Being raised in a Christian home, I spent almost all of my summers going to different summer camps with the church youth groups that I was a part of. One of the camps that largely shaped who I am today is hidden within the valleys of San Bernardino, and it’s called Forest Home!

From 6th-12th grade I spent many hours making my way up that mountain in a charter bus full of my peers. It became a dream of mine to work there one day so that I could partner with God and His kingdom work, hopefully impacting students the way that I had been impacted.

Lo and behold, Biola gifted me with the opportunity to do just that. Something that I cherish about Biola is that we have many awesome partnerships and connections with different companies and organizations. Forest Home happens to be one of the organizations that partners with Biola in order to recruit potential staff members for their team. One day, I was heading to grab lunch at the caf when I came across the tent of my dreams—Forest Home was there for recruitment!

And that’s the story of how the Lord fulfilled my life long dream of being a camp counselor. I wanted to take this blog to share a little bit of what my experience was like! I hope you enjoy.

Summer Camp ‘18

This past summer I spent ten weeks working at Forest Home Christian Camps. My position was the Worship Dean (dean is equivalent to what most would call a camp counselor) at Creekside which is Forest Home’s junior high center! I spent the first ten days living in a yurt with no electricity, and the rest of my summer I shared one bathroom with seven girls in the upstairs loft of a big house. That in and of itself was quite the adventure.

Forrest the bear with the deans

I roomed with our head female dean, Shannon, and we called our room Chocolate land.

Chocolate Land

As the worship dean, I was in charge of putting together the program set lists for the summer and rehearsing our band. One of the biggest challenges for me was the fact that we did the same program for ten weeks—that meant we played the same sets for ten weeks straight. The Lord used this to remind me that while I might feel like a broken record, He still moves big even if I feel like we have played “Reckless Love” a million too many times.

Worship at Forrest Home

Along with planning sets, being on staff meant helping with recreation. I was one of two rec judges, which meant your belly flop had better left you nice and red to score a ten from me!

Scoring belly flops and Rec times

My schedule at camp looked like waking up at 7 A.M and being on and energized until 11 P.M. This summer I scored my dream job—and it was the hardest thing that I have ever done. It’s funky when somewhere that has only ever been a place full of good experiences turns into a space where you are being stretched and challenged. Growing up as a camper here, I only knew of the good things—the spirit-filled, restful, and crazy fun parts of camp. This made coming across challenges tough because camp had never been a place where I felt stressed, anxious, or spiritually attacked.

I have never experienced spiritual warfare as heavily as I did during my ten weeks at Forest Home. It’s as if there were a target on my back with “HIT ME” in big bold letters for the enemy to have his fun with. The warfare looked like exhaustion, anxiety and quite literally flames. Within the first four weeks of camp, Forest Home went through a real active shooter lock-down, a fire, evacuation, and a mudslide. Combine that with exhaustion and anxiety—the list goes felt like we could never catch a break.

Fire times at camp

But while working at camp is the hardest thing I have ever done, it was also my greatest adventure yet. Seeing campers encounter Jesus’ saving grace every week made everything worth it. Every tear, every moment that I felt defeated, every time I got knocked over in a zorb, and yes...even every Tuesday night when we ate “teriyaki” chicken for dinner. Week by week the Lord continued to remind me of why I was doing what I was doing in the first place. He reminded me of how it was there at camp that I first got a glimpse of God’s desire to know me intimately and to be my friend. That it was through my deans that I got to experience and see a little bit of God’s heart—and that it was my turn to partner with Him in doing that for campers this summer.

Campers at Forrest

I am beyond thankful that I got this opportunity through Biola, and I can’t wait to see what other opportunities arise next!

‘Til next blog,