When Camp Timberline directors plan “staff training,” or “Work Week,” they are really planning adult overnight camp. On May 24, 2016, over one hundred energetic, quirky, joyful college students that are deeply in love with the Lord - and were handpicked by Him for their positions - showed up to undergo summer camp “training,” which, to Camp T, means eleven days of worship, work projects, and wonderful community. This is all meant to reach what is most important to Christ: 120 hearts that belong to Him.
In the morning, after breakfast, personal devotionals, and Bible study in designated groups, the staff is split up into their scheduled activity, whether it’s mandatory Wilderness First Aid certification, training for their specific job category, or a work project. In the evenings, they worship, spend time together, listen to guest speakers, or keep working as the joyful hands of Christ.
Most days of Work Week, the Mountain Adventure crew - the brave souls that stand on very high things and strap kids onto those very high things - goes through specific training on the adventure elements that Camp Timberline provides, including a ropes course, the Gut Check (a swing that is true to its name), the zip line, and the Silencer (yet another swing with an appropriate christening). These members of staff are trained through wind, snow (and more snow), rain, and sunshine to be the backbone of safety for the adventure elements of Camp Timberline (a sport and adventure camp). The Day Camp crew - the program that meets other communities where they are - get together and discuss how they are going to impact and love churches and kids for Christ, as well as how they are going to bring the joy and excitement about Christ outside the bounds of the traditional resident camp. The T-Crew, or kitchen staff, already start serving the first day of training; and the Beyond Timberline crew (the few chosen to lead kids backpacking and camping through the mountains) prepare their hearts and minds for what is to come in the wilderness, whatever it may be. Every person at camp experiences the types of things their campers will go through at the resident camp, and every person at camp engages in work projects - the manual labor that is required to get camp ready for the summer. Work projects can include anything from changing lightbulbs, staining the Lodge deck, organizing the store, lining the roads with rocks, digging new property paths, hauling away dead trees to taking inventory of every piece of sports equipment on the property. Everything is important, and it is incredible the way that the staff carries out absolutely every task with a joyful spirit of servitude.
On special thing about Camp Timberline’s Work Week is that every single staff members’ training goes deeper than work projects, than Wilderness First Aid, than Mountain Adventure, than food preparation. This type of training is important and sufficiently prepares 120 minds, but God goes farther and uses Camp Timberline to exceptionally prepare 120 hearts. Camp T creates a community that is impactful and overwhelming from even before Work Week starts. Staff are collected into Covenant Groups, each of which include a handful of same-gendered individuals and cabin-mates that build each other up, call each other out, pray for one another, and carry each other’s burdens through nothing but the love of Christ. Every year, Incredible community is created through time spent with “Cov” Groups and time spent together. From work projects to difficult team tasks designed to test how many hearts a spirit of encouragement really reaches (hint: every single one) work week develops a culture of encouragement. By the end of eleven days together, toiling, praying, singing, playing, encouraging, sweating, loving, crying and laughing, laughing, laughing, every heart has been touched by one another and changed by Christ. It’s an amazing sight, an incredible transformation, an insane experience.
Work Week at Camp Timberline is not just staff training for an overnight camp in the mountains that will be attended by a bunch of kids counseled by a group of energetic college students and forgotten after it’s over. Work Week at Camp Timberline is eleven days that God - who is way outside of time and deep inside the hearts of His people - uses to refine and prepare a place that is like no other with people who like no other individually because of Christ. Work Week changes lives, because not only does every moment have a profound effect on every staff member involved those eleven days, but it also has a profound effect on every soul - every kid, every parent, everyone who hears about it secondhand and thirdhand--every summer. Work Week is staff training, but it is also mind-altering, heart-changing, soul-touching worship--from the beginning of the week - to the One who has made all the seemingly - impossible things possible from the beginning of time.
- Olivia Parvin | Summer Staff 2016