Posted tagged ‘camp’

Richie Bibelheimer…38 Years Later!

July 30, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                July 30, 2017


A couple of weeks ago I was at church camp as…well, I’m not sure what my title position was! I think I was the “Whatever Person.” When someone said “whatever” it was my responsibility, unless it was a high school girl being flippant and obnoxious when she said the word!

So…as the Whatever Supervisor I was able to float from session to session. At our camp week we have elementary, middle school, and high school camps going on at the same time, so I roamed around making sure things were going okay.

The surprise of the week was reconnecting with an old seminary classmate of mine named Richie Bibelheimer. When I heard that name as the pastor for the middle school camp I knew it was my old seminary classmate. I mean…how many Richie Bibelheimer’s can there be, right? It took me a year of seminary just to learn how to pronounce it, and now 38 years later our paths were crossing again!

Here’s the thing about seeing someone 38 years after the last time you saw him! Your picture of him is still the one from 1979! You still remember him from the era of leisure suits, thinner waistlines, and Chuck Taylor high-tops.

He walked right past me at dinner Sunday night in the camp dining hall. After he passed he called my name clothed in question form. “Bill? Bill Wolfe?” I turned and looked at the white-haired senior citizen who had just passed me by. “Richie, is that you?”


“Good Lord! Richie Bibelheimer!” There’s one thing about seeing someone almost four decades removed! You don’t want to come right out and say it, but you’re thinking it! “Man, do you look old!”

And the thing is, he’s thinking the same thing about you! The last time you saw each other you were in your mid-twenties. You could still jump and run like a gazelle, you had all your hair, and you didn’t have to travel with a pharmacy everywhere. Now your knees hurt, your face sports a couple of age spots, and the only thing progressive about you are the lens in your glasses.

Time keeps going even when we slowly journey through each day, and all of a sudden you meet an old friend and you realize just how far you’ve journeyed since your last conversation.

The other side of that is our reluctance to think that people change, that they will always be who they were back in the day…some obnoxious, some attractive, some hard to figure out, and some who seem to have it all together. People change, however, despite our tendency to firmly implant them in a distant past understanding. The physical changes are easy to see, despite the attempts to hide them or pretend they don’t exist. It’s the inner changes, the emotional upheaval, and the chaos of life that get blanketed from our view. The double chin is easier to see than the broken marriage. The wrinkled face is much more evident than the loss of a child a decade earlier.

Richie and I looked at one another, came to grips with the march of Father Time upon our lives, and enjoyed the blessing of renewed friendship…38 years later as a Whatever Supervisor and a Middle School Camp Pastor.

Helping Each Other Up The Hill

July 21, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                July 20, 2017


At Quaker Ridge Camp there is a peak high above the camp called Soldier’s Peak. Each year the kids at camp make the climb to the top where they encounter an incredible view of the wooded forest areas around it, and the other mountain peaks in the distance. Down below they can see the grounds of the camp and pick out the building they sleep in at night, the dining hall, the swimming pool, and other spots of activity.

But getting to the top is a struggle for many of them. They aren’t used to the hike, the elevation, and the physical exertion. Some begin the adventure with eager anticipation, but then realize it requires more than a video game controller and gradually lose their desire to reach the summit. Others begin to display the characteristic that usually rises to the surface when they meet a challenge that requires effort. They whine!

And then there are the Daniel Boone’s who blaze the trail, enjoying these moments in life to the fullest, ready to head across the valley to that next peak over that they can see after they reach the top.

And then there are the encouragers who want the whiners and the weak to accomplish what they know they will accomplish. They want all of their camp friends to make it up the hill, no matter how long it takes.

I was listening to our elementary camp pastor, Rev. John Mark Brown (Yes, he’s got half of the gospels in his name!) talk to his camp kids about the journey…kind of a debriefing session! He had been talking to them about what it means to serve in Jesus’ name…what might that look like? It was encouraging to me to hear a number of these young campers talk about helping each other up the mountain. That sometimes it’s not how fast YOU get up the hill that’s most important, but rather what each person does to make sure everyone gets to the top!

There’s a valuable lesson in there for all of us, not just eight, nine, and ten year olds. The church, when it is being the church, is a community of believers helping each other up the hill! And you know something! There are a lot of whiners who journey with us, and there are a few who are weak and aren’t sure they can go much further, and there are the trailblazers who look to run ahead and get to a location that will take the majority of the flock a long time to get to, and there are the encouragers who understand the celebration of having everyone standing on the peak…no matter how long it takes to get there!

It seems to me that the church needs to catch some of that understanding of the journey. It is a snapshot of what being in community with one another is all about!

Kids At Church Camp

July 19, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              July 18, 2016


A number of years ago Art Linkletter hosted a TV show entitled Kids Say The Darnedest Things. The host would ask an assortment of questions to four or five children sitting on the stage. Their answers were often unexpected and hilarious. That’s what made the daytime show such a hit for a number of years.

