There’s an article by the late Henri Nouwen called “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry” in which Nouwen describes the pattern for discipleship and ministry. He quotes Luke 6:12-19 where Jesus in solitude goes up on the mountain to pray, spending the whole night in prayer. When day breaks Jesus summons his disciples, twelve of them and forms community. In the afternoon He takes His disciples with Him and goes to minister to the crowds, curing them of all their diseases and making them whole. Nouwen describes for us the model that Jesus portrays of how ministry works, “It begins by being with God in solitude; then it creates a fellowship, a community of people with whom the mission is being lived; and finally this community goes out together to heal and to proclaim good news."
If you have read our previous blog and newsletter you’ll remember that this is exactly how King’s Camp was birthed. This month we jump to the present and future of the camp. We see how this model that Jesus provided for us continues at King’s Camp. We hear from our 2019 Summer Camp Director, Peyton Rivera. She graciously tells her story of how God calls us all individually His beloved. He then gives us community to further experience that love. While bearing each others losses and heartaches and triumphs, He then leads us into ministry to others. Peyton’s story is not all roses and sunshine. There is the loss of her beloved brother, friend and confidant, Parker, with whom she shared a love for Jesus and for camp. Her courage to continue to trust in God’s goodness even when the unfathomable happens is a testimony of her faith and her calling to minister to others. She has selflessly poured herself into ministering to children through King’s Camp and has future plans to be pediatric oncological nurse. As Nouwen states, “When you are aware that you are the beloved, and when you have friends around you with whom you live in community, you can do anything. You’re not afraid anymore.”
It is with great pleasure that I share her story here. Remember, if you have a story that you would like to share about how God has ministered to you through this ministry please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
My King’s Camp story began long before I was old enough to attend as a camper. When my oldest sister Alli, who is 9 years older than me, was in the 4thgrade a friend told her all about a small camp in North Louisiana. As any kid would, my sister naturally ran home from school that day to tell my mom about this camp and how she absolutely had to be there in June. My mom was reluctant, of course, because we lived in Lafayette so a 4-hour drive to drop her daughter off at a camp that she had never heard about did not sound very appealing. After much begging from my sister and research about the camp by my mom, Alli packed her bags in June of 1999 to head to King’s Camp for the first time. It is safe to say that my sister, along with my parents and the rest of our family, fell in love with King’s Camp that Summer.
The next year my mom also sent my sister, Lauren, and a few years later Mady, another sister, followed. Every year my younger brother and I tackled the 4-hour drive with my mom just so we could get another glimpse of King's Camp before jumping back in the car for another 4 hours heading home. As June 2007 and my first year as a camper finally arrived, I could not wait to get to camp. (I think I may have even started packing nearly a month early.) From what my sisters told me, I knew that cabins were assigned by birthdays and I had a best friend coming with me who was only 6 days older than me. Because of this, we were sure that we would be in the same cabin which only added to the anticipation. As June inched closer my parents told me what seemed to be the worst news I could ever receive at that time- my younger brother was coming to camp with me. I cried and cried and cried. In my 9-year-old brain, it did not seem fair that he was allowed to go to camp when he was only 8! I had to wait the extra year so he should too! Not to spoil the story but all of that crying did not work.
When the day came and we arrived at camp my friend and I headed to registration, excited to say goodbye to our parents and spend an entire week in the same cabin together. Well, that did not work out exactly how I planned either. We were assigned to different cabins, more tears were shed, and to top it all off my brother was there a year earlier than I thought that he deserved to be. Needless to say, my first year at King's Camp was not exactly what I had in mind. It was because of that week that I began to realize that my plans are not always in sync with God's plans but his are so much better. In June of 2007, I made more new friends than I ever thought possible, got out of my comfort zone, and was able to do activities such as ropes course elements, canoeing, and archery that I had never experienced anywhere else.
I also had the best week with my little brother by my side, despite my expectations, and that was just the beginning of King’s Camp being ‘our place’ as we referred to it often. We actually enjoyed being together so much that every summer that followed, we would both slip into sessions that either Parker was slightly too young for or I was slightly too old for so that we could be together (not to mention it saved my parents a second drive.)
Fast forward to June 2013- A few days before my brother, Parker, and I were scheduled to head to camp, my family was hit with the news that Parker had cancer and needed immediate treatment. While he and my parents headed to St. Jude in Memphis, TN I headed to Mer Rouge after they insisted that I not miss camp because of his diagnosis. This was the one and only year that going to camp was the last thing I wanted to do. While I thought that I should be in Memphis with my family, God, as well as my parents, knew that I needed to be at camp surrounded by love, comfort, and outside support- and that is exactly what I received.
When my brother passed away in January of 2015 my camp friends, counselors, and directors carpooled to make the 4-hour drive in order to be at my brother's services. There were so many of them there that they took up an entire section of the church. I can honestly say from first-hand experience that King's Camp is more than just a camp- it is love, it is support, and it is a family. My years as camper gifted me with such a special, spiritual bond with my brother and I am so grateful that we had that extra year together back in 2007. As a camper, King’s Camp also taught me how to love myself, serve others, and has led me to where I am today in my journey with God.
After my years as a camper came to a close, I had the opportunity to serve as a counselor for 2 years and the Staff Director for 1 year. Through my role as a counselor I was able to bond with the staff I was working alongside, spend an entire month at my favorite place, and minister to kids from many different walks of life. There were many sleepless nights, way too many snacks, and countless stories from campers about their triumphs, struggles, and everything in between. These stories opened my eyes to God’s unconditional love more than ever before. No matter where they were from, who their friends were, or what they looked like, the campers loved each other so fearlessly and were striving to do the same with God. I went into the position as a counselor expecting only for my campers to learn from me and was pleasantly surprised when I learned from them as well. As I moved into the position of Staff Director I was able to see the business side of camp and everything that goes into preparing for campers to arrive. This opportunity opened my eyes, and I was overcome with appreciation for everyone who worked tirelessly in order for King’s Camp to be what it is today.
Through my many different roles at King's Camp, the one thing that I am most thankful for is the true sense of community that it has given me- the ‘King's Camp Family' as we like to call it. King's Camp has encouraged me, supported me and loved me for all that I am. I cannot give back to it enough. It has given me the opportunity to go on ski trips, beach vacations, and hop house to house in July when 1 month just wasn’t enough for the staff to be together. With each year that passes, new campers and counselors are experiencing King's Camp for the first time and this family is growing. Every year at camp seems to be better than the last and, while I am nervous to step into the position as Camp Director, I know that this summer will be no different, that God will move mountains on this campus like he always has.