I have come to the conclusion that youth camps are much more fun after the fact.
I recently combined my youth group with a group from Jonesboro to have winter camp out at Camp Daniel Marshall. Let's see -- kids from just outside Atlanta and kids from Harlem. What were we thinking?
Fortunately, our fears were unfounded. The two groups miraculously got along well, and now all the kids are begging us to do summer camp together as well.
I say that camp is more fun after it's over because the memories are one of the best parts of an event like that. I really didn't have fun clinging to the branches of a tree 20 feet in the air while playing capture the counselor, but talking about it is a whole other animal.
To hear me tell the story, I battled the forces of nature like rain, slippery bark and spider webs in the face all to get to the best hiding place in the camp. I overcame and it was a joyous occasion.
In reality, I was wet, dirty, stinky and my leg was shaking from supporting all my weight with my little toe for an hour and a half. Not fun. But telling all the kids that didn't find me where I had hidden -- that was fun.
Another thing about camp is that as an adult you get no sleep, and it wears on you. I am convinced that teenagers can go years at a time with no sleep and still have enough energy to power a small country. I'm past that stage, and three hours a night makes me a bumbling idiot and grumpy to boot.
But the late-night games and the laughs and especially the early-morning prayer times with the other counselors always make good memories. Not to mention seeing that one kid who nobody talks to make a friend during a pillow fight after lights are supposed to be out.
I may have been aggravated at the time because I was running on the same amount of sleep that I'm sure is used as a torture device, but I can look back and smile.
One thing I never smile at remembering is all the work it takes to set up a camp like we had two weeks ago. I have to organize or oversee music, messages, games, food, cabins, small groups, counselors, equipment, money and transportation among other things.
And organization is not a gift that God chose to give me. I always forget something. I'm so thankful for all those people who remind me of the easily overlooked and the ones who just grab the ball and run with it when I've dropped it.
Those people know who they are. Even if I don't recognize you here, you will get your reward in Heaven.
But I always come back from camp with a good feeling about what was accomplished. I can see the difference in the kids. They have grown closer to God, and I have too.
That, above all else, is what makes camp worthwhile.