Sugar Pine message of encouragement

I was given the opportunity last week to talk to Sugar Pine staff as part of their weekly devotional time, and chose to talk about FOCUS.

When I worked at Sugar Pine in 2002 and 2003, leadership awarded bricks based on character traits at the end of one of the summers.  I was awarded “focus,” because I was almost always focused on the kids. Thus, I used that word as an acronym for the message I wanted to deliver. I also included usually a biblical application or humorous/serious story for each of the themes to tie it all together and be somewhat more engaging than a 33 year old bald guy talking to 18 year olds.

Forgiveness: I once had a camper who was very, VERY excited to be at camp. He was so excited in fact he grabbed someone’s bug spray and sprayed it around the cabin like champagne after the world series. Unfortunately a kid next to him also got a mouthful. As he frantically indicated he could not breathe, I ran up the hill to the restroom and nurse’s station to wash out his mouth. The student said he forgave the “celebratory” kid and also thanked, “Brandon from saving my life.” The two had a moment of saying sorry and they actually became friends going through the scary moment together. While I have never sprayed bug spray intentionally in someones mouth, I have been involved in conflict with others. Often difficult relationships and situations end up forging the closest of bonds. We have to let down our guard and make forgiveness be the mantra not bitterness.

Outward : There’s an interesting story in Exodus 33 where Moses is asking God how others will know that God is with them. God says basically you’ll know because “I am God.” Well, Moses wants more and challenges with “Show me your glory.” Moses sees the end of God’s glory and his face shone like the sun to the people. I tried to tell them how so often working at Camp is a chance to be God’s love to people. To be drama-free, to smile, to take advantage of the small acts of kindness that can make a persons day and let them know they are loved.

Complacency in our jobs, our relationships, our lives. As camp staff, we could be interacting with students who didn’t want to go to camp but were forced too, we could be interacting with kids that have gone to church all of their lives but have never really known what it means to be a Christian… we don’t know and we shouldn’t act differently. Every day we should be treating kids as if it’s their only chance the whole summer to meet people who are filled with God’s spirit of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness…

Undeniable: gods role in our lives and the lives of our campers. Camp is great but not always real life. It’s easy to get distracted from what God is doing in our lives – whether we think it’s ourselves or other factors. But one thing I have always found is much like Elijah looking for God in the earthquake, then the fire – He is often found in a whisper (1 Kings 19). We need to make time to be still with no agenda.

Sarcasm kills relationships. This was and still is a bit of a catchphrase at camp! Yet over my years of working with people in close environments, so true! Especially for a guy like myself who is pretty serious most of the time, when I am trying to joke or be sarcastic – people don’t get it or outwardly show they see the truth in my statement. It’s not a good place to be – I’d rather just be truthful and not resort to aggressiveness hidden behind cleverness.

Thanks Chrissy for letting me come talk to what seemed like a great group of camp staff!

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