About a week ago, we were stuck in the Dallas airport and told that we wouldn’t be able to fly home to Long Island till Monday evening. It was a kind of devastating situation because we needed to get home Sunday morning so that we could drive our students six and a half hours up to Houghton College for NTS Camp. Let me tell you, God worked some pretty awesome things out and after two cancelled flights, an unexpected hotel stay, and literally finding a bus driver while we were thousands of feet in the air, we were able to finally fly back to LaGuardia Sunday afternoon and meet our students and leaders at the airport to then drive them up to camp. God knew we needed to be at NTS Camp and so many experiences throughout the week would confirm this very fact.
What follows, are many glimpses from our week. Normally, I don’t actually bring my nice camera to camp, but thanks to the fact that we never went home to drop off our stuff, I had it with me. I didn’t capture everything, but I did manage to get enough. If you’re not a fan of seeing teens have fun while their lives are being changed in the most positive of ways, this post is not for you. Also, it’s going to be a bit random… truth be told it’s 2:00am and my schedule’s a little off since we got home at 2:00am last night thanks to traffic in the city. And another reason I’m rushing to get this post up is that we are heading out in about 27 hours for a missions trip and I’ve learned if I don’t do things right away they never will get done. So here goes, in no particular order, pictures and words to try to sum up the most amazing week of camp thus far.
Christian’s jersey was a reminder that we got to see our awesome Arizona family and it was so good. He washed it in the hotel and proudly wore it on our first day.
This would be Jeff Eckart, the founder of NTS Camp and our speaker for the week. I had a few times to talk with him and I could not be more impressed by his love and passion for teens and connecting them to Jesus. I walked about from those conversations changed and with a renewed passion to continue to serve Jesus by working with teens.
These boys took first place in the Volleyball open rec competition and despite their serious faces, they were all pretty happy about it.
We were extra excited about our incoming 7th graders (two pictured here). They are the future of our youth group and we loved introducing them to their first year of camp.
If you are a Youth Leader or Pastor and you’re looking for a fun camp that will entertain and teach your students while supporting and loving you, then NTS is the place you need to go. They always do an incredible job of ministering to us as well as our teens.
This girl. She’s my heart. And I did my best to give her space this week to have her own authentic experience and overall she was amazing.
For quite a few years now, we’ve been on the Blue Team. And we think it’s the best. And this year, it literally was.
Each day our students had time to spend alone with God. They read a devotion that tied in with the Bible and had time to pray as well.
Team Comps are always a fun time of organized fun and face paint.
Fun fact. Another Open Rec competition was something like archery meets dodgeball and these amazing boys took second place.
Jeremy, Christian and our friend Marc played in the 3 on 3 competition.
It wasn’t easy. Because it felt like it was 100 degrees in the gym and the boys played four or five games to make it to the championship round.
Which they won. And we were so proud of them.
Every day our students have a lesson time where they learn more about the Bible as well as Academy courses on topics of interest to teens.
It was really cool to hear throughout the week about the things that they had learned, which is what we heard during our small group time. We also played some exciting editions of “Heads Up, 7 Up.”
We had a great team in the Soccer Open Rec competition.
These kids also took first place.
By far, the best and most important thing we did every day, was to gather together in the evening to praise and worship God.
NTS does an incredible job of creating the most wonderful and worshipful environment for our students and leaders. Many nights, the music brought tears to my eyes as the experience of being surrounded by so many believers who were praising God was just such a powerful thing.
Small Group time was also a really important time of camp. Each student was in a group of their peers and had the chance to share their hearts and stories.
During camp, there is a Talent show and this year’s did not disappoint.
By far the best part of camp was just having so many opportunities to connect and encourage.
And also the choreographed dancing.
I’m super proud of that man to the left. His love for serving teens and Jesus has continued to amaze me, year after year after year. The man to the right is pretty awesome as well. His name is Kyle Wood and he led all of our team competitions.
On the last day, we performed our team cheer, which was basically equivalent to a miniature Broadway production.
And while that’s a slight exaggeration, it really was quite spectacular.
All in all.
The week was just outstanding. I have prayed for months and months for this camp and for these students. And God literally met and exceeded all of the expectations that I had going into this week.
We saw lives changed, and given over to God. We saw students commit to wanting to serve in ministry while others initiated a commitment to praying together each day for their schools.
On our last day, we took communion together and gave our students the opportunity to do as Jesus did and wash each other’s feet.
And while I’m sure many of these things don’t make much sense if you weren’t there, trust me when I say it was a beautiful and powerful time.
And wouldn’t you know, for the first time in a LONG time, our Blue Team took home the Team Comp trophy. All of those competitions and group games really paid off and it was a pretty awesome time to celebrate the hard work of all of these kids.
A huge thanks to our amazing team of leaders and pastors. We loved teaming up with you all and look forward to defending our title with you next year.
And finally, thank you to everyone who prayed for this week. I can tell you for fact, that these kids did not go home the same as they were when they came to camp. God worked some beautiful and wonderful things in their hearts and we could not be more thankful for how incredible our week at Never the Same Camp 2019 was.