Thursday, July 24, 2014

Camp Journal Entry #5: Last Full Day

Yesterday, if you had asked me how I felt the week was going, I would have replied "is it barely Wednesday?" But now that it is Thursday, I can't believe that camp end tomorrow. 

Do we have to go?

I have seen a group of twelve acquaintances ride four hours up to a tiny, ancient camp in the Prescott forest and turn in to a family of Christ-loving students. You can't put a price on that.

Today, being the last full day, is expected to be the most off the hook, insane, crazy day of this whole week.

According to the beautiful Haylee Troth, today is the Great Race, Messy Games, and Water Games.

The Great Race is traditional race of eclectice challenges that challenges a team as a whole. The tradition of the Great Race reaches as far back as the history of camp itself from the time the Greek demigod, Camproditis Squirrel-chaser, proposed a test to camps across the world to test their campers of being worthy to bear the name of camp conquerors. In honor of the great camp conqueror, Krytos the homesick, who, in the last second, beat Camproditis in the Great Race of 47 B.C. in a speed round of Pokemon trivia, we continue the tradition.

The Great Race is a camp wide relay of different activities and challenges spanning from feats of brute strength to tests of the mind and agility. As a whole, the team travels together, works together, and is victorious together.

But there can only be one team of camp conquerors.

According to tradition, losing teams would be sent to the lair of the four headed squirrel, Adorabus, to be gnawed up, but because of the endangered nature of four headed squirrels, a dumb signed petition resulted in the relocation and protection of Adorabus. 

Now losing teams just wallow in the shame of failure and go take naps.

I guess that's almost as bad.

Water games are exactly what they sound like. Games. With water.

But Messy games.. The mere mention of this event send shivers to where my gall bladder used to be and leaves me in a cold sweat. I have no idea what Messy Games means nor what it might entail. Am I frightened? Does a snipe poop in the woods?

Yes. Yes it does.

So today should be a great day full of excitement and victory. I have full confidence in our abilities to be victorious and claim the name as camp conquerors and carry on the name of Krytos the Homesick.

We are all so tired in the very best of ways, and almost all of us have visited the camp nurse to wrap us up in bandaids and pepto. That's what happens when you give your all.

God is moving powerfully and obviously in the hearts of the campers and leaders, and I am so excited to see the camp fire return home and continue to burn brighter than ever before. A fire will continue to burn as long as it is given fuel and room to burn.

Continue to pray for the students and leaders up here as well as the speaker, Ryan, and maybe shoot a prayer of two up for me as well. 

Tomorrow is the last day of camp, but the first day of our first ever work week. Am I excited? Does a snipe poop in the woods?

Nate T B

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Camp Journal Entry #4: Wednesday Morning and still kicking

Another beautiful morning in God's country. Partly cloudy with a 27% chance of rain later in the afternoon. Right now the temperature is a chilly 71 degrees.

As the dudes sleep, here I sit, sipping French press coffee and listening to Deathcab For Cutie as the sun peeks out from behind the trees. 

Everyday here is beautiful and a gift from God, and I am so grateful to be here with these students. Last night was an incredible night of faith and reflection, considering what aspect of their lives they are denying Christ's Lordship over. There were tears and so much prayer.

There's something awe inspiring about watching your high school student hugging and praying over a junior high student. 

Watching the Holy Spirit build fires and fan flames in the hearts of all of these students is beautiful and incredible! If there was a way I could capture an image that illustrated the magnitude of passion up here, I would cherish that picture.

I love talking to the other youth leaders that come up here with their students. The amount of knowledge up here is a gold mine of wisdom and differing perspectives that would be considered a blessing by anyone's standards.

Since we've been up here, I have heard from several of the other leaders that our students from Summit Ridge Church are some of the most competitive, hard working, and respectful students they
have seen at camp.

Kudos to the parents.

Today's team competition games look to be daunting. At 11:00, we play Kajabe Can-can against the untouchable yellow team.

Kajabe. Can-can is a game of quick adjustments and physical strategy that favors agility and implementation of momentum over brute force.

But brute force sure is handy.

The game is simple. 

Each player has a small twelve inch rope knotted at both ends for grip. With every other person on your team, the opposite team is on both your sides. Each player takes ahold of the player's rope beside them, forming a large circle around a trash can in the middle. When given the signal, a 360 degree game of tug-o-war begins trying to get the other team members eliminated by having them touch the can or let go of their rope grip. It's more intense than it sounds.

Then we play Scatter ball which a version of dodgeball without boundaries, so it's a mad game of sprinting and running.

And then after lunch, we have a series of pool games.
My favorite.

The day should be a full one, packed with excitement and intensity.

Continue to pray and consider picking up some kids from camp and hearing their awesome stories on the beautiful ride home. 

Nate T B

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Camp Journal Entry #3: Tuesday Morning

I don't want to brag, but last night, it was in the low 60's.

Okay I'm bragging a little bit.

So far, camp has been stellar. Last night at cabin time, the comment was made, "I am friggin' wicked tired." To which I replied "It's only Monday

Well done, Prescott Pines, well done.

