The other camp we attended this summer was Journey @ Highland Lakes Camp. We've been to Highland Lakes the last 2 summers with our entire group and chose this year to bring our middle school students. We ended up taking 24 students and 6 adults, which is an awesome turnout. Separating the high schoolers and middle schoolers into two different camps was a huge success and I think I can say with total certainty that we will be continuing this next summer.
Being at HLCCC is comforting and fun. Comforting because it's familiar to Jordan and myself. We know the campground, the staff, and what to expect. We consistently have high school and college students who spend part or all of their summer working at Highland Lakes. It's west of Austin on lake (river?) Travis, which made for a much shorter drive than Tennessee, but was perfect for our group of middle school students.
Unlike the high school camp which had a missions emphasis, Highland Lakes is a recreation-heavy camp. Mornings and evenings are spent in worship, quiet times, and church group times, but the afternoons are jam packed with tons of activities. There's no shortage of fun things to do with a pool, lake, high ropes course, low ropes course, archery, BMX bikes, paintball, arts & crafts and about a half dozen other things.
Don't think for a minute that just because these kids played games and made beaded keychains instead of serving a community that they didn't experience the presence of Christ during this week! It was so encouraging to hear how the Lord moved in their hearts and lives. I was impressed that many of them even related their experiences on the zip line or banana boats to their own walk with Christ. Many of the organized rec activities were accompanied by a passage of scripture and an applicable lesson on things like unity within the body of Christ, and perseverance in the face of difficulty.
We ended up spending the first half of the week in the rain. In fact, half of the first day's activities were rained out completely and the kids spent several hours indoors playing games. One of the group leaders later shared with me that her girls told her they were thankful for the rain. She said they realized that they were so focused on the activities that they'd forgotten the reason why they were at camp in the first place. The girls said having the rain step in and interfere with the "fun stuff" helped them redirect their focus on Christ. So proud of these kids! Another high point of camp (according to many students) was when the power went out during worship one night. Instead of panicking in the dark, the lead singer/guitar player of the band broke into a few acoustic hymns and we continued worshipping together (aided by the lights of some cell phones and a few random flashlights). It was in that moment that we all saw God's power in that place.
I had a wonderful time at both of our summer camps this year and after a few great days of rest, my ankles have resumed their normal size. We have a few other things lined up this summer and are already in full-swing planning mode for the next school year and summer. I can't wait to share what's on our hearts and on our schedule for 2013!