Before I left for camp, I wrote a little intro to this blog post just to get it started. When I came back from camp, I deleted the intro because this year at camp was so much more than those words could ever begin to describe. Winshape Camps has always been a sweet and homey place for me, but this year shaped it into an even more precious and holy ground. Every year at camp has been impactful, but this year had a different kind of effect on me...
In recent years especially, I walked into camp fragile or struggling, and came out full of hope and more awake in my faith, impacted greatly. Those moments were defintiely much needed, and super imactful, but this summer was a different vibe. I walked into this session joyful, thankful & spiritually steady, not needing to be fixed, but just open to God's words and message for me, and excited to experience the Creator even deeper. Because of this, I got to have a new type of experience at Winshape, just enjoying and soaking up every minute, and being opened fully to God's voice and presence. I left more alive, more awake, and more on fire for Christ than I have ever been. I left rejoicing & I left changed. It was so incredible and I'm still in awe of what this session at Winshape held.
There were a lot of experiences, people, and moments that made camp groovy this summer.
Let's start with the people, because my sweet camp community impacted me a whole lot. At Winshape, we're divided into tribes by age group, and we spend the 2 weeks of camp alongside that group of people. My tribe this year was called Catawba, which is made up of rising juniors and seniors. We had so much fun together and all loved being a part of the Catawba nation, but the impact we left on each other was more than just surface level. By the end of camp, our tribe had formed deep friendships, sweet connections with one another, and had made a record amount of memories. We ate meals together, danced a lot, worshiped, camped out, laughed, made friendship bracelets... but what was really cool was that we got to watch Christ at work among each of us and that was truly beautiful.
I also made many other friends and got to reunite with old camp friends this year. Some older, some younger, I got to form friendships with a lot of fun people. I also had the precious opportunity to connect with the younger tribes, being part of one of the oldest age group of campers. It was so cool, and a great chance to make friends with elementary and middle schoolers, and see (as well as be a part of) the joy and love they experienced at camp in unique ways. I am so thankful for each friendship and the way the Lord supplied such a love filled community, rooted in Him.
Camp is so much fun, and I love pretty much everything we do there, but there were definitely a few highlights from this year.
The Catawba tribe got to do some really fun off campus activities, one of which was a canoeing trip. I loved the experience and had an absolute blast. We canoed for a good bit, and just soaked up time on the river, paddling down small rapids and calm waters. It was a really chill time to just spend on the river, enjoying the views as well as earning a lot of odd tan lines.
Small & holy worship sessions
I brought my acoustic guitar to camp this session which ended up being a really groovy thing. I love playing worship music, and I love group worship opportunities, & I got to experience both in really sweet ways during camp. Not only did I get to play my guitar, but people joined with me to worship, which was so holy and powerful. We also had a counselor in the tribe who played guitar & sometimes we would have journaling and worship sessions in her cabin. They were such a sweet time to connect with God in a really neat setting.
I love camping with a passion, so naturally I enjoyed our tribe campout! It was a beautiful campsite and we got to do a lot of cool stuff like swim in the lake, make a beautiful campfire, eat campy food, and light sparklers (for fourth of July). We also had a cool outdoor church type of vibe, where we sat beside the fire, watching the sunset over the lake and the glowing embers of the campfire while worshipping with acoustic guitars and listening to a powerful message about Christ's love, & surrendering daily to God.
You can probably see a common theme now of the things that had a big impact on me at camp this year, and even though a lot of them seem like similar outdoor experiences, they were very unique! One of my favorite activities was our Catawba night hike, which was early on in camp. We were paired up with somebody we didn't know on the hike, and got to talk with them and get to know them better which was so fun. The hike was fun and the view at the end of our hike was really pretty. On the way back, we hiked alongside our cabin, without a head lamp or flashlight, relying on each other to get back to camp. It was really cool and a sweet opportunity to connect more with my cabin since I didn't know them very well yet.
Council Ring is a big tradition at Winshape, and has always been one of my favorite nights at camp. Throughout the last week, our tribe creates a mashup of songs with a common theme and change the lyrics to be about camp and all the fun things we did. The songs are kept secret and we spend time learning them as a tribe, and then perform them at council ring. It's so fun! We also have other fun things that happen at council ring, like tribe cheers, a bonfire, group songs, as well as other sweet traditions. Plus, council ring was even more fun because our tribe's song won!
Comanche is another camp tradition, in which a select amount of campers are tapped out to embark on a mental, physical, and spiritual challenge. Campers are tapped out if they are seen as living out of the Comanche verse, which is Ephesians 4:1-3, 15. The challenge consists of a night run, fire building, a handwritten essay, acts of service around camp, and other challenges, all completed while on a talking ban. I was so incredibly honored to have gotten the opportunity to be a Comanche, and it helped me dig even deeper into my faith and my relationship with Christ. I learned a lot, and God is continuing to teach me a lot about what that night meant for me. It was so special and I can't even describe how grateful I am that I got to have the experience and that I continue to learn from it.
Overall, this year at camp was so holy and impactful. I loved every second of it & am so thankful for all the sweet memories made! Thank you Winshape Camps for the summer of a lifetime! :)
* All of the pictures in this blog post are taken by the Winshape photographer, not by me! She's incredible at her job and I'm so thankful for the sweet moments she captured on camera! :)