The students have been connecting and growing already, working through deep internal conflicts and wrestling with tough questions, "How can God's love truly be infinite, and what does that say about me?"

Ryan Senters, our speaker up here at camp has been a phenomenal speaker so far, bonding with the students and challenging them to deepen their intimacy with God. 

The weather is perfect, God is working, the Holy Spirit is moving, and I am so ridiculously excited.

Of course, as any good camp will, we all have sustained our fair share of bumps and scratches. 

During steal the bacon, a student from the opposite team was running away with the blue noodle. I wanted the blue noodle. 

That blue noodle was my blue noodle.

The staff made clear that this was not elementary school camp, and if we so desired, we could tackle and claim our prize.

I so desired.

I watched him snatch that blue noodle from a myriad of mixed rec-toys, and that blue noodle was the goal of the round. 

Like a bullet from a gun, I tore after him. My vision was tunneled, and all I could see was my noodle-in-distress being carried away by some mysterious high schooler. As he was merely feet from his team's line, I launched myself at him like a starving tiger.

I may or may not have roared when I pounced. 

I felt very tigery.

As I felt the back of his shirt flirt the tip of my fingers, I knew he had too much of a lead on me, so I settled for a good pair of legs. Before I slammed on to the ground, I got a good grip of his legs, wrapped them up, and death rolled like a Nile crocodile.

As I gnawed upon one of his ankles, one of my fellow team members came upon the gnarled mass of animalistic chaos and reclaimed our stolen property.

Actually the truth is, the kid grabbed the noodle, so I chased him and tackled him. It wasn't as gory as it sounds. He was 100% fine and I sustained a few minor lacerations to my right arm. It might have been from the vicious struggle of tooth and claw.

Or maybe a rock.

Everything at camp seems epic! Even the most mundane of tasks can become an exciting, high energy activity.

Have you ever played cards with camp staff before?

It's a life-threatening game of life and death. 

On a sad note, I am without French press coffee this morning. Yesterday morning, some of the other leaders saw my fresh pot of coffee, and they could not resist. 

They asked the impossible: "can I have some of your coffee?"

Of course I shared. Mr. Rogers taught me will.

Now I'm short a bit and only have enough coffee for Thursday.

Curse me and my generosity.

In closing of this entry, continue praying for safety and health for our students and leaders.

Pray that God would continue to mold and shape hearts, and that He would give wisdom to the leaders to engage and challenge their students to deepen their intimacy with our loving creator.

Nate T B

Monday, July 21, 2014

Camp Journal Entry #2: The First Morning

Well, we made it in one piece. 

As soon as we pull up in our van and luggage truck, the forest begins to echo with "Summit Ridge is here!" And "Nathan is here!" 

Isn't it nice to have a place where everybody knows your name?

Camp is beautiful. While Las Vegas is sitting pretty in 106 degree weather, getting out of the truck in Prescott, in the shade of the trees, feels a beautiful 82 degrees.

Immediately, the students are captured by the magic of the rustic beauty that is Prescott Pines Camp. The energy is already high and exciting as the summer staff greet us at the office before we sign in for camp. 

After checking in and moving in to our cabins for the next week, I am whisked away to the first leader meeting while the students are left to explore the camp and meet new students from other churches from all over the Western United States. 

It's so encouraging coming year after year and seeing the same faces year after year, all with new stories and experiences, each looking older than the year before. 

I guess that's what youth ministry does to you.

After the leader meeting, I headed towards the dining hall, hoping that a few of our students would be there, waiting for dinner, but, behold, I see the entire group together, playing ninja in line for dinner with new friends. 

Of course they're on time. It's a standard we live by!

Dinner is phenomenal, barbecue chicken with baked beans, corn in the cob, all the stuff you could want for a first meal at camp. 

Dinner ends, and the Ridge Uth heads own to the MAC which is the camp's gymnasium with two basketball courts and ping pong tables, balls hidden away in closets for the using. The MAC is a massive structure, an ancient Aframe building rising like an arrowhead out of the trees.

One very fun and sad game of basketball later, the staff and rest of the campers enter the MAC where we would start our first night game: flags and cheers.

The game is simple: meet the rest of the campers on your team, design a flag, and make up a team cheer to show your ferocity and team spirit to the other teams. 

Oh and you only have 40 minutes to do both.

Of course Summit Ridge dominated. We took second place in both our flag and our cheer. 

Our team? The Bouncing Blue Blowfish. 


Ryan Senters led an incredible chapel alongside the band, Army of Light. 

If you're not sweating at the end of worship, then you're probably not in the same building as we are.

After chapel, we met in the oldest building on camp, the prayer chapel. 

The prayer chapel is a rustic beauty of a building sitting high on a hill with a beautiful view of the stars that inspires deep thought purely by its atmosphere. 

While the other youth groups are pranking each other and prancing around the forest in the wee hours of the morning, Ridge Uth is in bed early, physically and mentally preparing themselves for the team challenges in the morning.

