After almost 15 years of complex and lengthy probate procedures, construction plans and permit applications going through the excruciatingly slow and ponderous - oftentimes frustrating - process of dealing with the vagaries of Township and County politics, the Harker Legacy fund has now arrived at the construction phase!
Junior 1 Camp 2015 Saw 23 young campers give their hearts to Jesus, many for the very first time! With a summer theme of Celebrate I think it is truly time to celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit upon these young hearts and lives. It is a humbling thought that all of the hard work that goes into a summer camping season is just a small part compared new Christians joining the ranks of all who have gone before them. It is also just a start for the summer of 2015! If God is willing, many more lives will be changed as we seek to share Jesus Christ with all of the young folks that are shared with us throughout the summer camping season. Come let us CELEBRATE!
For the last couple of years several of the leadership folks who are part of Lebanon's two Sailing Camp Sessions have taken to doing projects when they weren't busy leading campers. This year they chose to both fund and undertake the task of repairing some of the permanent picnic tables in Lebanon's picnic area. After repairing a few of the tables, they decided that they wanted to do repair more tables than they had budgeted for. The Sailing Camp leaders began to send several emails to the Sailing Camp team and the CCR Committee. The messages gauged their interest in the project. The response was terrific – donations were collected, a date was selected for a crew to come work, and food was prepared to feed hungry workers. I even sneaked in a short business meeting into the agenda for their day!As you can see in the photo the day was not all sunshine and roses. Work began in the rain! Tents were set up over the work areas and used until the rain moved out. Chili, pulled pork sandwiches, chips, fruit and much more made up lunch for the entire group. The workers were able to sit at the first table completed for the day and after the meal, perhaps the shortest CCR meeting ever was held. three tables were completely renovated, with six more having at least the benches replaced.
As you can see in the photo the day was not all sunshine and roses. Work began in the rain! Tents were set up over the work areas and used until the rain moved out. Chili, pulled pork sandwiches, chips, fruit made up lunch for the entire group. The workers were able to sit at the first table they completed, a great reward for all their hard work. After the meal we held what may go down as the shortest CCR meeting in history. By the end of the day three tables were completely renovated, and six more had had at least the benches replaced.
Camp Lebanon's CCR Committee has always been filled with folks that care for the ministry and share their gifts and talents continually. Many thanks go out to the entire Committee for their continued support and care of Camp Lebanon.
What would a Memorial Day picnic be without a little fishing? Memorial Day came a little early this year but it sure brought some great weather! Each year many of our Latino churches visit Camp Lebanon on Memorial Day for the biggest picnic of the year. The day is filled with food, games, worship and so much more. Did I mention there was food?
With temperatures in the low 80's and no threat of rain, the party was on all day and on into the night. This year's great weather brought 1045 people from at least 20 ABC churches throughout New Jersey. Hopefully we will see many of them for our Latino Camp session this summer running from July 20 to 26, 2014!
After great visits to Cairn University and to Messiah College on summer staff recruiting trips it is time to encourage everyone else to consider your role at Camp Lebanon for this summer. I am constantly looking for folks that love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to share that love with others! How about you? Are you seeking to touch lives in a positive, encouraging way? If this is your desire then the campers at Camp Lebanon need you as much as I need you! If you are seeking to serve as a summer staffer for the full seven weeks simply click the "summer staffer" link at the bottom of this post, print the application, fill it out and mail it to Camp Lebanon. If you cannot do the entire seven weeks then perhaps you can spare a week or two of your time to help campers see Jesus at work through your life and eyes. To fill out a volunteer application simply click on the "volunteer" link found at the bottom of this post. Again, print the volunteer application, fill it out and mail it to Camp Lebanon. For both summer staff and for volunteers, I cannot express adequately how your time and caring can change and transform lives for eternity! Camp Lebanon has been helping to change lives for many, many years and with God's blessings and your help we will continue to give God all of the glory as He makes positive changes in the lives of everyone involved. Come, now is the time, get involved! Use the links below to submit an application.
Yesterday, I shared a portion of my calling to the camping ministry at First Baptist Church of Pitman, New Jersey. On my drive home I decided that I needed to share some of my story with you. My calling to the camping ministry began when I was very young. Of course, at that time, I did not realize that my future was beginning to take root. As a young boy I attended summer camp weeks at three different camps over three years. The last camp I attended, as a camper, was Laurel Highlands Baptist Camp. My counselor was a man named Tom. Tom was a large round man that had already given many years to serving as a volunteer counselor at Laurel Highlands and had many more to go. As I look back I am convinced that he was a big man because he needed the extra space for his extra large heart! Tom was filled with a love for sharing his faith with his campers and anyone that came close enough to hear him.