This week I’m one of the supervisors at a church camp. In that capacity I have the opportunity to observe what kids are doing and saying. It has been awesome!

Whereas middle and high school campers are concerned about things like fashion, who is in their room or cabin, make-up, hair styles, and not looking stupid…elementary age kids are in a totally different frame of mind.

On the first night the camp director had to make it a point to tell the kids to not lick the camp bell. Evidently a few had already ventured into that taste sensation! It makes you wonder how they ever even thought of doing it? What kind of conversation brought a few boys to the point of seeing what the bell tasted like?

Today there was a debate going on between three campers. My friend Rich told me about it. It went something like this:

“Yes you can drink Cheetos!”

“No, you can’t!”

“Yes, you can!”


“You put some Cheetos into a blender, add water, mix it all up, and then drink it!”

Drinking Cheetos…not one of those cocktail party topics that comes up, but with young kids you never know!

And think of it! Was one of them at home one day this summer, both parents away at work, and the child got bored so he decided to mix up some Cheetos with water? What was the seed for such an idea?

I walked around during the elementary “Canteen” time. Canteen takes place at the camp’s snack shack, and is a chance for the campers to buy a can of pop or ice cream or candy. I watched one young girl with a smile as wide as Kansas as she held a can of Pepsi in one hand and an ice cream bar in the other. Sometimes kids get to make decisions at camp that would probably fall outside of the permissible at home.

But tonight these same kids who talk about Avenger super heroes, Kona Ice, and the fast-paced game called Oct-a-ball, were invited to wash one another’s feet, and most of them willingly did it. There was a powerful spiritual lesson in the act…kind of a church camp version of learning by doing…and they grasped the meaning in the doing.

Many of them are missing their moms and dads, but are also experiencing that they can still be safe and okay in a strange new place surrounded by people who will walk alongside them…as they hike to the top of Soldier’s Peak; sit beside them… at a nighttime campfire; and laugh with them…as the next darnedest thing is said!

Camp Letter

July 9, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        July 9, 2015


Dear Mom and Dad,


Camp is a lot of fun! I wish it wouldn’t be ending on Saturday, but I know you miss me and want me to come home…and I’m okay with that! I’ll probably sleep about twenty-four hours straight because I’m really tired. Our counselor, Mr. Bob, snores at night so it’s hard to get much sleep. He’s nice, though! Yesterday I forgot to bring my money to Canteen…that’s the camp name for “7-11!” It’s got all those things that you don’t want me to eat or drink right before dinner…except Slurpies! Anyway, he bought me a Creamsicle and we talked about my favorite subject in school…gym class…and what the best part of camp has been. Last night when Mr. Bob snored like there’s no tomorrow I was more okay with it.

The food here isn’t as good as the food you fix at home, Mom! But the good thing is that I think your food will taste even better after I get home…even your meatloaf!

I’ve made a new best friend. His name is Jimmy. He is from the big city and had darker skin then me. I was talking to him about our farm, and can you believe this…he’s never even been on a farm, and has only seen pictures of pigs! He didn’t even know that bacon comes from pigs in a round-about way. He lives in a really tall apartment building that has twenty floors, and he’s on the seventeenth floor! I can’t imagine that! I asked him what happens if someone falls out of the window, and he said that they have windows that don’t open! That is some kind of craziness right there! He’s a really nice boy the same age as me. Sometime I hope he can come visit us on the farm and see a real pig.

You would like this! Everyday after lunch we have to take a nap. They call it “FOYB!” that means “flat on your back!” I’m okay with it since Mr. Bob’s snoring cuts out some of our sleep time during the night. For some reason he never seems to snore during FOYB!

A couple of days ago I got to go down a zip line! That was so much fun! They make you wear this helmet and this thing that kind of looks like a women’s girdle I think, but then you go down this cable really fast! I think we should put one up in the barn after I get home. Dad, you wouldn’t have to go down the ladder from the hay loft anymore. You could get down a lot faster and that way get your work done faster! I’ll help!

The pastor here this week is really cool. He’s not even old, like all the pastors I’ve ever met in my life. He was talking to us about trusting in Jesus. I had never heard it put exactly the way he said it. Let me try to explain it to you: Jesus loves me even though I don’t always do the right thing or make the right choice. That was pretty cool! So Mom, even though I don’t always clean my room, or remember to clean it, Jesus still loves me! Can you believe that?

Last night we were sitting around the campfire singing songs that I’m still learning the words for, and the camp pastor said that if anyone would live Jesus to live within their heart all that needed to happen was reciting this prayer that he prayed. I don’t exactly remember how the prayer went, but I said it. I don’t exactly understand how Jesus came into my heart, but I started crying into my sweater sleeve. I told Mr. Bob about it right before lights out and he said that I needed to talk to you and our pastor after I get back home.

