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  • Writer's pictureGina Stinson

Camp Joy 1984

I grabbed the flyer, stuffed it into my Bible and raced to the car. It was spring 1984—the first time I was eligible to go to summer camp. In my hand I had all the information—the cost, what to bring, what not to bring, rules, activities—the next three months could not pass quick enough for me.

I ran to my room as soon as the car pulled to a stop in the driveway. A tossed my Bible to the bed, and knelt as if I would begin praying. Pulling my Bible toward me, I opened it to the place I had crammed the flyer.

Camp Joy

Chattanooga, Tennessee

August 13-18, 1984

My dreams were finally coming true and as if God was smiling down, I would be spending my birthday at camp. Things could not get any better. But as I read with excitement, I quickly was met with the disappointment of the price of a week at the wonderful Camp Joy. Fifty dollars. Neatly squared in the bottom corner of the flyer was the price tag of adolescent fun in the 1980’s. How could we ever afford it?

But I had time. Quickly I began formulating a savings plan. I would babysit and offer to clean people’s homes and I would dig for change in between the car seats and couch cushions. I would go to camp. If determination were a currency, I might as well have already been there.

And with the help of young families allowing me to babysit, a few cleaning jobs and of course, my parents, I arrived at Camp Joy right on time. August 13th, 1984, the day before my twelfth birthday. And all week long I rode horses, went swimming, ate camp food, slept in a screened-in cabin, made friends and heard lessons and sermons that would help launch my spiritual life and growth. You might say, I had a camp experience.

It happens. Young people, and yes, even adults, have a rollercoaster high when they get away with the Lord. When your focus is nothing but Jesus for a week or a weekend, it’s hard not to come away feeling energized and excited about the Lord. But it’s what we do with that energy and excitement a week or two or month or two down the road. Was it just a feeling, just an emotion or did God do something in me that was permanent, longlasting?

We’ve all had those mountaintop experiences. Youth camp, revivals, a Sunday sermon, a missionary presentation, a song on the radio. God uses all these things to draw us closer to him. So what do we do with Jesus now? After the high wears off? After the awesome event ends? What do we do with Jesus?

I have found, for me, the best success to keeping commitments is to write it down and share it with someone. The word of our testimony is powerful and is instrumental in not only defeating the snares of doubt and defeat against the enemy but also it is empowering when we repeat the stories of how Jesus rescues and redeems us.

Want to keep that wonderful feeling and excitement of your best days with Jesus? Tell someone and write it down as a testimony and a weapon. Tell your story every single chance you get. It is after all, your history.

Daniel 4:2 says, "It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High has done for me."

Let's do that—let's show and tell what God has done for us!

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