Alaska Campers Experience Jesus Amid Challenges
Tears, laughter, songs and activities mixed with a host of children at this summer’s Alaska Camps.
More than 150 children experienced the joy of summer camp at Camp Tuk near Flat Lake (June 22–July 6), Camp Polaris near Dillingham (July 13–20) and Camp Lorraine on Vank Island (Aug. 3–10).
Many campers return year after year to these special places. One who did not return this year to Camp Polaris was Kinka Active, who passed away recently. Camp staff joined Active’s siblings in tears of remembrance of the girl who at the camp had learned to play the guitar and challenge the cold waters of Lake Aleknagik. But the lesson for all was in remembering she had given her life to Jesus at Camp Polaris. There were tears but also a reminder that the camp stands for a bright and eternal future for every young person in attendance.
On Sabbath, while campers and staff were on a hike, a large rock fell, damaging a staff member’s leg. This type of injury can be a problem in remote areas. It is extremely important to activate emergency services early when in the bush. It takes about one and a half hours to get services. There is the phone call (a challenge in itself), the drive to the landing, the boat trip across the lake, retrieving the victim, the boat ride back, and the ambulance from the landing to the hospital, which all must happen before things get worse.
While emergency services were on the way, a cold front moved in with high winds, which created 6- to 8-foot waves on the lake, making travel difficult for the EMTs. One of the smaller campers began to experience the beginning stages of hypothermia. When emergency services arrived they determined that it would be better if camp staff carried the injured member off the mountain. The staff did a fantastic job. Everyone did what they were told, and each was brought to safety.
God sustained everyone through all this activity. No lasting damage was done, and both staff and campers gained respect for each other and a lot of memories of pulling together to struggle through challenges.
Alaska can be a challenging environment at the best of times. But challenges teach character, and that is part of the mission during these camp experiences. It wasn’t all fun and games this summer. Everyone experienced Jesus on a whole new level, and isn’t that what camp is all about?