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Editorial, Potomac Conference, Sherilyn O'Ffill, ‘Look Up at the Sky’

‘Look Up at the Sky’

Editorial by Sherilyn O'Ffill, Associate Youth Director, Potomac Conference

At the age of 16, I became a staff member at Georgia Cumberland Conference’s Cohutta Springs Camp, and later at Northern California Conference’s Leoni Meadows Camp. Because of the positive influence summer camp had on me as a child, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others too. While enjoying my staff roles, which included a kitchen worker, a counselor, the girls’ director and the assistant director, what inspired me the most was being mentored by other staff members. In turn, I learned how to mentor my campers—especially Mary.

Mary was 12 years old and had never been exposed to the dark. At Leoni Meadows, she was so frightened of nighttime she slept with her flashlight on.

On the fourth night of camp, she couldn’t sleep at all. Out of desperation—or maybe inspiration—I took her outside with me.

“Look up at the sky!” I exclaimed.

“What are those?” she asked.

“The little dots of light are stars,” I said. “And that big round thing is the moon.” She had never seen the night sky before.

I told her any time she was scared at night, all she had to do was to look outside, and if she could see the stars, she would know that God was watching over her.

That experience was a spiritual turning point in her life. Two years later, she was baptized at camp, and a few years after that, she worked as a staffer alongside me.

“The reason I’m here is because of you,” she told me. I learned she wanted other kids to gain a closer walk with God, just like how I had done for her.

Years later, I became the director of Potomac Conference’s Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) in Montebello, Va. I took on this role because I wanted to continue being involved in the life-changing and memory-making moments that are brought about when you take young people out of their everyday environment and put them in very close contact with nature and other Christians. You can “see” and “feel” God, and He uses you to reach the lives of others.

Summer camp challenges staff and campers spiritually, physically and emotionally—stretching you in ways you’ve never been stretched before and helping you rely on God in ways you’ve never had to before. At summer camp, campers receive an educational experience they will never get in a classroom. And all without the use of screens.

“Look up at the sky,” I told Mary then, as I tell my two children, Alec, a staffer, and Katie, a camper, today. “God’s marvelous nature is the only screen you need.”

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