Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening at our Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Back to the Future is more than the name of a 1980’s movie trilogy. This past June over one hundred CLC young people entering grades 6-9 gathered on the picturesque campus of Immanuel Lutheran College for the summer camp that is held there biennially. This camp is well described as a week in the Word of God, fellowship time with one another, and team-building exercises to bond with fellow Christian friends, combined with entertaining activities and a few surprises.
In their first year as the new directors, cousins Joci Gamble and Jonathan Gamble kept the great elements of camp alive while adding a new style of leadership and direction. They were assisted by their peers, who gave their time and energy to volunteer as counselors, along with others serving as helpers in the kitchen and in other areas.
The camp theme, “Back to the Future,” had in mind the Reformation that took place five hundred years ago this year. As part of the daily camp lessons, the children looked to the Word of God to consider some essential truths that the Lord unshackled during the Reformation. The central teaching that we are “justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ” stood dominant, and on that basis Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia were given three days of lesson attention. The final two days of camp focused on the amazing blessings of the priesthood of all believers and on the biblical fact that “God is love.” The camp’s Bible instruction also went “back” to see that these teachings of Scripture stretch back more than five hundred years; they have been taught throughout the Bible’s history from the beginning, and the Lord continues to preserve these teachings into the future.
A typical day at camp moved along to a familiar, enjoyable rhythm. After early morning calisthenics and breakfast, the campers began with a devotion in the gym, after which they broke into smaller classes for the hour-long Bible studies mentioned above. The late morning hours were spent in a variety of activities, like whiffle ball, baking bread, intensive 1980’s workout, sidewalk art, kite flying, and others. After lunch it was Ultimate Team Competition time, with the campers divided into teams lead by a counselor and engaged in events that even included catapult launching and water war flag capturing. Afternoon activities also involved, if weather permitted, swimming at the local Fairfax swimming pool. Activities after supper included music and a featured nightly activity. These ranged from Bunco or Camp Jeopardy to a fan favorite “Huge Ball,” which is an amusing type of dodge ball. Thursday evening had the highlight of an evening worship service in the ILC gym.
All who participated, adults and children alike, can look back on that week with thankfulness to the Lord for the opportunity to gather together and grow in His grace and blessing. We can all look back and rejoice that the same Lord, Who unleashed the Gospel over five hundred years ago, continues to preserve it for us now and into the future.
Matthew Hanel is pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas, and a member of the CLC Board of Missions.