You Belong Here

Posted: June 21, 2022 in Uncategorized

I remember it like it was yesterday. I lost the job I had held for 16 years. Downsized they called it. It was okay, looking back I think I had outlived my usefulness, and it ended up being the right call for everyone. At the moment though, I was pretty scared. I had started to do some traveling ministry on the weekends and decided now that my schedule had opened up, I would try to make a go of being a full time speaker. Since Summer was approaching, one of the things that I did was contact every camp I could find in a five state radius. Several of them got back to me, including Delta Lake Bible Conference in Rome, New York. They had a senior adult program coming up and they gave me a shot.

Before I started the program, I was talking to the director. He was telling me about a wonderful program called Haven Camp for adults with developmental disabilities. I thought that sounded like it could be fun. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I said I would like to give it a try. They tried me out on one of their weekend camps. It changed my life. Oh I can’t say it was smooth sailing. The first night one of the campers said “The end” two minutes into my presentation and about every two minutes thereafter. I thought I was bombing but it turns out that is just something that guy does when he’s tired. I’ve ministered at Haven Camp at least one week every year (except 2020, Thanks COVID) since. It’s one of the most fulfilling things I do all year. I have grown to love these people and consider them my friends. I love spending time with them and I miss them when I’m not there.

This year they started a slogan. It’s very simple, but it says so much. “You belong here.” I love that. These campers are different from the rest of the world in some ways, and I’m sure a lot of people make them feel that way. The thing is for the most part, they’re really not all that different from you and me. They want to be accepted. They want to be loved. They want to belong. They find all of that at Haven Camp. I do too. I may be different from the campers, but they accept me. I belong there and I hope I will for many years to come. I love Haven Camp.

One more thing before I end this post. This camp is so successful (they’re been running it over 50 years) because of a wonderful staff. The directors do a fantastic job meeting every need and making the campers feel welcome and loved. They also have some of the most incredible young people working as counselors. Many of them are high school and college age, and I have to tell you, every time I am around them, they restore my faith in humanity. Caring for my friends can be hard work and they do it with a smile and with a tenderness and caring that is rare in our world. If you know someone who could benefit from being a camper, try to arrange to bring them to Haven Camp. I think they will find they belong here.

I know I do.

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