Many times, when the words ‘Jesus’ and ‘camp’ are associated together, there are often more negative than positive connotations attached to the words. Some people acted surprised when I told them that I would spend my weekend at a religious camp.
Truth be told, I had a similar reaction when my friend first suggested attending an all-girls Christian camp called TRUE Daughters; but, the more she raved and raved about the camp, the more I wanted to go.
Granted, this was my first overnight camp by myself — I’ve previously attended Y-Guides with my dad — so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Sure, I’d been to Y-Guides camp before, but no amount of YouTube videos or talks with my friend could truly prepare me for the experience I received that weekend.
Friday night after school, I hopped in the car and took a short drive to the camp in Greensboro. Immediately after my friend and I arrived, leaders took my phone. At first, I was really uncomfortable as I didn’t know anyone besides my friend; I just wanted to text my other friends, but as the weekend went on, I was so grateful I didn’t have my phone.
I followed my friend down to Cabin 7, our humble abode for the weekend after leaving my phone. Although I originally attended the camp for faith reasons, I also received a “phone detox”. So many people (including myself) spend hours a day on our phones, so it was really nice not having to worry about my phone for a weekend.
After arriving at my cabin, unpacking my things, and meeting my fellow campers, we all headed to my first worship service. Before I went to camp, I would listen to Christian music and sing along at church, but I wasn’t one to start lifting my hands up and screaming the lyrics.
When girls started lifting their hands up in praise that Friday night, I was uncomfortable at first. This was a new experience for me and I felt weird lifting my hands up; but, by Saturday night I was lifting my hands up just like everyone else.
Three different speakers came to talk to us throughout the weekend, all bringing forth different ideas. On Saturday morning, we talked about keeping our eyes wide open and whether our friends bring us positive or negative thoughts. On Saturday night, we talked about rising up and taking action. Finally, on Sunday night we talked about having person, purpose, and path.
Usually during these sort of “lectures” or “talks”, I have trouble paying attention or really taking in the message, but I had no problem at our morning and night lessons. I truly felt connected in my faith and enjoyed being there.
But camp wasn’t just worshiping and lessons. After lunch, cabins would either go to ‘dry-land day’ or ‘lake day’. Dry-land day consisted of a scavenger hunt, an intense ropes course, and archery while lake day was just two hours to enjoy the different slides, water trampolines, zipline, and floaties provided at the lake.
While I loved singing and praising, listening to lessons, and splashing my cabinmates at the lake, I think my all-time favorite part of camp was the Sunday night campfire.
Although it has campfire in its name, there are too many campers to have a true campfire, so Cabins 1-3 go to the cafeteria and Cabins 4-7 gather in the lesson hall to hear everyone’s camp experiences or just general thoughts about how they felt.
When one of my cabinmates originally told me about this, I thought to myself: “There is absolutely no way I am doing that.” The thought of getting up in front of people and talking — especially with as many people as there were— terrified me. But come Sunday night, I decided to share how much I loved the camp and how it had truly changed me, and I was so glad I did. It was especially great to see the look of shock on my friend’s face when I got up and talked as she had no idea I was going to talk.
We had our final worship session Monday morning, then went to our cabins to pack up. The weekend went by so fast; even with an extra day, I wanted to stay there with my amazing cabin mates for another week.
One of the things that you take from camp are note cards. On Friday night, counselors hand out paper bags and makers and you can decorate your bag with your name and whatever else you’d like. Then throughout the weekend, you write little notes of appreciation and encouragement, or leave your phone number to talk after camp in each person’s bag, including the counselors.
I saved my cards until the ride back, and some of them made me cry. I was moved and touched by some of the things the girls said and was even more sad thinking about the fact that almost no one lived in Raleigh, so we couldn’t easily get together. But, we still talk almost everyday so it still feels like we’re together.
I tend to be a hesitant person when it comes to taking big steps, but I’m so glad I decided to go to camp because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have so many new friends and have an even stronger faith. So if you or anyone you know wants a chance to grow stronger in their faith or learn more about Christianity, camps such as this can be a great experience for everyone.