The Blessing of Camp: Ryan's Story
Have you ever wondered what happens when you put money into Salvation Army kettles during Christmas time? Funds raised by kettles go towards supporting the needs of local communities, not only during the holidays, but throughout the entire year. These programs include feeding the hungry, providing shelter to the homeless, and supporting youth education programs and summer camps.
This is Ryan’s story- a young man who came to The Salvation Army camp:
“I was told I was going to camp. I didn’t want to go, but my mom and Joe said I was going. As soon as I got there I felt I didn’t know anymore, but then Conner and Leslie met me. Connor and I changed to Teen Camp. There were a lot of heartfelt testimonies two of them really reminded me of home when they shared similarities. I started to enjoy my time there. One of the things we did was the Jesus Walk. I think this was the most powerful activity for me. Before I got to camp, I was 50/50 about God. During this activity they has a choose what we wanted to give to God that was holding us back. I wrote two things down and was told to hold it in my pocket. I started to feel scared about bringing my sin to God, but in my heart I knew He already knew. The counselor told all of us to put on a bag, so we did. They told us the bag represented sin. When I put the extra weight on, I was scared while this was happening they had everyone pick up a cross to carry to the top of the hill. On the hilltop, there was another counselor. He told us that the bags we were wearing represented orange prison suits and that we were all guilty and about to go to jail. He told us to imagine standing before the judge who had the power to sentence us for our sin, but instead the judge took my handcuffs and places them on himself to take my place. This really hit me hard. I thought about what Jesus did for me. Before I knew it, camp was over and I didn’t want to go home. I felt peace. On the ride home, I was feeling overwhelmed about my camp experience and I didn’t want it to end. When I was on the bus, I felt Gods hand on my shoulder to comfort me. He spoke to my heart and said ‘my son, fear not what is to come- I am with you’. It was unexplainable. God gave me the courage to go home.”
Camp can have a huge impact on children – it helps to create new friendships and provides an opportunity to connect youth with nature in a fun, nurturing environment. Every camper comes from a different situation, but regardless of their circumstances they are welcomed to Salvation Army camp for fellowship, fun and to experience God’s greatness.
We are not just providing a fun place for youth to go during summer, but we are changing lives and spreading the love of Jesus.