It’s Time to Be Centered!

By Lt. Colonel Evelyn Hunter – 

This is the time of year when either my friend or I might be heard to say, “Let’s go camping!” This is an activity which we began just a few years ago. The experience of camping was new to me. I had been to camp, but not camping. I found the experience relaxing and refreshing; it was an opportunity to remove myself from the everyday routines and to change the pace of my life drastically; to affirm my being centered and focused in my spiritual life.

Camping is a word we may think we understand when, in fact, we have very different pictures of it in our minds. I have another friend who gives me a bad time about my style of camping. She feels I have no understanding of what real camping is like. You see, her style of camping is to backpack, sleep on the ground, and, for the want of any better description, rough it. I admit, that style of camping is not among my choices. Her description of my style is that I have a tent trailer that isn’t a tent, and I must have a cement pad on which to park the trailer. It isn’t a bad description. I want to enjoy the experience of camping, but I don’t want the dirt or discomfort. In other words, she might say I’m a wimp about camping and I think she would be right.

This summer a group of young people from Camp Arnold in the Northwest Division had a ‘wilderness expedition’ experience. It might not be my style of camping, but what an experience it was for them!

These young people had each been a participant in Camp Arnold’s Wilderness Camp program. Now, they were given an opportunity to experience wilderness backpacking, mountaineering and rock climbing. They had some exposure to these during their earlier experience at Camp Arnold. However, this new experience would be on the Olympic Peninsula, in a place called the Colonel Bob Wilderness Area.

The first three days were spent at Camp Arnold’s Wilderness Camp making all preparations for the trip, learning and refreshing skills critical to the upcoming experience, and learning about their equipment and techniques for living in the wilderness. Five days were spent living in the wilderness. During this time they saw their natural world very differently, experiencing the elements of nature as never before. The final two days were again spent in the Wilderness Camp wrapping up their experience.

Base camp for the expedition was set up at a place called Moonshine Flats. Following devotions on the first night, there was an inquiry about the origin of the name. Before much time was spent guessing, out from behind the mountain rose the most spectacular full moon. Total quiet fell over the group and a new appreciation for the majesty of God and his creation was born as they watched in amazement the scene as it unfolded.

On the last night, again on Moonshine Flats, the worship experience was evident in the chorus “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me; cast me not away from thy presence, O Lord; and hold not thy Holy Spirit from me; Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

This was an experience intended to build each person’s inner confidence, to increase understanding of how much easier tasks can be when there is a willingness to work cooperatively and together, to improve an understanding of the precious gift that God has given to us in this earth and the importance of caring for it. It was also a wonderful opportunity for the staff members to be able to show their care and concern for each of the young people in the expedition and to share with them the wonderful love that God has for each person.

Let’s go camping! I dare to suggest that our style of camping matters not. What does matter is that we take time to slow down, perhaps to actually stop long enough to ensure that our lives are properly centered.

Remember the 12 scouts who were sent to explore Canaan? Ten of the 12 allowed potential difficulties to blind them to God’s power to help and his promise to guide (see Numbers 13:25-29). Remember Samson? He was physically and emotionally exhausted, and after a great personal victory was filled with self pity. He lost his focus that it was God who gave him the strength to know victory (see Judges 15:18). Remember Eve? She lost her focus by listening to the serpent. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3 reminds us to keep our single-minded love for Christ. It is too easy to have our faith sidetracked, to lose focus by letting our life become overcrowded and confused.

Let’s go camping! It is time to be centered; to be focused. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

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