Archive for the ‘camp’ Category

At camp a few weeks ago our whole group learned the armor of God verses from Ephesians 6.  As a counselor, I was working with the junior high girls to learn and understand their verses.  (Praise for teamwork; other people were on the job, too, including the ‘Bible hour’ teacher and some of the other staff and counselors.)  The language of the Bible is sometimes more grammatically complex than everyday usage, so breaking the verses down phrase by phrase and discussing the meaning can help the kids keep the verses in their heads and hearts, as well as legitimizing their inflection.   So I was helping one of the girls with verse 17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” and started explaining the sword of the spirit part.  I don’t even remember what I told her, but I know that since that day I have been trying to figure out what it means. 
A few questions:
How significant is the comma after “salvation”?  Since “take” is not repeated, are we to equate the term “helmet of salvation” with the term “sword of the spirit”?  Or is there any way to “take” one without the other? 
Does the sword belong to the spirit, depend on the spirit, or consist of the spirit?  Cross references usually lead to Hebrews 4:12, whose subject is also the word of God, which seems to cut things, including soul from spirit.  But the Greek for “word” is different in Ephesians from Hebrews. 
Back from camp, catching up with a friend, she reported that her small group is going through Ephesians, and that one of the teachers was excited to get to the armor of God and the sword Jesus uses to kill the wicked.  (See Revelation 19:15, 21)  Is that the image here?  Earlier in Revelation the sword seemed to be more of a tool for discipline, discerning the spirits of the churches.  The Revelation sword proceeds from the mouth of Jesus. 
Is spirit supposed to be capitalized?  Are we talking about the Holy Spirit, my spirit, or things spiritual?  Or should the sword be used against the spirit? 
When Paul says, “which is the word of God,” is the antecedent the sword or the spirit? 
I looked up the Greek for this verse.  My use for Greek extends to definitions, but I’m helpless when I come to grammar and tenses.  But I did notice that the Greek for “word” is an utterance, not something written (in the Greek, rhema).  Usually I hear teachers explaining the sword of the spirit and (ignoring that little phrase, ‘of the spirit’) holding a Bible above their heads telling their students that they have to know the word of God, and to study it, to use it like Jesus did when he was tempted in the wilderness.  Except the next thing teachers say is that the sword is the offensive weapon in the armor list (some add prayer, from verse 18).  I don’t see how resisting temptation is an offensive act in the spiritual war we’re fighting. 
So what is “word of God”?  Are we talking about words God has spoken, or words God is speaking?  Ephesians 6:19 includes Paul’s prayer request that words (different Greek than verse 17: here it is logos) be given him.  Given him?  By whom?  Whose words are they if they were given?  What did Paul want to do with words?  This is one of the first times in this whole article where the biblical context answers the question, because Paul says he wants to use the words to preach the gospel boldly (which seems rather offensive). 
Finally, verse 18, about prayer, rather than being a new sentence, is presented as a continuation of the thought in verse 17.  But what does prayer have to do with the “word of God” or “sword of the spirit”? 
How exactly ought we to apply this verse, then? 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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One practical thing I learned at Camp is how to make s’mores without a fire.  Since I got home I’ve tried it twice, mastered the recipe, and decided to share it with you. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. 
  2. Tear off strips of aluminum foil about twice as wide as a graham cracker square. 
  3. Put two graham cracker squares side by side on each strip. 
  4. Add enough milk chocolate (Hershey’s bars) to mostly cover one graham cracker square. 
  5. Put a large marshmallow on top of the chocolate. 
  6. Finish the sandwich by placing the other graham cracker square on top of the marshmallow. 
  7. Fold over the foil and roll the edges together so the s’more is completely enclosed. 
  8. Place a bunch on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until marshmallow is soft enough to squish. 
  9. Remove from oven and off of pan.  Open to cool for a few minutes before eating. 
  10. Enjoy. 


