We are now just four weeks away from the start of 2018 and the 60th anniversary of Camp Deer Run. It is truly incredible to sit and think of all of the lives that have been changed through this great ministry. The memories, stories, and friendships that have been made in those piney woods are seemingly endless; and every one of them is evidence of God’s power at work through Camp Deer Run.
This week we’re going to look back at the summer of 2014 and the theme of “Beyond Flesh.” Campers and Staff focused on the difference between living for the world and living for God. Paul gives a great explanation of this idea in Romans 8. It’s too long for me to quote here, and I’d need a whole week to unpack the whole thing, but I would encourage you to take some time and reflect on that entire chapter at some point this week.
The summer of 2014 was my third summer on staff and quite possibly the most fun I have ever had at camp.
During 5th session, I was tasked with counseling Men’s 8 with Austin Horton and Tyler Cox as my co-counselors. Before the session began Austin and I stumbled upon an “As Seen On TV!” section in a CVS Pharmacy. After a few minutes, I convinced him to shell out a little bit of his paycheck for a “Perfect Polly.”
This little fake bird ended up becoming a bit of a celebrity for those two weeks. On the first day, we presented it to the guys in our cabin. They quickly decided upon the name Sheilah, and the rest is history. She was the center of attention for a lot of great moments. At one point Sheilah was taken by another cabin and we spent a day to posting “missing” flyers. Luckily she was returned safely and lived on well after camp. (One camper even had some senior pictures taken with Sheilah).
I find it interesting that a plastic parakeet had such an impact during a summer where the theme called us to look beyond the flesh. For that Men’s 8 cabin Sheilah was a lot more than a fake bird. She brought our group together in a unique way. I doubt that any other session at Camp Deer Run has rallied around a plastic bird, but the unity isn’t uncommon at Deer Run. Silly things like a plastic bird or an old basketball hoop can be enough to create a small, crazy, and Christ-centered family. For nearly 60 years camp has provided a place where the flesh and the material world take a backseat and the Spirit of God is front and center.
For many of us, Camp is the place where we can be our true selves. We are able to leave the struggles, fears, and stereotypes of the world behind as God reveals who we truly are in Him. Camp is able to keep our focus on the Spirit by diminishing the importance of the flesh.
In Romans 8:5-6 Paul says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Paul is warning us not to be caught up in the things of this world, but rather to stay focused on the unseen. I believe this idea is at the heart of the Deer Run experience. Camp teaches us to see the world through God’s eyes. We are reminded that our flesh along with its desires, anxieties, and shortcomings are all temporary compared to the eternal glory that is offered to us through Jesus. May we all be encouraged by the fact that both life and peace are found in the Spirit; they are found Beyond Flesh.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” -Colossians 3:1-4