I realized during the week of Chariton Hills Rodeo Bible Camp that I am not as young as I used to be and not nearly as wise as I hope to be.
Chariton Hills Camp has always held a special place in my heart. When I first was asked to help out 5 years ago, I knew absolutely no one at the camp and had no idea Unionville, Mo even existed. Every year I get to return to the Putnam Co. Fairgrounds, it gets harder and harder to say goodbye to some of the best people I know. With men like Kevin and Steve, Jason and Jeremy, Ben, Tom, and Rich; running around camp, I cant think of a better place to spend a week of summer.
This year was especially fun because somewhere over the last year I grew up (check that); grew older somehow. It all started with a phone call back in May when one of our bull riding instructors had fallen through and we had to find a new one ASAP. I made a call to a young man who I had seen ride bulls for the last few years named Jake Drews. Between him and Chase Hamlin, we had the bull riding covered but something else happened as well, they jumped into the camp mindset. They played football every minute of free time, sat with the guys and talked, and ate a ton of ice cream. These young men that I had watched grow up, now were the ones others were watching.
Tricia and I sat and watches as Jake and Chase occupied the attention of the campers. We realized we had gotten older when Jake, Chase, Brittney, and Ashley wanted to challenge us to a game of basketball. Thinking it would be around dinner or during free time, we agreed. When they arrived to take us on at 11:00 pm, it wasn’t going to happen. That is bed time now!
Camp keeps me young…but I hope it makes me wise too.
Some of my favorite moments of camp came between the bull rides or between barrel runs. Talks with Chase and Jake about riding bulls and life; talks with Steve about roping, ranching, and serving the church and the community; talks with Tom about ministry and Rich about feeding the sheep. Time for those talks are rare.
Camps are hard on marriages sometimes. Rodeo has a way of spreading people thin, so when you get to sit and talk with people for a while, you want to take advantage of that. Between the ever-willing-to-listen and timely advice of Pastor/Funeral Home Director Kevin, President Jason, and Worship Leader Ben, it was a week of learning all the things I wished I had learned in my first couple years of marriage.
Spending the week stuck somewhere between energetic youth and wise sage, trying to learn from both, was what made this camp great. I spoke, but felt like I learned more than anything. Every year we pull out of Unionville, I feel more like a camper than I did staff or bullfighter. God had been hammering on me about the things I thought I had figured out. A man is self-reliant. A man is always sure of his abilities. Leadership can only be done from above.
Learning to be a part of a community that takes care of one another and learning to be taken care of is a process that everyone needs to go through. Even the greatest of men still question themselves sometimes and its often the guy who’s taking out the trash, pushing out steers, serving the cheesy-taters, or haulin’ panels who’s leading…you just might not recognize it.