To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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There is a game which I have never played, but for which I am an excellent cheerleader with approximately two games’ experience. Often I get it confused with Frisbee Golf, which is considerably more difficult. It is called Ultimate Frisbee. Those who practice this game have some nice moves and are excellent athletes. Amateurs can apparently have fun. Rules are not difficult to learn. By the end of the first game I watched, I had grasped the majority.

The object (about now you’re wondering what this has to do with an octopus, but let me tell this in my own good time) of the game is to throw the Frisbee across your goal to a teammate who must catch it behind the goal. In fact catching is pretty important in this game. If you drop the Frisbee, the other team receives possession. In sports this is called a turn over. (If my audience was less male, it would be impressed.) If the other team catches a Frisbee, this interception is also a turn over. When you have the Frisbee, your feet cannot move. You must throw it. The idea is to transfer the Frisbee to one of your teammates, but there is no additional penalty if you fail, beyond a turnover. Defense is to discourage the player with the Frisbee from throwing it to the player nearest you. If they do, make the player fail in his attempt to catch it, or catch it yourself. Remember this.

In Awana there are three or four teams playing the standard games. Teams are laid out on a square or triangle surrounding a circle. As a Game Director for Awana last year, I appreciate the hilarious fun of turning a two-team game into one for three or four teams. Such was also the adventure the Game Directors at Camp undertook with their version of Ultimate Frisbee. At Camp there are three teams (unless Purple wants to play, but they are usually busy photographing, making rules, and tending sprains and scrapes). So the wonderful invention was a triangular field for Ultimate Frisbee, in which each team’s goal was one cut-off corner of the triangle. In case of a dropped “Frisbee,” possession advanced to the next team in a cycle of three, which got a little confusing and I’m not sure – perhaps dishonest. It was definitely a possibility.

As amazing an innovation as turning this simple game into a three-sided carnival was compounded by the substitution of a real dead Octopus for a Frisbee. Let’s review rules. No kicking. No batting. No one person moving the object down the field in their hands. Generally a Frisbee glides gracefully through the air over heads to the next player, occasionally sent off course by a gentle breeze. With an Octopus, its rather different. It is hurled from one player to another, draping tentacles and slimy arms over heads, and covering the face and shoulders of any player unfortunate enough to catch the beast.

I was a junior high counselor at camp. A girl counselor for girl campers. In general girls don’t like dead things, or slimy, or fishy, or smelly. For example, several girls upon finding an Octopus in their hands stood there, staring at the blob, and screaming. They did not throw the mess into the air like a hot potato, or drop it on the ground and run. I think there is a poison in Octopus that takes away rational escape instinct. There was one of my girls who, while she may feel that way, had no trouble setting aside her doubts and attempting to win the game. One of my girls was more hesitant. And the third of my girls did not want to touch the Octopus. A responsibility of being a counselor is to encourage campers to participate in games. Apparently the tactic employed by my male co-counselors was to excel at the game and occasionally allow campers to participate. Don’t get me wrong. To a certain extent this is highly effective. Once proven that Octopus guts do not kill you if you touch them, campers are bolder to try. I had a different gift in encouraging kids to participate. It involved corralling, coaching, and taking them literally by the hand with the reassuring comment, “I don’t want to touch it either. We won’t have to. We’ll play defense.”

Here’s what you do. It is sort of like meeting an angry grizzly bear in a forest. You stand up tall and make yourself as big as possible by waving your arms. In this way you intercept sight lines between team players and you give the impression that whoever is behind you is off limits. An important thing to remember is position. You want to be between the possessor of the *deep breath* Octopus and their teammates or goal. You cannot stand far from the goal. One danger in playing defense is that if the possessor of the Octopus happens to, in spite of all your deterrence, throw the Octopus your way, you might get hit. You might have to move. I recommend moving.

So the game was going great and I had dragged my more reluctant clubbers into a defensive position when the Game Directors changed the rules. Girls got to sit out for a while. Watching, I had to observe that the campers had the hang of the game, and most of them were reluctantly becoming willing to handle the Octopus. But counselors, who in most cases were ten times faster and ten inches taller than campers, were monopolizing the game. Interrupting his enthusiastic refereeing of the game, I pointed this out to a Game Director. At which point the game changed and I rescued myself from further participation. See how smart I am?