I am always blown away by the passion for excellence our kids display. They are ruthlessly competitive and unceasingly loving. I am always blown away.

So here I sit, drinking freshly French-pressed coffee and listening to All Sons & Daughters' Give Me Jesus in the light of the rising sun among the trees and beauty of God's creation. Praise the one who
brings all things together for His glory!

I am already floored by the hearts of the students this week. 

Continue praying for the students this week as well as God speaks through Ryan and works in the hearts of the leaders and students alike.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him above, he heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Nate T B

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Camp Journal Entry #1: T Minus 4 Days

For months now, we've been piecing together the plans and details of camp, organizing dates, planning transportation, making phone calls, contacting parents, planning mini-lessons, chatting with the camp, talking to staff, collecting money, but now we've come down to the final few days before we take our four hour long trek to the land of trees and squirrels: Prescott, Arizona.

Prescott is a lovely antique of a city, nicknamed "Everybody's Hometown." They've got entire lanes of antique shops, local coffee shops, small diners, pubs, and a deluge of senior citizens who dress up as cowboys just because it's Friday.

A crazy Friday night might sound a little like a movie; begin the evening with dinner at a local diner where the street musician on the corner serenades you with songs of a perfect world without computers and life on the prairie. After dinner, you cross the street to the square where people are dancing in the grass beneath the trees to the live Bluegrass band sitting underneath a Christmas-lit rotunda. Everyone is friendly, and you end up meeting at least five people who are genuinely pleased to meet you and would love to spend the evening telling you stories about the time their cousin was attacked by a raccoon while trying to change the tire on his jeep heading up Senator. A short drive up Senator brings you to a trek up a pine-dressed mountain with stars brighter than the city lights, and air cleaner than mama's fresh linens hangin' out on the line during a warm, breezy day.

Welcome to Prescott.

It is no coincidence that Prescott has more camps on that mountain than a Barreras family gathering has cars in Nana's yard. Each camp is beautiful and rustic in its own way, holding fast to the heart of camping; trees, clean air, bad phone service, and sleeping where you can see the stars. Have you ever been on top of a mountain so far away from city lights that you can see the wispy beauty of the Milky way spinning lightyears away? Have you ever seen so many stars that it's hard to point out the North Star in the mosaic of God's aesthetic greatness? Try pointing out Orion in the midst of millions of gleaming diamonds.

It's like trying to find a smurf in a ball pit.

I saw a star here in Las Vegas once! Then it shined a spot light on me and flew by.


So I suppose it's apparent in this blog that I am pretty freakin' excited to go to camp and even more excited for the kids that we are bringing this year. I get so excited when I hear the words "I've never been to camp before." Camp is in my heart and runs in veins, and nothing gets me more excited than seeing campers encounter Christ and come back home on fire for the Gospel.


This will be my first summer camp I have not been an employee of Prescott Pines Camp in eight years...
Needless to say, I have been experiencing camp withdrawals. Symptoms of camp withdrawals includes, but are not limited to:

  • Quaking hands
  • Dreaming in camp songs
  • Wanting to dress in ridiculous outfits in public
  • Packing for camp weeks prior to going to camp
  • Sweating team colors
  • Training your youth group for camp games
  • Telling everyone with more than one ear about camp
  • Wearing camp shirts
  • Blogging about camp
The list goes on, but ain't nobody got time for that.

Something I'm really stoked about are the small breakout sessions where different guest speakers take a little time and speak on different topics, and I am one of the guest speakers. Last Winter I spoke on So I'm a Christian; Now What? This summer, I'm teaching on the Gospel Identity and what is means to be defined by the Gospel.

Isn't God good? Wow.

This will be a momentous summer of camp with so many firsts and so many finales. This will be my first summer camp as a pastor, my brother's last summer as Program Coordinator at the camp, Haylee's last summer working at camp, Mikayla's first time at camp, first time we're all riding in one van to camp, I'm so excited!

As the day gets nearer, be praying for all the students going to camp:

  • Mikayla K
  • Ashley B
  • Josiah C
  • Luis Kiki H
  • Kyle B
  • Lindsey M
  • Lily M
  • Ben M
  • Tyler D
  • Randi P
  • Elijah P
  • Cami P
  • and me! Nate T B
 Be praying that God would continue moving, working, and preparing our hearts for the incredible experience of camp. 

Pray that we would find a solid plan for transportation getting our Uth home.

Pray for Ryan Senters, the speaker, that God would give him wisdom and energy, and that God would speak His word through him.

Pray for the band, Army of Light, that they would be filled with passion and truth and lead the youth in pure worship of God

Pray for my brother, Danny, and his wife who is 38 weeks pregnant during one of the busiest weeks of camp all year.

Pray for Haylee Troth, Sarah "Breezy" Brizuela, Sam "Shmuel" Perez, and Ryan Farney, that they would lead the staff in love, patience, and fresh energy for their last camp of the summer.

More journal entries to come as the day gets closer and while we are at camp. Pictures too!

Nate T B