Summer after summer, the campers, counselors, and staff who experience Camp Arcadia teen weeks are impacted for a lifetime. This past summer, Baptism played a surprising, but welcomed role. During the Omega Teen Week, led by Rev. Bill Yonker, God chose to claim a camper as His own through Baptism. Pastor Yonker recalls, “how were we to know God had a surprise up His sleeve?”
The centrality of Baptism is special at Camp Arcadia. The geography certainly explains the water imagery used in so many songs, prayers, and liturgies at Camp, but Baptism is more than just symbolism. In Baptism, water and God’s Word are the means through which the Holy Spirit works to give faith and to bring us into God’s family.
Every summer, Arcadia campers are drawn together by water, Word, and Christian community. During Family Weeks, our spirits are renewed when the children go to the lake and bring forward water to fill the Baptismal font. We embrace our friends and family as we remember our Baptism at Arcadia closing worship. Baptism language forms many of the most enduring moments of our Camp experience.
Teen Weeks are no exception.
Lexi came to Camp stuck in old habits. “I was closed off to my group, a truly broken individual,” she recalls. Through the week, because of God at work through people like Pastor Bill Yonker and adult counselors like Shelly Gallo and embodied in the loving community of teen campers, Lexi was led to be baptized.
“What a precious thing to be with Lexi as she began to learn that she could be baptized at camp,” Shelly shares. “This precious girl began to cry as she asked if God would accept her even though she knew only a little about Him. Her humility and the sincerity [with which] she regarded Baptism illustrated how important this step was in her faith walk.”
Lexi explains that there is “no other place” where she would want to be baptized than at Camp Arcadia, where she feels the love and compassion of Christian community so clearly at work. “If this isn’t [why] so many people hold RKD close to their hearts and count down the days until they can return then I don’t know what is.”
Lexi closed out the 2015 season as an end-of-season staff member. It’s been a growing experience for her to learn to serve and give of herself through this work. She didn’t expect to enjoy it. “My motivation to serve others is not something I quite understand,” Lexi explains, “it’s just the way things work with God at Camp Arcadia and I love it.”
Pastor Bill Yonker continues to give thanks for Lexi’s faith, “Lexi was a wonderful part of our community. As she was baptized, we became aware that she was not only a part of our community, but God wanted to bring her into His family the family of believers in Jesus. And so He did.”