As someone who has grown up in camping ministry, I like to say that camp is “in my blood”. I am 24 years old and have spent at least 16 of those years involved in camp, either as the child of the directors or as staff myself. Growing up at camp was something that really shaped who I am, what I believe, and gave me relationships that are incredibly valuable.
As a child I was often shy, quiet, and reserved. I liked to do what was expected me and was the ultimate “people pleaser”. At camp was where I really developed who I am. It was a place where it was okay for me to let go of the expectations of others and be myself. It was at camp that I realized how truly crazy and loud and… ahem… obnoxious I can be. I learned that it is okay for me to have fun and that I can be confident in the side of myself that can let loose! While part of me still is that quiet people pleasing person, I also know there is a part of me that likes to be crazy, and at camp I learned that it is okay to be confident in both of these aspects of myself.
Camp also played a huge role in shaping what I believed. I saw my parents loving the campers and staff and I saw what it looks like to love and care for those around me. I heard about Jesus from staff who lived lives committed to following Him and I saw that it can be a normal part of life. Most of all, I experienced the love of God and the great value He sees in me, and it was at camp that I chose to commit my life to Him and follow Him forever.
One of the things that I am most grateful for from my years at camp are the relationships that I built that continue to this day. As a young girl growing up in the camping community, I had adult volunteers who really poured into me. They saw value in me and purpose in my life and they encouraged me in what they saw. They invested in my life not only in the summer but throughout the years. These people really helped to shape who I became as an adult and became family of my heart. It is relationships like these that make camp ministry so beautiful and impactful.
I am very thankful to have had the childhood that I did. I love that I grew up as the child of camp directors and I have never regretted choosing to continue in this ministry as an adult. Each year I see lives being changed and I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this work!
~Cookie (Melissa Fraser).