In the last three blogs, I shared a fictional story of a father and his son. The son wanted to discover new and exciting things. The father started off skeptical but ended up discovering there was more to life than work. In this last blog, of this series, I will share with you what Northern Frontier Camp means to me.
In 1974, my mom and dad answered the call of Christ and became disciples of the King. They found a local church through a radio station my mom was listening to. The name of the church is Bellerose Baptist Church in New York City.
While my parents started to attend this church and my dad was asked to help out in Christian Service Brigade. He enjoyed working with the boys. Sharing bible stories, making things out of wood and going camping.
I wanted to spend time with my dad, so from as far back as I can remember, I asked my dad if I could go with him. On occasion, he would allow me to do the overnight camp out with them, but wouldn’t allow me to attend until the appropriate age of eight.
When I turned eight, I enjoyed spending time with other boys doing the things I had seen the other boys do. Week after week, during the bible story time, I heard the message of Jesus. I heard that Jesus loves me, that He died and rose again for me, but no matter how many times I heard this, my heart was just not into that “bible stuff”. When an invitation to accept Christ came, I would raise my hand time after time.
My dad, being a wise man, told me that accepting Christ as Savior is a one time event. So if I accepted Christ once, then that was all that was needed. Being a hard-headed kid from NYC, I didn’t get it.
In the summer of 1979, my mom and dad asked me if I wanted to go to camp. It sounded like a lot of fun so I agreed. They paid for me to go to this camp called Northern Frontier Camp. It was an all boys camp that had been started through the founder of Christian Service Brigade.
My parents dropped me off at a location, where a charter bus would take us to camp. After six hours of traveling north, we arrived at the entrance. Then after getting off the charter bus, an old diesel school bus would then take us the rest of the way. The best part of the bus rides was the 3 mile off-road trip through the woods. We would bounce around and laugh because this was no where like the city.
Year after year, I would go there for a week, have fun and enjoy every activity they provided. From air rifle and archery to hiking and swimming, I enjoyed every summer there.
At night, we would have a camp fire where we would sing fun songs, do crazy acting out, see skits and finally listen to a message. For the first couple of years, I would once again raise my hand to accept Christ. (I told you I didn’t get it.) I would then return home just for my parents to explain once again, that if I was a Christian, I didn’t need to do this year after year.
In one of those years, it had rained and we were listening to a special camp fire skit. I remember it distinctly. There was a few large sheets hung up that were separated by a pole. A young man would come up and make believe he was knocking on the door. The first young man said that he was good enough to enter because he didn’t lie or steal. The voice on the other side said, “Walk through the left door”. Almost immediately, he would enter through the left door and then scream in fear.
The second young man said, “I am good enough because I helped an old lady across the street, attended church and even went to Christian Service Brigade”. The voice on the other side said, “Walk through the left door”. Again, he walked through and screamed.
Finally, a different young man came forward, knocked and said, “I am not good enough, but I know Jesus.” He was allowed to enter the right door, where there was praise and worship. I was scared beyond what I knew possible. I feared hell. I feared being lost forever. I was just plain scared of life. That night, when the opportunity came, I yet again asked Jesus into my heart. However, I did it out of fear rather than need.
Over the next year, my sister had a dream and was terrified. She told me that she dreamed I was in a dark place, hurting and screaming. As young as we were, she begged me to accept Christ as my Savior. I brushed her off, forgetting what I had just experienced months prior.
That summer, I went back to Northern Frontier Camp. One night there was a campfire and someone gave the message of hope through Christ. (Sound familiar?) However, this night was different. It wasn’t the weather or the lake. It wasn’t the campfire. It was me. I knew something was wrong. Something made me feel uncomfortable.
When the speaker finished his message, he asked anyone who wanted to know more, to stay back. I decided to stay and asked some questions. The counselor asked me if I wanted to accept Christ and I acknowledged that I needed Christ. He led me in prayer, but this time there was no fear. There was no normal night. My emotions overwhelmed me. I couldn’t hold back. I wept and wept. I asked Jesus to take over my life and He did with a vengeance. It was at this moment in time that I knew I no longer needed to ask, because Jesus was there.
When I got home, I told my parents about my experience, but they didn’t believe me. It wasn’t until they saw me witnessing to my friends that they understood that the experience I had that summer was different, very different.
Northern Frontier Camp has a special place in my heart. I went there for almost a decade, have spent time with my father and sons there. Every time I go, I learn more and more. This camp allows me to go out of my comfort zone and experience the love of God in a different way every time.
If you are a dad or want your son to experience God in a whole new way, I encourage you to check out http://www.northernfrontier.org. Make time to spend a few days with your son in the wilderness where there are no distractions, only you, your son and God. Because boys won’t just be boys. Because boys will become men someday.