By the time only girls were participating in this unique game, all but two or three of those in my charge were eagerly chasing and tossing the Octopus. Still my defensive buddy seemed to have forgotten the importance of position. She wandered in the middle of the field, distant from the action. There’s something to be said for staying far away from the horrible stench of dead Octopus. When you are out of the crowd, though, you are much more vulnerable to detection. In a few years she’ll learn to blend in a little. This year, the Game Director caught her. He had located a wayward bit of Octopus limb, and stuffed it into her hand. Again, the paralyzing of escape instincts took over, and she merely stared at the mushy tissue in her hand. Then she threw it down and ran towards the game, all fear surrendered.

And so my job was accomplished with help from the Game Director, with whom I was prepared to be quite indignant if there were bad results from his tortuous methods. He is a devious man, who will not disappoint in driving you to desperate things. His next move was to call for “only counselors” to play the horrific game, Ultimate Octopus.

You have to understand. There were only four on each team, and the field was huge. We were playing against fast people, real athletes, aggressive people. And I can usually catch, but I can’t throw. Not when surrounded by people. Not some soft, stringy object. But mere defense was no longer an option. Fortunately I’d already mastered a plan for defense when the other team had the Octopus. (Actually to be quite honest, another team, Green, swelled their ranks with high school counselors who were supposed to be elsewhere, and so in the counselor score, Red looked rather bad.) When we had possession, though, we had to score. I postured for the Octopus, trying to communicate that I was open and hesitantly willing. I’m sure my body language was like raising your hand but with a mostly bent elbow, so that if the teacher doesn’t really want to think you have something to say, she doesn’t have to call on you. Then it happened.

My teammates (I did not pay sufficient attention to which teammate that I could futurely attack him/her) threw me the Octopus. And I touched it. I caught it. And I threw it to another teammate, who didn’t catch it because actually I threw it in the direction of all sorts of counselors and caused a turnover in their favor. To be quite honest, at this stage the Octopus had been dropped enough that the only substance actually touching my skin was dirt. But I was brave, and so unsuccessful in my possession that I rid myself of the need to ever touch it again.

The end.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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One of my friends said that at camp she learned “change isn’t bad.” 

I’m a completely different person since camp. 

I had friends praying that I would be more outgoing and enthusiastic at camp.  God answered abundantly, and I could only sit back and marvel. 

But the change is going to be permanent.  I’m not saying I’ll be good at volleyball, or that I’ll cut my hair.  But my toenails are red.  On a serious note I’m looking at changing all the major points of my life, so be warned.  I’m talking to God a lot about it, and mostly my prayers sound like “I don’t know.”  God knows, and He’ll clue me in on time. 

Sunday I played soccer with friends from church.  Tuesday I got up and ran.  Confession: I predicted I would make it about two minutes.  That was literal, but apparently my brother didn’t expect me to really only make it two minutes.  So I’m going to get into shape.  And I ate a granola bar for the first time ever.  I also decided I like spaghetti. 

One other thing different is that I’m on camp schedule, which besides including eating breakfast and lots of prayer and Bible reading, also means bed time is at 10:30, which is almost now.  Good night.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve now told this story at least five times, so maybe I can write it. 

At camp there is a square around a flag pole.  Before each meal we gather at the square, and each team has a line.  No one enters the square without permission from the square master.  This is a well-guarded tradition.  At no time during camp is the square to be violated.  Even during free time when no square master is present, people walk around the square. 

On Wednesday night, precisely one week ago, the staff fed the counselors ice cream sundaes and got us hyper on funny stories.  Then they sent us out into the black night, with the square between us and our cabins.  The counselors for the boys took off in one of the staff golf carts, shortening their walk. 

And the counselors for the junior high girls, six of us: two from each of the teams, joined hands and stepped toward the square.  And a voice behind us startled us.  “What are you doing?” 

