The spiritual atmosphere at Glacier View Ranch (GVR) summer camp in Colorado, United States, has had a positive impact on campers and staff alike. Eight campers and one staff member were baptized June 30.
Charles Metz, staff member and theology major from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, rededicated his life to Jesus. He said that he was inspired to reconnect with God at camp because he had time to “pause and reflect” and be present in a “healthy environment” with people who encouraged him in his walk with Jesus.
For many staff members and campers, camp can be a temporary escape from problems at home. For Metz, being in an environment that “presented a God that I didn’t grow up knowing and one that loved me for who I am” brought him closer to God.
Brandon Westgate, GVR pastor and youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, mentioned that he takes time to have “intentional conversations with staff and give council about things going on in their lives.” Westgate loves to give “aha moments” and help staff come to realizations about their true purpose. Metz said that Westgate, other staff, and last week’s camp pastor, Leandro Bizama, have had a positive impact on his spirituality.
Bizama, an associate pastor at Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church, baptized two of the candidates while at the camp with his family. “Last week was very special. You combine beautiful, gorgeous nature, mountains, and great weather with sharing the story of Jesus with 10- to 12-year-olds, what is there not to like about that? We enjoyed a great week. The baptism was a great celebration,” he said.
Overall, Westgate and the returning staff said that staff morale and relationships are more positive than last summer. “We are all following Matthew 18,” he said, “which talks about dealing with conflict in a healthy and uplifting way toward others. Creating a safe place to let staff know their opinion matters and that they are valued” is very important to a healthy environment.
Staff pastor Ashley Halvorson talked about ways she can encourage staff who may be struggling or in need of some extra encouragement. One such way is the “warm fuzzy board” that is posted in the camp’s office where staff can leave notes of encouragement, either anonymously or by name. She has also created a survey for staff to fill out weekly, which “gives people who are less likely to speak up about their feelings to share how they are doing and get support,” Halvorson said. She is reminded that “God is the one taking care of people, not me. Because I couldn’t do it alone.”
Having a spiritual high among the staff enables them to better connect with campers who might be questioning their spirituality or wanting to deepen their relationship with God. Hannah Boyd, a first-year girls’ counselor, explained how special it felt to see her campers last week “make a life-altering decision” by getting baptized and to know that she had an impact on their walk with God. She said she can feel the “spiritual high” within the atmosphere at camp and how it makes it easy to show God to the campers “when He is all around.”
It appears showing God’s love at camp has become a chain reaction. Feeling something of this nature seems “unavoidable,” Metz said. “Even though I’ve been running a lot,” an environment with God’s love at the center is “all I’ve ever wanted.”