The hot days of summer upon us now may not seem like a blessing, but these summer days are certainly blessed with opportunities for youth to attend Bible Camps that are supported by congregations throughout the synod. Bible camps such as Camp Shalom, EWALU, Ingham-Okoboji, Lutheran Lakeside, and Riverside all play an important role in youth faith development.
The story of Jeb Gent, a counselor at Riverside Bible Camp in Story City, Iowa is a great witness of how Bible Camps are a blessing in youth ministry.
“Riverside A Blessing” Jeb Gent
Riverside is a huge blessing in my life and of thousands of kids each year! I attended Riverside as a camper for a majority of the years I could. This is where I truly found my faith and it was a way to show me how to live it out. Through the counselors’ examples, bible studies, God Times, and the mime, I was able to find God and his desires for me. The camp is continuing to be the same thing for these kids as it was for me years ago, if not better!
Now being on the other side, I have a whole different perspective of camp. Instead of learning the more basic “who God is” and “how he desires a relationship with me”, I have learned many applicable faith-building qualities. Camp creates a desperate need for living out a righteous life for God. We are living and walking examples for these thirsty campers, and have a lot of pressure to show them what it means to seek God in every day living. As the book of James tells us to be very careful when entering a “teaching” job, Riverside has helped me to be disciplined in my example that I show.
Another thing I have taken from working at camp is a severe reliance on God… for everything! There are many stresses that come from pouring “everything we’ve got” into these campers, and we cannot rely on our strength alone. I have learned to rely solely on God for energy and comfort when the going gets tough. This has helped SO much with struggles and temptations in the college atmosphere, and will continue forever!
Finally, working at camp filled my spirit with a genuine desire to preach the gospel to these campers, and any other person. First starting at camp, I was looking to do everything right for these kids and answer the questions they had, just perfectly. I wanted them to have a great time and learn a lot! I soon realized how that was definitely not the primary focus I wanted or the kind camp wanted for by the campers. They desire “to make Christ known to all” and I needed to make that my priority and passion. With God’s grace, this became my number one desire and allowed passion and love to be revealed. How much easier it is now to “give em’ Jesus”, with a real passion and desire for them to know him personally!
Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp has been a huge blessing to staff, campers, the community, and me. It has been a great and uplifting camp, and will continue to do so for a long time!
Jeb Gent is a counselor on the Discipleship Team at Riverside. He comes from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.