When I was young, I remember playing with a huge rainbow parachute on Cheuk Ballfield. As I got older, I traded the PeeWee parachute and duck, duck, goose for camo t-shirts and capture the flag in the piney woods. But as the years passed, it wasn’t the games or the activities that kept me coming back every summer. Instead, it was a strong desire to be surrounded by Christian brothers and sisters in those safe and sacred woods. I spent fifty weeks every year longing for the two weeks at Camp where I could be myself and “let my freak flag fly”. I made it through some of the most challenging times of my life just from knowing Camp was right around the corner.
I believe that most anyone who has ever stepped foot inside the gates of Camp Deer Run can feel the presence of God. Surrounded by rustic facilities, sweltering heat, and too many species of bugs to even recognize, it may seem the most unlikely place to see God. But I’m certain that anyone who has ever visited, camped, or worked at Deer Run can testify that God’s love is felt and radiates throughout the grounds of CDR. I started to see that most clearly in the summer of 2012, my first as a staff member.
The theme that summer was “Remain In Me.” It came from John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Throughout that summer, I witnessed first-hand the fruit that the Lord could bear.
A unique experience I had that summer was to share the gospel with a camper who had never heard of Jesus before. It’s something I never expected to come across at Camp, a place where, as a camper, it seemed to me that everyone already knew him. I walked away from those conversations having seen in a new way the power of the Lord bearing fruit in his children.
The summer of 2012 was also the first year that ‘Vine Time’ was implemented for the staff. Vine Time was created to give individual daily quiet time to each staff member to step away from the chaos of camp and spend some quality time with God. The idea was to reconnect ourselves to the Vine, in order to bear fruit in our work at Camp. It helped me to realize and learn the value of connecting to and remaining in God through prayer, Bible reading, and resting in his presence.
The introduction of Vine Time and the theme, Remain In Me, inspired me to write Cabin Bibles for my girls that centered on rooting ourselves in Christ. In order to bear fruit, you must establish roots. To establish roots in our faith means to spend time daily with God through prayer, reading his Word, and fellowship. These are the ideas and lessons I did my best to imprint on the hearts of the girls I counseled. I had no idea the extent of the fruit that would be born through these lessons until years later.
Four years later as I was working my final summer at Camp Deer Run, I received a letter from one the girls who had been in my cabin the summer of 2012. Her letter detailed how the lessons from that theme had meant so much to her, not only that summer at camp, but outside the gates as well. She wrote about how this theme and the lessons from that summer had inspired her to remain faithful and stay connected to the Vine those past five years. That letter is something that I will cherish forever because it is a testament to the faithfulness of the Father. Apart from him, we can do nothing, but if we remain in him, he will bear much fruit through us for years and years to come.
The summer of 2012 holds many special memories for me, but above all, I, and every visitor, staff member, and camper walked away from that summer knowing the importance of remaining close to our Heavenly Father. Apart from Him, we are nothing and we can do nothing. As we get closer to the 60th anniversary of camp, this message still rings true. Apart from God, camp would not still exist. Praise God for 60 years of faithful visitors, campers, and staff members who have helped camp bear much fruit.