By Christa Inouye, former Youth Outreach staff member
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” - Romans 12:2, NLT
While transformation in Christ happens throughout a lifetime, UGM Camp provides an avenue for young people to experience significant change through the new experiences, deep relationships and thoughtful reflection time.
Judy, Emily and Annety
Judy, a first-time cabin leader, said the best part of her experience at UGM Camp was having the “privilege of watching the transformation over the five days.”
Emily, 12, and Annety, 11, arrived at camp unsure of themselves and their surroundings. Judy wondered how their more reserved personalities would get along with the more boisterous girls in the cabin. While Emily and Annety knew some of the girls in their cabin, camp was the first week they’d all closely interacted with one another.
Judy was surprised by the girls’ reaction to Emily and Annety: “It was a perfect setup for a bullying situation, but that didn’t happen. They just extended love and acceptance to them. They are like different girls then they were on Monday.”
Emily and Annety hesitated to participate in some of the activities, especially worrying about the tube float on the Spokane River because neither one of them knew how to swim well. However, after some encouragement from their cabin, they bravely chose to join them in the river.
Even Judy, who grew up around rivers, had a little panic as the two girls clung to her tube the whole way down.
But, “I’m glad I did it...This week has been huge in their lives. I think they are going to look back at it.”
The tube float ended up being Emily’s favorite part of the week: “It was really awesome... Some people could swim, but you have to have a life jacket. It was fun.”
The week was full of firsts for both girls. They mentioned learning how to canoe, playing the big group games, and accomplishing different puzzles on the challenge course. In chapel, Annety learned for the very first time the good news about Jesus.
“I learned that we all have sin...you almost have it in you every single day...sometimes you can pray to Jesus because he is the one that went on the cross for all the Christians.”
Emily added that after camp, she was going to share this news about Jesus with her brothers and sisters, who also have never heard the gospel.
Kaylee and Rita
Kaylee, the girls’ other cabin leader, says the transformation isn’t just for her campers: “Every year I’m always floored by how much my faith grows too. And just hearing the gospel afresh...I’ve heard it before, but every year I feel like I need it.”
It was Rita’s second summer at UGM Camp. Kaylee was encouraged watching Rita grow in her faith from one year to the next. During one of their cabin times, they read a book together talking about God’s perfection and how only Jesus meets that standard of perfection. In front of all her friends, Rita asked how she could follow Jesus.
Rita’s relationship with Jesus has been a process: “We came from Russia, and we were immigrants. I came here when I was three years old...My mom was in college and we didn’t have time to go to church or anything. But now, we successfully go to church!”
They’ve been going to church regularly since early this year. While Rita had previously heard the gospel, some questions she had were cleared up this summer: “I always thought that if I sinned less, then I would get to go to heaven, but then I learned more about like Jesus...You are God’s enemy unless you give yourself to Jesus because Jesus died for you. I kept wondering how to do that...You have to feel it in your heart, or you can say a prayer.” That prayer is “for Jesus to be with you.”
Despite the brevity of the week at UGM Camp, God is still at work transforming young hearts. Step by step, the girls are becoming more courageous, honest, and loving, the way their heavenly Father created them to be.
Even though UGM Camp is over for this summer, your prayers for our campers are still appreciated as they return to day-to-day life and continue to develop relationships in the churches that conducted their camps. You can even get involved in Youth Outreach during the school year by clicking below!