I was born into an American Baptist family. I had a lot of good times at my home church and met a lot of very fine people at the church. I had also attended two different Christian camps prior to attending Laurel Highlands Baptist Camp. So I was not lacking for Biblical teaching! Yet, there was something missing even though I did not realize it until I met Tom!
I was a very shy (hard to believe) and backwards boy. Tom quickly understood that and totally took me under his wing and kept me close. Boys at that age can be hard on each other and even cruel to each other at times. But the week I was in that cabin I was protected and safe. No one could hurt me or harm me while Tom was around. Not only did we have a lot of fun, we learned our Bible lessons and more about Jesus. The more I learned about Jesus the more I was convinced that Tom must surely have looked a lot like Jesus! He was a very kind and loving man who cared deeply about my well-being. He desired that I be a better person and assured me that I was loved. Tom showed me a better way to be as a young boy. Tom was the very first person outside of my own family that I knew loved me for who I was! It is that love that I experienced as a boy that I desire to share with others. It became the very beginning of my calling to the camp ministry and eventually lead me to New Jersey and Camp Lebanon.
Tom is not around any more except in my memories and the memories of the many lives that he touched over the years. Our churches and beloved Camp Lebanon need more Tom's hanging around. I know Tom was who he was because of who his Lord and Savior was! Tom loved others because he, too, was loved by the Master, Jesus Christ.
What about you, are you like Tom? If so, I would challenge you to give a week of your life as a cabin counselor. You never know who you will impact or where it may lead them! Maybe, just maybe, Camp Lebanon's future Director will be a camper this summer!
Most people in a typical ABC church in New Jersey know that Camp Lebanon is a summer camp for kids. This is a very true. Yet, Camp Lebanon is more than just a camp for kids. We host many groups, most on weekends, during the non-summer months. Over the last few years Camp has had a very special relationship with one of the user groups which found our site suitable for their needs. The Hunterdon Huskies, a competition cheer leader squad, uses Fairmount Hall for their various squads to practice their routines. The Huskies move back in early in September and stay until their season is over, usually around the first week in December. The last couple of years the Huskies have had squads make it to the Nationals – they have even won the National tournament!
Last year the Huskies formed a squad for girls with special needs. They meet once a week and use Roberson Dining Hall for their practices. This year the squad has grown in size and continues to meet at Camp Lebanon throughout the Fall.
Camp Lebanon is blessed to have the Hunterdon Huskies as a user group. In fact, they are more than a user group. They have become like family. I am proud that, in a small way, Camp Lebanon has helped these girls achieve success through their hard work and commitment towards a goal! Thank you Huskies for making Camp Lebanon home.
The summer camping season is coming to an end today. The last camper is only moments away from departing camp grounds for his trip back home. The staff, those that are still here, are working hard to clean everything so that our next user group can move in later today! As Camp Lebanon is moving out Camp Fatima, a camp for youth with special needs, is moving in. We are moving to our farewell dinner together as Camp Fatima is moving to their opening day together. This summer brought with it many frustrations and many rewards; which is the normal summer routine. Our attendance was down this year after having gone up last year. Yet, our campers making first time commitments to Jesus Christ was up! We had almost seventy young people go forward at a commitment service or share with their counselor later that they wanted to give their lives to Christ. During Latino Camp eight young people asked their pastors to baptize them when they got back to their churches.
Summer staff was quite interesting too! This was a year with a very high turnover ratio with very few returning staff. The high turnover brought with it some problems and some rewards as well. This staff has chosen a theme name for themselves and the entire summer as "The Year of the Newbies!" Overall the staff was very good. The summer of 2013 saw one of my "older" and more mature counseling crews. The maturity level brought with it more spoken blessings at meal times. Normal meal times are filled with a silly song as a blessing, this year even the campers were praying out loud for the meal!
Our last meal together will be in a few short hours as we share our victories, stories and laughter. Some staff will be looking to next year while other will be looking to see what comes next. Some have a clear path ahead while others are facing some uncertainties. No matter what we are facing ahead of us, it is clear to me that we have shared in a good work as we talked about our faith and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each and every camper, staffer and friend that came to this very special place called Camp Lebanon.
