Wow, we pulled in from Easter Camp just a few hours ago. What a week! We took the smallest crew of campers EVER to any camp in my nearly 4 years here, yet I can't call the event a failure. Our guys had a great time. They behaved well (as far as I know!), and they all seemed to develop stronger friendships with God and others.
As we took our final camp photo this afternoon, at our traditional spot at Springs of Living Water camp, it reminded me of how much these guys have grown up, and all the other students who have come through our doors since I arrived in June 2003. Some of them have become leaders. Some of them have gone on to college. Some of them have slipped through the cracks. Some are struggling in their faith. Some of them are excelling in their faith. Some have chosen to walk away.
Through it all, God's been faithful. I've made more than my share of mistakes. These kids haven't led perfect lives. But many of them have dug deep and found a strength that only comes through that vibrant, living, active faith in Jesus Christ.
Our team had an awesome counselor this year, Mark Grueninger, and this is the first time we've ever included a non-Antelope counselor in our team pic. His wife attended these Radical Reality camps as a teen, and she wanted to return as a counselor for this year's 25th anniversary Easter Camp. Wow I'm glad Mark came along, too! If anyone needs a financial planner in the Los Angeles area, let me know and I'll see if I can connect you with him! Mark stands out as probably the most well-rounded counselor we've had for a camp...and we've had some great counselors...Sofia Acero, Luis Cruz, Melodie Gomez, Mike Lara, April Harlan, Jesse Dalton, Zac from the Bay Area whose last name I forget but who always seems to get our guys! And Mark stands out among that pack.
Anyway, I've thrown in some other pics for fun, just to show images from other camps...Easter Camp, Summer Camp, a Jr High Summer Camp one year. Unfortunately, I don't have a digital version of the team pic from the FIRST camp I went to with these kids, in Summer 2003. There's a print in my office, and I'll get it scanned next week so I can add to this collection. Incredible how much the students have changed as individuals, yet students in many ways haven't changed. They face many of the same struggles and battles, they have many of the same hopes and dreams, and they have the same need for acceptance, love, forgiveness, impartation, redemption, and ministry.