Ortoha has been around for many decades, and means so much to so many different people. It can remind alumni campers, for example, of outdoor recreation, strong friendships and big changes in our Christian walks of faith. It might remind camper parents of excited story-telling and the peace of knowing your child is being well looked after. To alumni staff of all positions, it may remind you of watching the incredible, masterful hand of God moving deeply in so many wonderful, young lives.
As the Ortoha Youth Camp concludes for 2017, we wanted to share with you what this year's High School campers had to say about the Ortoha experience. After all, it's important to listen to our campers and hear what's working and isn't working, always striving for a better. As you'll see, and for which we are so thankful for, God's work up at Ortoha is still as present and masterful as ever:
Cameron said: “Since I started coming to camp I continue to grow more comfortable with the camp and my fellow campers and counselors. 2016 was the year that made camp feel like I was meant to be here. I remember there was a video shown of Jesus’ crucifixion. Then we each wrote personal notecards which we nailed to a wooden cross before it was burned in a fire [signifying how God forgives us]. Camp is a place that allows me to escape my family and get closer to God. Without camp I do not think I would be the same person today. It has become a part of my life and I will miss it when I am too old for camp.”
Lilly said: “To me, camp is about community. I am always surprised by how close I feel to my fellow campers after only 5 days. I pick up right where I left off with camp friends I haven’t seen in a year. We have so many ways to bond – from crafts, to rec, to Bible Study. Everyone is always laughing and smiling. I love having the opportunity to spend this amazing time with people who share my faith. I feel as if I’m able to share a part of me at Camp Ortoha that is normally shoved to the sides of my life, and I always come out of camp with a stronger relationship to God. The staff and counselors are amazing and you can feel their passion for this place every day. I wish 5 days didn’t fly by so fast. Even though I’m not at my house, it still feels like home.”
Anna said: “To me camp means home. A place I can see my friends once a year and the wonderful staff! Camp Ortoha has been my “church” in a sense because it has been the place I go to learn about Jesus and a place that you can talk about anything because you know the people here care about you. It is always beautiful and everyone at Ortoha has such an amazing heart. They really care about you and what your plans are for the future. I am thankful that Jesus led me to this place and I get to share it with those around me. You can make life-long friendships, not only with your fellow campers but also with Jesus. This camp changed my life as far as my relationship with God, and has taught me so many life lessons.”
Korin said: “Camp. Ortoha. Those two words bring so much joy to my soul. Once a year I get the honor of spending 5 days in God’s beautiful creation. To me, this camp is a place to feel safe with people who share the same beliefs. Here I am loved. If there’s one way to describe the atmosphere up here, it’s love! Ever since I was coming here in grade school, it has only become more meaningful. There is no reason to be nervous or afraid. Every year I learn this lesson over and over again. I have learned not to worry about the things of this physical world; it’s deeper than that. This experience is about falling deeper in love with God in the place where His love is most apparent."