My prayer for you is that your hearts will be stirred to come and see for yourselves and get involved as we go forward to what God is calling us to.
Camp has started and believe it or not we are already in week three! Things are moving very quickly this year and as usual I am way behind in my office duties. So let me take a moment to recap what has been happening. Orientation week went really well. This year I did not need to hire any International counselors because I had enough Americans apply for staff positions. I do, however, have one staffer that is originally from Ecuador and one from China. I also have one staffer that came here from Germany even though he has only lived there for three years, so if you stretch your imagination just a bit...I still have an International staff!
Junior 1 camp was a bit larger than last year's session and Sailing 1 was a little larger too. That is our ups for this article. Junior 1 had about 24 young people go forward at the commitment service. Most of the young people were making first time decisions for Christ while the others were recommitting their lives to Christ. That number is almost half of the entire camp that went forward at the invitation!
Last week's Junior High camp was smaller than normal. Junior High camp is always an interesting camp as my friend Rev. Chaz Hutchison stretches everyone with new games and challenges. Chaz likes to have staff take over vespers as the week goes along and four different staffers lead the vesper worship services. Even among our staff we are trying to build stronger Christians! When staff step out in faith to share their faith with the entire camp people take notice and campers tend to listen a little closer. I am proud of those that dared to step up and lead.
Also, during the Junior High camp I challenged the entire camp with a Bible question, I will be using it later and do not wish to give you the question or answer in this article. I offered a pizza party to the cabin group that came up with the correct answer. All week long I had campers coming to me with Bible verses that they thought answered my question correctly, it was great to see so many young people using their Bibles. Finally, on Friday morning one of the young male campers came to me with the right verse! Their counselor said that they read three full Gospels until they found the answer I was looking for! This same cabin group also won the cabin clean up award! Party time for cabin 12-A.
That brings us to Music Camp week. Leadership Camp starts this week too as well as Primary Mini-Camp later this week. I will get another article next week to recap all three of these camps for you. For now, keep on praying as we need your prayers to help beat the heat of the week! The weather is brutal so far and will only get hotter as the week goes on. Chaz and I supplied them with pizza, soda and snacks for a party in the Session Leaders air-conditioned apartment!
Thank you all for your prayers and support.
Each year Memorial Day brings out many of our Latino Churches for a day of food, games, worship and all around fun and fellowship. The day, for me, started at 6 am. as I headed out for coffee and doughnuts for our pre-camp staffers and all of the volunteers that come to help us serve a group this large! Our first two picnic groups arrived at 6:30 am.! I can only imagine what time they had to get up and pack to get here that early!! This year the attendance was down with a total of 944 people in attendance. Last year was the largest crowd that I have experienced at 1,300 people! I am sure that the five days of rain prior to Monday had scared off a few folks. The day was about as perfect a day as one could ask for. Sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-seventies, a slight breeze wafting the wonderful aromas of food all through the camp. I can never think of Memorial Day without thinking of the beauty of the day shared with all of the folks that come to Camp Lebanon to make a day of memories. Of course in my imagination I can almost smell the food!
After a great week of training with our Camp Lebanon staff we open up the summer camping schedule with Sailing Camp One and Junior One sessions. With very few problems, other than every sail boat dumping it's passengers more than once yesterday and pehaps too many lollipops won by Junior campers at last nights carnival, the week is going very smoothly! God has granted an over-all increase in the number of campers in attndance from last summer's first week of camping.
Just a reminder that if you and your church are interested in praying for all of the campers we would encourage you to contact the Camp Lebanon office at (908) 236-2638 and ask Miss Penny about joining the "Prayer Warriors" group. As always we would ask that you lift us in prayer even as you are reading this. God is good and God is great! Amen
Each year the party at Camp Lebanon seems to start earlier and earlier and continue later and later. Folks from many of our Latino congregations come to Camp Lebanon for the party of the summer! This summer was no different from the past 24 summers that I have been part of. People coming early to claim their spot and set up for an all day fiesta! Once again there were well over 1,000 people in attendance. The weather was beautiful and helped to set the stage for a very good day.
One of my chores for this day is to ride around with my good friend Chaz Hutchison and pick up full bags of trash and hand out more fresh trash bags. On one of my trips Chaz called me over to the side of a picnic table to see the two little girls sound asleep in a hamoc. With all of the hustle and bustle going on these two little girls found time to create the most precious picture of the day for me!