfast cookout as usual. Come time to make breakfast, however, no one could manage to start a fire. As one of those attempting to light a campfire, I can assure you that this was not some fault of inadequate fire-making skills. That’s not saying I’m a superb fire-maker (I only just recently have become more confident in my ability to start a fire—thanks Cheryl), but I watched with my own eyes as I lit the fire with a match and the fire—with plenty of dry kindling—burned briefly before fizzling out. It seems that due to the high humidity in the air, everyone was having similar results. Not wanting to make the children wait hours while we tried unsuccessfully to build fires, we moved everything and everyone into the pavilion. Within minutes of everyone arriving, the staff was in full action mode. A fire was started in the grill in the pavilion, and staffers manned five griddles, frying up bacon, eggs, and hash browns. A table was set up with tableware and beverages, and staffers organized a system for most efficiently getting all the children their food. Other staffers took children to wash their hands, supervised ga-ga ball, generally kept children under control, dished out food, or supplied the other staff with hot beverages (coffee being necessary on a morning like this). One of the greatest aspects of this whole set-up was that it included very little discussion. We didn’t sit and plan or delegate or direct; we just did. Naturally, we conversed as we went, making sure everyone was cared for and on the same page. It seemed to me that all the stress that had been present in the early morning around the campfires evaporated in the effortlessly well-organized system of our Plan B. In fact, I had fun. I even heard some counselors joke that we ought to just do it this way every week!
And this was not some isolated incident. I’ll not recount everything, or you’d be here all day, but believe me when I tell you that I have seen again and again how wonderful this group of counselors, resources, and leadership is. We all feel comfortable with each other; we have scaled a twelve-foot wall, blessed a marriage, and survived the numerous safety drills of orientation week together. If this is what the first week and a half or so of camp has been, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds.