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2023 Northwest Youth Camp

As the 2023 Northwest Youth Camp dates approached, attendees checked the weather forecast repeatedly, with some trepidation after several years of roasting temperatures. When campers arrived at Mayfield Lake first thing on Monday morning, July 24, they were greeted with a light drizzle of rain, which cleared for a beautiful afternoon. A downpour began just in time for flag lowering that evening, with the effect of a slightly early chapel service and less dust than normal for the rest of the perfect week.

The key verse for the week was Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The theme for the week, “Think on These Things,” was introduced on day one, and then each following day was spent focusing on a different section of the verse. The Tuesday discussion was about the phrase “true and honest,” Wednesday was, “just and pure,” Thursday was, “lovely and of good report,” and Friday was, “virtue and praise.” The lessons were designed to make sure students understood what each phrase means, and then how to apply the instruction “think on these things” to their own lives.

At the all-camp meeting on the first day, camp director Erik Calhoun did the usual explanation of schedule and boundaries, and then laid out a list of goals for the week.

Draw closer to the Lord. The primary goal of youth camp for staff and campers alike is for every person to be saved. For those who are already saved, it is a perfect time to seek deeper experiences.

Spend time in prayer. There are ample opportunities to pray, including chapel services every morning and evening. During free time, the chapel is also open for those who want extra time to pray.

Ask questions. Youth camp is a great time to talk with staff about the challenges young people face in school and life. The after-lunch devotions provided an opportunity for campers to have those conversations, but they also occurred after chapel, on the sidelines of a volleyball game, and at other times and places throughout the week.

Make new friends. While campers are in cabins with their friends, there are also always opportunities to get to know someone new. The time spent in line, especially for those cabins that did not specialize in cleaning for inspection each day, was an excellent chance to strike up a conversation.

Have a blast. There were tournaments all week long, in everything from basketball to carpet ball, chess to Uno, and archery to fusion bead design. The game hut was open during free time and was often full. The craft barn had a variety of activities enjoyed by many gifted artists. For example, one person made a teeny, tiny spray bottle out of clay, along with an equally tiny lollipop. (That’s a skill that should surely be transferable into the real world!) Needless to say, a blast was had.

Get exhausted. No explanation needed.

Eat your heart out. The food at camp was better than ever, thanks to Sherry Schuermyer and her kitchen staff. Without question, they are the hardest working people at youth camp. The top three foods served could have been the lasagna, the pizza, and the Thursday afternoon ice cream sandwiches. But then there was also pulled pork, mac and cheese, and a turkey dinner. They exceeded all hopes and expectations.

As youth camp concluded, it was clear that all goals had been met, with smashing success. All attendees can approach the new school year refreshed (after recovering from the exhaustion) and encouraged, with stronger relationships with the Lord and each other.

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