I heard that our church camp for children was canceled again this year due to Covid. That made me sad for the children who would miss out on the experience. My own church camp experience made a lifelong impact on me.
I was going into fifth grade the summer I went away to church camp for the first time. Two friends went with me. We were paired with a counselor and an older girl who liked to flirt with boys. There was no one in the room next to ours the first day. The three of us friends decided to hide from our counselor and went into the room we thought was empty. An elderly lady was laying on a cot in there. We stopped so fast but it still woke her up.
Her name was Laura, and she was very nice. She came to camp every year as a counselor but this particular year she hadn’t been paired with any campers. So she took over as our counselor and led us to our activities while our assigned counselor and the older girl went off and did their own thing.
We had so much fun with her that the next summer we asked to be in her group. She found out I liked to write, and she encouraged me to write Godly stories.
After we returned home that year, I was in sixth grade. I wrote a mostly plagiarized story about squirrel characters and sent a copy to her. She mailed it to a Christian publisher on my behalf. The publisher wrote back that I had potential.
From that moment on, this camp counselor, Laura, became one of my champions when it came to my writing. She wasn’t a counselor for campers who moved onto middle school, so I didn’t see her again after I entered junior high.
However, she corresponded with me throughout my teenaged years and into my early adulthood. I never knew what she saw in me, but she encouraged me to continue to write.
When I went to Mexico to do some mission work in 1988, she asked if she could purchase a camera for me. Instead, I had my eye on a study Bible, and she bought me a leatherbound monogrammed copy. During that six months I spent in Mexico, she sent letters and tracts. Homesick, I looked forward to the mail.
When I returned home, she invited me to come and speak at her church about my trip. An older couple from my church drove me the 1 ½ hours to her town. On the way, God gave me a little chorus to play on my guitar (which I was terrible at playing). The words came to me in Spanish. The translation was: “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, we will triumph over our enemies in the name of Jesus.”
We had dinner with Laura in her home, and then went to the church, where I showed slides from my trip and talked about the best parts of the experience.
That was the last time I connected with Laura. I believe she died shortly thereafter. But the impact she had on my life, and my writing, was great. I owe much of my persistence in writing fiction to her prayers and her encouragement.
During that first camp experience, I went forward to the altar and gave my heart to Christ. I haven’t always tried to honor God with my writing, especially during my high school years. However, in the early 2000’s, I decided to write inspirational fiction. For me, that means not writing bedroom scenes or characters who are sexually active outside of marriage.
I have kept to that promise I made to myself and to God.
God has blessed my writing in the past two years. I have several books published. He is so gracious to me.
I believe much of my success can be attributed to a camp counselor who saw potential in a child’s gift and prayed for her for many years. Through Laura’s encouragement, I came to believe in myself and my writing ability. I hope to always use it to bring glory to God.