It was just a counselor, left behind by the golf cart crowd.  We invited him to join us, and he did, but mostly just on an observation mission.  We took a step.  We took happy steps.  Into the middle of the square went our six-counselor team.  And in the center we made a circle and played ring around the rosies. 

All fall down.  “Your light is on.  They’ll see you.  Your light is on!”  The counselor escorting us silly girls observed that my lantern had indeed turned on as we fell.  We were all laughing hard, and my eyes were closed, but first I turned it brighter and then got it off.  And we finished the run across the square, parted with our escort, and returned to our cabin. 

At which point we told stories, laughed, and formed a confidence support group.  All of us had been such good campers and we were so good that few of us had ever violated the square.  As penance we thought we maybe ought to return the golf cart the guys stole.  Or we could return it decorated.  Or… 

We were blessed with a scathingly brilliant idea.  We could fetch the golf cart and leave it in the square for the following morning. 

After some deliberation about whether we would be allowed to be counselors ever again, and deciding who ought to drive and whether we could leave our cabin, half of us stayed with the slumbering junior high girls and the other half found the golf cart.  And almost drove it into the gazebo and then the flag pole, but we didn’t.  We parked it right inside the square and ducked under the cover of our cabins for the night. 

It was the best adventure.  We the support group of the ring around the rosies and golf carts definitely bonded, and all miss each other very much since we left camp on Saturday. 

To God be all glory…

… so I don’t even feel guilty about relocating a golf cart.  In case you wanted to know. 

Lisa of Longbourn

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After Camp

I’m home from Rocky Mountain Honors Camp.  God’s work wasn’t as smashing and poetic as last year, but I am suspecting it may have more lasting impact.  So I’ll write about the week later. 
Meanwhile, I am dreadfully behind in my reading, and though I feel desperately the absence of my friends from camp, I think what I need more is my God.  So I’m going to read the Bible and talk to Him a bit.  Maybe outside.  I’ll turn into a camper yet. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I will be away until July 5.  Comment moderation is enabled.  Any comments – you are encouraged to leave many – will appear after that. 
Have a happy Independence Day in the USA. 
I’ll be attending Rocky Mountain Honors Camp as a counselor again.  Read my series from last year here: Lisa of Longbourn: Camp
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Camp Mail

It is a camp tradition to focus most pranks on the mail system. (There was a bit of fun had with the cabin clean-up, pushing bunks against doors and crawling out the window; or emptying even the mirrors, mattresses, and shelves along with suitcases, etc. out of the room entirely.) If you got a package, or enough letters, you had to sing for it. If you got a postcard, they read it out loud. If something was written on the outside of an envelope, that got read, too. Then there was always the question of what was inside the letters and packages.

One year I sent twenty-four letters in a box to a friend whose birthday was during the week of camp, one for every hour. The same friend received seven random letters from denture ads to a page from the encyclopedia, with letters highlighted spelling Trouble, my nickname with her used for teasing and practical jokes. I sent a mysterious forged love letter. Almost everyone was consulted for speculations on authorship.

This year I limited my letters to ten, sent to various friends, family, and my cabin girls in sets of three. On the outside of some I wrote notes, like the promise not to include denture ads or pictures of girlfriends. Inside was a benign colored collage of the history of tools used for various purposes.

I myself was the recipient of a package of cookies from my mom, and a postcard written from a boy I do not know, so I am quite content of its being a prank. In it the young man, who did not know my age, confessed his secret love while describing my beauty. I don’t think I even blushed while it was read, but I was glad that I didn’t need to make a big point of my singleness to the present company. Later I discovered that my little sister thought I was the age recorded on the postcard. I find that suspicious.

Other jokes were to send rocks, balloons, a lot of fake mushy postcards sealed with a lipstick kiss and perfumed, and maybe even a few (stolen earlier in the week) hats. One of the counselors even sent her husband a postcard, which I believe mentioned packing a teddy-bear. As postcards were read at meal time, the recipients either feigned ignorance (that looking better than appearing to have expected a love letter), suffered blushingly under the stares of the entire room, or in a few cases, leapt for the letter and tackled the camp staff who was reading the post.

