God continues to do amazing things at Camp Arcadia; God continues to touch hearts and change lives at Camp Arcadia. For many of you this seems like a terrific understatement, but I mean it most sincerely. Evidence is offered by reflecting on a Baptism performed during the Omega Teen Week last summer.
Chandler Owen had come to Camp Arcadia at the invitation of two of her high school friends, Jennifer and Hannah. Traditionally, summer camp is a great time for friends to get together, meet new friends and enjoy the freedom of summer outdoors. But at this Christian camp, surrounded by Christian friends, the discussions and Bible studies surprised Chandler as she started wrestling with questions about her faith and her commitment to a Christian life.
Of course the Arcadia Teen Weeks (Alpha and Omega) are full of surprises every year, but I still was stunned when Tim Tiemann, one of our counselors, approached me after the Friday evening Eucharist with joyous evidence that the Holy Spirit was active. Chandler, who was in his group, made a simple proclamation, “I’d like to be baptized. Can we do it tonight”?
Chandler would be entering her senior year of high school and although she was “almost grown” I felt it absolutely necessary for a parent to OK her decision. After trying numerous times to reach her mom or her dad, Chandler suggested we call her grandma who lives very close to her. Her grandma not only answered the phone, she heartily and readily agreed to Chandler being baptized. I was cautious and suggested I still should talk to a parent when Chandler’s grandma firmly assured me neither parent would question the grandma’s authority on this issue, and that was that.
Gathering the whole community of Omega Week campers on the patio, Chandler’s two friends, (both confirmed in their own Lutheran church — one of them is a LCMS pastor’s daughter) agreed to be sponsors along with Tim Tiemann. Camp Arcadia’s executive director, Chip May, held the bowl of water as Chandler Renee Owen was baptized into the family of believers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She was surrounded on three sides at 10 P.M. by all of her fellow campers with Lake Michigan and yours truly standing in front of her. It truly was amazing!
Yep, saying Camp Arcadia continues to be a place of amazing happenings sure sounds like an understatement. So many of us who love Camp Arcadia, have had our hearts and lives touched by God there and even consider it a second home, have been convinced over and over by the blessings God chooses to do there. I just thought I’d add one more testimony and give a reminder that God hasn’t stopped doing amazing things and He hasn’t stopped doing them at Camp Arcadia–just ask any of the over 160 people who witnessed Chandler Renee Owen’s baptism last summer.
Yours in Jesus’ love,
Pastor Bill Yonker
Rev. Bill Yonker is Senior Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church of East Dundee, IL and has served as dean of the Omega Teen Week for years.