December 2017

It’s Not Camp Weather

It’s not “camp weather” at camp these days. There is a chill in the air instead of the heavy heat typical to Louisiana in the summer. The familiar green leaves now form a canopy of reds, yellows, and browns. As those leaves finally lose their grip, everything seems closer.  It’s a strange phenomenon. You can see the cabins and the lake from the main area. The walk to either place seems easier—quicker–because they are right there.  I love camp this time of year. It’s in this season that I have some of my most treasured camp memories. 

In the fall of 1987, I attended a weekend college retreat. I was a freshman in college and many of the other attendees had been camp counselors the previous summer when I was a camper.  As a young Christian of three months, I was eager to learn from these “older and wiser” Christians. There were two events that weekend that shaped both my love of camp and my love for people. These events will forever be what camp is to me.    

The first event happened in the cabin. I bunked next to Charlie Murray. Charlie eventually became one of the camp directors. While serving one summer, he suffered a heart attack and is now in heaven. He was a much loved part of camp’s history. But, on that night, Charlie was just my friend. I was learning he had many unique characteristics. One was he never got cold. On both nights of the retreat the temperature dipped down to 40 degrees, but, because I was sleeping next to Charlie, I had a fan blowing on me. Those nights remain the coldest nights of my life.  But, it didn’t really matter. Sleep wasn’t our goal. We spent most of the night talking about our life experiences and how they shaped us. We shared regrets from past failures and talked of the power of forgiveness. We tried as best we could to figure out how to negotiate a holy life in the midst of the craziness of the world. It was one of the first deep spiritual conversations I experienced with someone I considered a close friend.

The second forever memory from that weekend occurred in a small group setting on Saturday night. While I don’t remember the topic I do remember the words spoken directly to me by Cindy Sharp. Cindy eventually married Charlie and, together, they were powerful warriors for God. She said, “David, I loved you before I ever met you. While working as a counselor, we heard about you and that you had decided not to be a camper.  We, as a staff, began to pray for you that you would come to camp and that God would do great things in your life.”

I did not grow up going to camp, but my girlfriend (now my wife) did. She desperately wanted me to go to camp that summer. What she really wanted was for me to find Jesus. The prayers worked. I came to camp for high school session and gave my life to Jesus that week. I still get emotional thinking about strangers loving me enough to pray for me and my relationship with Jesus. It remains a defining moment in my spiritual walk.

Looking back on that weekend thirty years ago, I realize what I experienced was the heart of camp. I saw firsthand that eternal relationships are built and strengthened and God’s love is shown at Camp Ch-Yo-Ca. Life and truth were spoken deeply into a young maturing life. This is still the goal of camp and the staff who serves the campers. 

Even though it was not camp weather that short weekend thirty years ago; it was still camp doing what camp does best. No matter the season. No matter the temperature. Lives are changes, hearts of touched, and God is glorified at Camp Ch-Yo-Ca all year long.  

Now on to summer 2018! Look for the camp application to be up and running on January 15. It’s earlier than in previous years, but we’ve been blessed with full sessions that last few years, so we want you to be able to make your summer plans early. 

Our prayer for you this and every season is that you experience God’s peace, hope and love. 

Merry Christmas! David


Camp Ch-Yo-Ca is a non-denominational Christian youth camp located in the piney woods of North Louisiana in Calhoun, near West Monroe. For over 50 years thousands of campers have come to Christ in deeper ways through their experiences at camp. It is our mission to provide a camp experience where young people can play excitedly, study intentionally, sing deliberately, and seek God wholeheartedly.

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