The guilty senders ranged from blatantly admitting the joke to hinting that they sent the letters (as I was unwilling to engage in guessing) to complete anonymity and poker-faces. All this dissolved as soon as we were safe in the girls’ lodge, where comparing of notes and laughter over puzzled, red faces of friends exploded.

Good mail was received, as well. The cookies were good. I got notes from home. And a friend worked hard to make me a postcard so I wouldn’t feel left out among the younger friends at camp.

To God be all glory.

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“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is made, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not made. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.” from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

One of my favorite stories we studied during Bible Hour was one that I’m sure I’ve read, but never noticed. In 2 Kings 7, there is a story where the capital city of Israel was besieged by Syria. Outside the city gate lived four lepers, who were not allowed inside the city for the reason that they were “unclean” and might contaminate others with their horrible disease.

Eventually the city was in dire straits, starving for lack of access to food. That is the purpose of besieging a city. You close it up, and provisions run out.

So one day, the lepers had a council. If we stay here, they agreed, we will die of starvation. If we go into the city, where they don’t want us, and where there is still no food, we die of starvation. If we surrender to the Syrians, where they don’t want us, but they do have food, well, our chances look better over there. We won’t lose anything if they kill us.

I kept applying the sheer logic of the lepers to life at camp and afterwards. When we’re making decisions, it may do us good to consider our options. Too seldom do we consider that though one course looks good, another may be just as good or better. Though a situation looks desperate, and all courses may run ill, there may be one with hope. Captain Sparrow says the only rule you need to know is what a man can do and what a man can’t do. I think we ought to follow God’s rules and trust to divine intervention when necessary, not only to our own abilities. But it might do well to think through a situation like Captain Sparrow did (even when he appeared to be staggering about drunk or afraid or desperately greedy).

Four lepers trudged down the road to the camp of the Syrians and found it Syrian-less. The food and clothing, weapons, and riches were all still there, but no one was defending it. (This was an instance of divine intervention that the lepers had not counted on.) Samaria, the capital city of Israel, after a little convincing that the empty camp was really empty and not a trap, was saved.

To God be all glory.

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"Overall" Impressions

One of the biggest struggles I had the first few days of camp was that I kept worrying what people thought of me. Parents dropping off kids, other camp staff, the kids themselves… my imagination gave all of them sinister doubts about my competence, my enthusiasm, my age, my beauty. It was all silly. And life is not about me. I always forget.

A relief to me during camp was that I had a Sunday school class full of women at home praying for my heart to be content and not worried about boys. Camp has historically been a great place of freedom and delivery in that respect, but I was concerned a little, and my friends at home knew. Prayer matters. It really helped. So I was glad there were no guys there whom I “needed” to impress. Sounds silly. Is silly.

Don’t take this as making excuses, but in any case I don’t really want to be trying to impress someone. I don’t want to care about anyone’s impression of me except for God’s. If something had been “meant” to happen as a result of camp, I still needed to be focused on pleasing God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 – “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

There was a theme banquet the last night of camp, and the theme was Tool Time. I tried to think of something in my wardrobe that looked like Patricia Richardson from Home Improvement, but I really don’t like her style. It is so nineties-mom-tries-to-look-fashionable. So I brought overalls. I had a skirt, too, but I wanted to be a good sport. I also lost track of time and had not time to change, but did anyway. I had intended to find out what my girls were wearing. I remembered at the last second that I had agreed to do something just before the banquet that required me not to be in a skirt, so that was that. I was stuck.

Here’s the funny part: I got a lot of compliments on my theme-outfit. So I was getting attention, and it was positive. But I was so embarrassed, trying to act like a woman ought to act at a banquet, with good, elegant manners. Mixed with overalls and rolled flannel sleeves, that just looks ridiculous. I kept feeling the need to curtsey and remembering.

By the end of the night, the last thing about which I was thinking was my clothes. There were too many people to consider. And I wasn’t thinking about what others thought of me, either. There were much more important things on which to consider.

I wore a skirt the last morning.

To God be all glory.

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