3 Vital Lessons I Learned From Being a Counselor in the United Youth Camp

The counselors and campers posing during the wilderness skills. (Photo Source: Meryl Campos)

The counselors and campers posing during the wilderness skills. (Photo Source: Meryl Campos)

This year was the second time I serve as a counselor in the Philippine United Youth Camp. I served as a counselor for one of the boy dorms. While most of you might think that the camp teaches lessons to the campers, the truth is, it has taught me more lessons being a counselor than being a camper. The more I learn things, the more I realized how ignorant I am. There are a lot of lessons I learned from being a counselor, but for the moment, I would like to share 3 of them.

Lesson #1: The youths in the church desperately need guidance

As a counselor, we are tasked to be with our dorm campers 24/7. I need to be with them all the time and I can’t leave them under normal circumstances. As I spend time with them, I can only imagine the importance of proper guidance for them to be godly individual. The campers are very young, still struggling to develop themselves. Without proper guidance, they can easily be swayed to the wrong path.

This is when I realized how limited the camp is. Seven days are really not enough. We can only do so much to impact their lives in a positive way. There is no doubt that the camp is powerful and very influential but without reinforcement and follow up, the effect of the camp can easily wear down for the rest of the year, if not for the rest of their lives.

Photo by Meryl Macaraeg

Photo by Meryl Macaraeg

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 tells us:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

All of us have a role to play in educating and bringing up our youths in the church. However, the parents are in the unique and special position to diligently teach their children.

Teaching the children is not just a one-time event. Deuteronomy tells us that we need to talk about God’s commandments when you SIT in your house, when you WALK by the way, when you LIE down, and when you RISE up!

How many of us are still doing this? Do we find time teaching our children about God when sit down in our house, when we walk by the way, before we sleep and when we rise up? I hope we do.

Lessons #2: Staying close to the Church is very crucial

Most of the campers I talked to would say that their favorite aspect of camp is the friendship. In camp, we have peer pressure, but it is not the peer pressure we commonly see in our schools where students are being influenced to do bad things. But in camp, we have positive peer pressure.

I have seen firsthand the power of friendship and how it can make you a better person. In camp, we make it a point that no one is going to put down another camper. We encourage each other. When we have games, we encourage. We cheer not just for our team, but also for the other team.

In camp, we have the most popular tunnel of all. We call it the mud tunnel. As you can imagine, the place is so dark and cold. It is so muddy. I believe, no person in his right mind would enter that tunnel without a good reason. The last time I went in, there are a lot of spiders and fire ants. Imagine yourself being alone in that place. It will be very frightening.

But imagine yourself with your friends and all the staff surrounding you; fear instantly dissolves. All of a sudden, you will ignore the darkness, the cold, ants, spiders and mud – all because you have your friends to support you.  I believe, when you are surrounded by friends, you become BRAVER and FEARLESS.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us:

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but EXHORTING one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

This is what we call positive peer pressure. We provoke each of us unto love and good works. We can we achieve that by not forsaking the assembling ourselves.

The moment you decide to compromise attending Sabbath services, you are in for very fatal consequences. You will not just be away from the body of Christ, but you will also be away from God.

Lessons #3: Everyone will need to make a choice

Finally, I learned that no matter what you teach the campers, it will always be their choice whether to act upon what they have learned or not. Every time we have a dorm discussion, I have this burning passion to motivate, to inspire, to help them realize that their time is now. But at the end of the day, it will be their choice.

Just like what Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Photo Source: Meryl Campos

Photo Source: Meryl Campos

The campers have been given a choice. We have been given a choice. God set before us life and death. It is His test for us. But unlike the exams in our school, we don’t have to think hard to know the answer because God already gave us the answer! He said, CHOOSE LIFE!

In every camp, we cannot say that 100 percent of those who attended will make the right choice. It is not a guarantee if you attended camp, it will be your sure ticket to salvation. No, it never worked that way. Each camper is given a choice and that choice is really vital. One of the saddest things for me to observe is when a camper leaves the Church. It is really, really sad to see our youths slowly disappearing. However, it is never too late for them. God is patient and He works with us individually. God has a plan and purpose.

Conclusion

For us here, let us make the right choice. We are in a battle. Actually, we are in war and that warfare is not physical, but spiritual. We are in a war and we need to choose our side.

Will you be in God’s side or Satan’s side?

I hope we don’t find ourselves fighting against God. Let us fight the good fight and choose to stay within God’s side. God never fails and He will never lose a battle. God will win. The question now is, who’s side are you on?

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Additional Reading:

What Does It Mean To “Despise Your Youth?”

Some Young Adults Are Leaving Church

You’re Never Too Young to Serve!

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