As summer plans come to a close and our schedules all begin to look either more studious or organized, we hope you’ll take the following words to heart. This piece was first crafted for Mission Fest in July, where we celebrated both Ortoha’s rich past and exciting future. While it’s been reworked a bit to be better suited as an online post, the message still rings loud and clear. We encourage you to read it, and as you settle back in to the routines of work or school, consider how you can contribute making the Camp Ortoha season of 2016 even more epic than the one before!
You probably already know that there are a lot of reasons to love Camp Ortoha. What I discovered during the 70th Anniversary Celebration this summer up at camp, though, was that many of those reasons haven’t changed with time; they were the same for campers 70 years ago.
For one, it requires a long drive to get here – no matter where you're coming from. The means you have time to unwind and enjoy the transition to a slower pace. It's out in the middle of nowhere, which is also a big treat, and I mean that! I love that I don't get cell service up there. Getting closer to nature is always a great adventure and leaves me feeling good. And because of those first two reasons to love Ortoha, many more come tumbling in after; there is more time and space for bonds of friendship to be forged; hilarious inside jokes seem to grow as the week lengthens; there is excitement in doing ridiculous things, like elbow tag, skits and doing the “singing in the rain” dance at campfire. We start to realize that our world is bigger than we thought, as we learn from our peers who live in other places in the Pacific Northwest, but we also realize we all share similar struggles.
It is truly amazing that from such humble beginnings camp has stayed open for so long, and that its traditions have been able to remain unchanged. But unfortunately I think it's easy to fall into the mind frame that we are either at or nearing the destination. After all, Camp Ortoha has been open for 70 years! That's a long time for a camp to remain operational. We've worked very hard, so why not settle in a bit and relax? Why not celebrate how successful we've been and enjoy the moment? Surely the hard work is behind us. Surely we can pause for a breather and pat ourselves on the back.
Well, there is another thing that hasn’t changed about camp despite the passing years: the fact that it's God's. He inspired the idea in minds years ago, he gave us a beautiful place to enjoy, he has instilled a passion for the work in many dedicated servants, and he has impacted the lives of countless kids throughout the years. The God who has moved mountains to bring kids to camp to get closer to Him; the God that has led us through all these years of success – HE’S STILL HERE! He is still at work and He still desperately wants to connect with the young people who attend camp. He's still ready to love! He's still ready to change lives!
70 years is nothing to God. So we aren't nearing the finish line and we there's no reason to slow down. There are still so many kids that need the bright spot of camp in their lives!
God's plan for Camp Orotha started with 2 pastors and a group of kids with a vision, and has grown to thousands of camp alumni, lives saved for Christ, and lifelong friendships forged. He has created an army of counselors, deans, directors, cooks and speakers for all over this region. If God could do all that with one small group of youngsters, how much more could he do in the next 70 years with all of us?! I think God's plan is BIG, so big that it might take all of us to make it happen. Let's not put God's plan in our own worldly box of limitations and expectations.
I know you'll agree that camp is awesome, but there is still room for improvement and work to be done. Let's not assume someone else is going to do it all. Each of us has different resources and talents, so let's share the weight and pitch in together! Camp can only be better with dedicated people encouraging and supporting one another, striving for improvement. He can do SO MUCH through us if join his team and his mission.
If we do that, we'll be celebrating another 70 years, no problem. So I challenge you, think about the way camp has impacted your life and the ways you can help God with the mission of Camp Ortoha. Let's celebrate camp's incredible history and honor all those who have built it by making it even better – reaching more kids, changing more lives, spreading God's love to more people. I can't wait to see what he has in store. If you're interested in helping Camp Ortoha in any way, I hope you'll contact us today. Help us make Camp Ortoha even better for the generations to come after us.