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January 12, 2010
By shinyhippo BRONZE, Houston, Texas
shinyhippo BRONZE, Houston, Texas
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

I walked up to my bus and boarded the vehicle that takes me to paradise every year. I sat next to my friend Noah as we waited for the eight hour drive that was about to ensue. The ride wound and turned through Texas and straight on through Arkansas to our destination of Mt. Ida. Normally a population of 945, this lucky town has the incomparable Camp Ozark, which holds about 2,500 excited campers, and energetic staff who flee to this haven each summer. My experiences at Camp Ozark have developed me as a person, as a leader, and as a Christian.

I arrived at the camp and felt at home with the hot air and a cool breeze rocking the tall pines. This place is my second home and I love every second of the two weeks I am there. After the cabin assignments were announced, I discovered that I only knew one other person in my cabin and that was Ivan who I had met during football in the summer. The other kids were very social and I met them pretty quickly as we walked with my new counselors Bowman and Thomas through the camp to our cabin. At our cabin, we walked up the stairs that led us to our wood home consisting of 7 bunk beds and a bathroom. We all set our things down and found our bunks and introduced ourselves to everyone and with that we headed to opening day games.

The camp is only two weeks long of a physical and spiritual demanding schedule that has given me some of the happiest moments in my life. The strength needed to keep going is never easy to have and it’s hard when you are tired. But when you rely on your faith in God to help you through the struggles, it always gives you the strength to do what is needed. My first year of camp, I was more physically challenged through the camp and exhausted. But through the years, I became stronger physically and spiritually and that was because of the camp.

One of the most memorable experiences that I have had there was to wake up at 5:00 am to “take a run around the camp,” explained my counselor. So a few of us ran about 2 miles to the front gate of the camp touched it and then started on our way back following our counselor tight in a pack of sweating teenagers. We twisted up the big hill behind what they call the Loft and saw a sign that said “THE CROSS” and had an arrow pointing up the mountain that is adjacent to the campgrounds. We gritted our teeth and we ran up the trail that turned and twisted through the trees and mountainside with no breaks. The trip up was brutal and my legs were on fire as if my whole body wanted to quit. But I rejected this request and I finished all the way to a clearing at the end of the trail. There silently a huge white cross that stood above everything as we looked out to see over all of Arkansas and to see all of God’s beautiful creation. Then, as we recovered up there, we all prayed together and to ourselves thinking how lucky we were to be there. I just thought about how lucky I was to be at a camp like that and how privilege I was to have the things I have.

Camp has shown me how to not be ashamed in what I am doing and to throw myself out there to be a leader. One of my favorite parts of camp is “Primetime”. It is a time where everyone sings and hears from speakers about God. Primetime has taught me so much like not worrying who is around you and not feeling too “cool” to sing. I learned that I should not be embarrassed in what I do. The speakers have really reached out and really have affected my life. The skits at Primetime are incomparable and really help you understand the things God has called for you to do. My favorite skit has been about accepting Jesus into your heart and your journey into heaven. That skit has stuck with me and I understand the importance of what every skit means. These two things have showed me that even when times get tough and I am just exhausted, taking the time to be with God is really important.

The camaraderie with all my previous cabins has been amazing at camp. I remember one of my favorite years there with my whole cabin sitting on the floor of our hot wooden cabin listening to “Let It Be” and singing at the top of our lungs. The friendships that have been started between my cabin mates I know will last for a long time. These friends of mine have brought me to be a better person and have given me someone to talk to who shares the same relationship with God.

Camp Ozark has taught me some great things about life and about how to be a man of God. I learned this from all the amazing counselors that I have had. These people sacrifice their summer to teach the campers and just show the presence of God inside of them every day. These things have gone on to help me in other areas such as Boy Scouts. I started Boy Scouts in the 5th grade and I had to really try hard to get where I am today. For my troop, I am now the Senior Patrol Leader, which is the boy leader for the whole troop, and I have to lead every single boy who is there at the meetings and campouts. I also have to plan and make decisions for the troop. This responsibility is a very hard one to maintain, but the help of my faith and my drive to succeed has allowed me to be a good leader.

The whole camp experience has showed me leadership qualities and the determination needed to be successful in whatever I aspire to do. I know now that a good relationship with Jesus Christ and a good attitude will get you somewhere and Camp Ozark has taught me how to do that.

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