Last week I had the privilege of playing piano for the middle schoolers on West Side at Camp Barakel. At the beginning of the week, the campers were hesitant and uncertain in their singing, and I’m sure I was equally so in my playing. Although I have been to many Barakel chapels, I had not played piano in any, so I was getting a feel for how that worked and how to transition smoothly through them. Some of the campers had also been to many Barakel chapels, but this year’s camp choruses were new to them. And other campers had never been to Barakel at all before, so chapel was new to them and all of the choruses were new to them, including the classic and well loved song “Camp Barakel”. So for the first couple of days, we were all figuring it out together (thankful for our experienced song leader who was neither hesitant or uncertain!) and the singing was quiet and perhaps a bit disjointed.

But come about Friday, I was more comfortable, the campers were more confident, and then the songs really started to pull together. Then those choruses really began to do what they are intended to do: turn the hearts of the campers to their creator and to the many truths of which they are singing. I could tell when the nostalgic camp song was no longer new to any of them. When the campers who were at Barakel for the first time had begun to make this “their camp.” When they sang out with enthusiasm,

"Camp Barakel, Camp Barakel, We're glad to turn again,
To this bless'd place where truth and grace from God's own Word abound;
Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best,
Camp Barakel, We'll ne'er forget, For surely God has blessed."

“Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best.” What wonderful words to hear those campers sing with more confidence and more ownership. I couldn’t help but smile as I played them through it and heard what sounded like double the singers compared to the beginning of the week. And that is just one line from the camp song. They sang 10 different choruses over and over throughout the week, each filled with truth.

"Who is like the Lord our God? Strong to save, faithful in love.
My debt is paid and the vict'ry won: The Lord is my salvation."

"Christ the sure and steady anchor, while the tempest rages on,
when temptation claims the battle and it seems the night has won.
Deeper still then goes the anchor, though I justly stand accused.
I will hold fast to the anchor; it shall never be removed."

"Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure."

"All praise to Him who reigns in love,
Who guides the galaxies above,

Yet bends to hear our every prayer,
With sovereign power and tender care."

"The Word of God is light in my darkness,
hope for the hopeless, strong and true.
The Word of God is strength for the weary,
a shield for those who trust in You."

"Lord, I need you, oh, I need You.
Every hour I need you.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You."

What an absolute blessing to help lead those campers in better learning these songs so they can worship God more fully. What an encouragement to know that they will go home with those songs and those words rolling around in their heads. Some of the kids, like mine when they were young campers, will go home and sing them for their parents, in turn getting the words rolling around in their parents’ heads. What a potentially far reaching impact just from some simple camp choruses learned during a week of camp. I’m so thankful for the role I was able to play in that process. And I am equally thankful for the way those words impacted my own heart over the week.

“Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best.” Well that’s the very thing we are seeking to do on this path He has us on, isn’t it? We are seeking to give our lives anew to Him, following where He has called us to live and serve our best. We currently have commitments for 70% of the needed support. We would love to get that remaining 30% and make the move by the end of the year. Would you pray for us as we continue raising our financial support to go live and serve our best at Camp Barakel?

Rachel, for the Bennetts