“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16
I was recently asked to give my faith story to a group of high school youth at my church. The youth director knew that camp was a very important part of my journey, but perhaps didn’t realize that it wasn’t my time spent at camp as a camper that was so meaningful, but in fact the summers I worked on staff while I was in college.
Like many of today’s youth experience, I felt a disconnect from my church growing up. I was not engaged and fell away after I was confirmed. I attended youth events very sparsely (only if one of my friends specifically reached out and invited me).
In college, I was seeking a summer job. I remembered a place that I loved while I was a youth, and soon did some internet searches to see how I could get a job there. That place was Pine Lake Camp, an ELCA camp in Waupaca, Wis., and part of Crossways Camping Ministries.
Over the next four summers, I gave my entire summer breaks to be a part of a community. A community that cared for the youth we served, and to show them that God’s love is beyond our understanding and unconditional. I shared what it means to serve others through our partnerships with other churches and through our service to each other at camp.
I walked away each summer completely drained, ready to sleep for an entire week straight, and completely spiritually renewed and ready to spread God’s love to others I encountered.
Those summers were some of the most challenging times of my life, yet they yielded the greatest moments and memories of my life. Serving on summer staff at that camp is what made me into the person I am today.
The youth and young adults that serve on the Summer Ministry Team at NLOM are some of the greatest young people the church has today. They are selfless, hardworking, and filled with joy; all while being covered in sweat and bug bites for 10 weeks of the summer.
Serving on the staff is truly life-changing and an incredibly unique experience. It is the hardest job I have ever had, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else in the world.
Jesus shows us in Matthew 5:14-16 what being the light of Christ is like. Our summer staff is truly the light of Christ to the campers that come to Carol Joy Holling Camp and Sullivan Hills Camp each year.
We are all called not to hide our light, but to shine it for others so that they may see our good works and know God.
Where are you currently shining the light of Christ to others?
Let us all follow the example of the young people on staff, who spend countless hours showing campers that they belong to and are loved unconditionally by God, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Let us all go forth and shine our light bright!