White Lake bug
Updated: Apr 19, 2019
I first came to be a counselor at White Lake Covenanter camp in 2008. It was right after my very first RP international conference. I was so excited to be there because it was something that I knew I could be really good at. And as a “new blood,” I was pumped to get more involved with the RP church and its missions. At that time the camp had recently changed over camp directors and was struggling to get back on track and find a groove but there was a solid crew of seasoned volunteer counselors who had come up through the ranks as campers and knew everything there was to know. It didn’t take long for me to become part of the White Lake family and feel like I had lived each and every one of the old stories, and to take ownership of this little camp that just kept going. At that point, I had been on a number of different missions trips but this one stood out in a special way because of the odd, almost paradoxical mixing of intense spiritual growth and goofy fun. It fit me like a glove and I knew right away that I was coming back the next year. I’d been bitten by the White Lake bug.
Well, it’s now 2017, heading into another camp season. This past summer I celebrated my 10th year of being on the counseling staff and was Young People’s President for the 100th family camp. Serving over such a long chunk of time has given me the unique experience to able to look over the ministry of the past ten years, to watch little 7- and 8-year-olds come up through the ranks to graduate into the upper cabins, and even become counselors themselves. To watch them grow and learn to love Christ, or to watch the Holy Spirit grab hold of a kid that you had given up hope on, or see a kid you thought was golden fade away into the world -- these have been humbling and joyous. If my summers spent at White Lake have taught me anything -- which of course they have, more than I can say -- it has taught me to not assume you know what God is doing in the lives of people but to work diligently in the fields, planting, nurturing and harvesting. There’s so much hard work to be done at White Lake Camp and there are many ways to serve: helping with maintenance of the camp facilities, being a rep for your church on the board, working in the kitchen, being elected a young people’s officer, volunteering as a teacher for family camp, and lastly but not least volunteering your time to be a counselor.
I have a served in many of these capacities through my time at camp, but it always comes back to being a counselor for me. It’s the beating, aching, heart of the ministry, the everyday living and interactions of camp life, playing frisbee, cabin devotions, discussion groups and staff relationships. But being a counselor at White Lake is not for the faint of heart. The experience demands everything from you. It just depends on your mindset to determines whether that’s a good, or a bad thing. You have to be willing to give up your control over things like schedule, over people -- and anyone who has ever worked with kids knows that “control” means "contained chaos." You have to be willing to give up comfort, as a counselor you spend most of your time in a deeply sleep deprived state and on the edge of a cold because you’re staying up late into the night, having discussions during cabin devotions or praying with a teammate that is going through something, then getting up early in the morning to meet with the team and start the day with prayer and Bible reading. You have to let go of your fears and insecurities by sharing your testimony and make the transition from being led to leading. You have to put your personal feelings aside and live and breathe yourself into the team, who strives daily to reflect Christ and the unity of the church. I suppose you could look at it as intimidating or you could see it for what it really is, a chance to be challenged and grow, and see the amazing fruit that goes along with the willingness to put yourself aside and serve others in the Kingdom of God. Anyone who has served as a counselor at White Lake will tell you that it could be the hardest short term missions trip you might experience but it is also the most rewarding and “growth-inducing” one too! It’s impossible to convey the joy of seeing a camper have a spiritual breakthrough or to watch them move from the sidelines into the action of leadership -- loving and living Christ. The Lord has blessed the ministry of White Lake so richly, sending servants every year to pass the torch along down to the next set of seasoned counselors. Are you ready to rise to the challenge of the hilltop? Come join the White Lake family.
- Anastasia Finch, Counselor, Young People’s Pres. 2017, self-proclaimed "Window fixer, etc, etc, etc..."