I’d better stop writing so I can get this letter in the mail. There was one girl who was interested in me, but I told her I was too young to date. She was disappointed, so I tried to be nice. So I said, “Maybe next year at camp!” I will need you to help me figure out what to say to her at camp next year.


Your Son,

Joey Smith

Camp Building

July 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     July 21, 2013



     Yesterday about a dozen of our kids, young people, and three adults came back from a week at church camp. In worship today there were several testimonies from the campers about their experience. There was a heightened level of energy and excitement in worship. The energy may have been fueled by the sharing of how camp had impacted lives, or it was the result of lives that had been impacted…or perhaps it was because the Spirit seemed close and moving in our midst…or all three.

This was the first year in the last five that I didn’t go to be camp pastor at the middle school camp, but I have always felt that the church- not just mine- doesn’t do enough in building upon the spiritual excitement of camp in the weeks that kids come back home. Perhaps that’s because the campers are away…an hour away. Sometimes we miss the momentum because it didn’t occur in the church building or the community. On the other side, kids come back from camp on spiritual highs, emotionally charged and wondering what is the next thing to take place. They encounter parents who have gone to work each day during the past week as usual, people who have gone about their routines and responsibilities.

Sometimes the first few days after camp are disappointing for those returning home. That’s why camp is such a great experience! It’s twenty-four hours a day of relationship-building, making new friends, campfires, and getting messy with shaving cream and Cheetos. The campers have been taken out of their usual surroundings and, in essence, they start building a new home with a new family of their peers under the watchful eye of their counselor. My guess is that almost all of the students who were at the middle school and high school camps last week have already been on Facebook with most of their camp friends, sharing pictures, “I miss you” comments, and counting down the number of days until camp next summer.

The church would do well to build on what many of the campers now see as the greatest week of their lives. The church would do well to challenge them at this point in their faith and commitment. If that happens it will help young people looking for a purpose to find purpose. If it doesn’t…if that building on camp doesn’t happen…they will continue to count down the days until next summer, and about 360 days will be lost in their growing season.

Meeting The Children

June 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 27, 2013

This week, if you have been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as a part of a sixteen person mission team doing basketball camps and construction projects. The construction crew painted all of the classrooms and the hallways so that when the 400 students come back to school in August they will be greeted with a fresh look, a new beginning.

Today many of us were able to meet the children that we sponsor through VisionTrust. Carol and I have been sponsors for several years, but today was the first time I was able to meet our two Dominican children face-to-face. Alexa will be in sixth grade. I can tell that she loves to laugh and talk. She is cute as a button, and shared that she loves all food…even veggies!

I found myself getting emotional as I met her and talked, through our translator, with her. I’m not sure why my eyes got a little misty, but I think it was probably because today was a connecting point- connecting the sending of our financial sponsorship each month with who it is helping. I have to admit that Carol and I have sponsored children for so long that it has become easy to see it as a monthly bill to be paid instead of a gift to help someone in a different country. Just send the bill in with a check along with the utility bill and car insurance bill.

Today, however, gave me a completely new appreciation.

And then I met Johan, a third grader, who was shy and much as expansive in his answers to my questions as Alexa was. I’m sure it was a little intimidating for him to meet an old guy for the first time who kept asking a lot of questions about him and what he liked and didn’t like, favorite school subject, how many siblings, etc.

Alexa and Johan, two children who I will pray will be held in God’s hands, protected and growing each day.

It was a good day! A day of firsts. Perhaps tomorrow I will write about how I put my foot in my mouth on the first day of basketball camp this week and ended up giving away 91 basketballs.


P.S. The Cunfer family is awesome! They met the child they sponsored today also. Like me they connected to points that gave them a new perspective.

Plan and Adjust

June 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                             June 24, 2013


Plan and Adjust”


Today was our first day of basketball camp and construction projects here in the Herrera area of Santo Domingo. It was a day of adjustments. Kevin Hodges, heading up our construction crew ended up using his plumbing skills half the day… changing out a faucet…fixing a toilet…each a necessary thing that needed to be done…each a needed thing for the school we are at that serves 400 children.

The rest of the construction team ended up painting three classrooms in the school that were desperately in need of a new coat.

The basketball camp staff adjusted and adjusted. There, evidently, was some misunderstanding between the school principal and the students. Students were told that they could only come to one session of camp this week. She meant one sessions each day, either 8:30-10:00, 10:30-12:00, or 1:30-3:00. But some of the students misunderstood and thought she meant they could only come once…in other words, one day…the whole week. Our first session only had 9 kids come, but then our second session had about 25, and our third session 30. Evidently, word began to get out. When our afternoon session began, however…time-wise, there was only one boy there. We figured out it’s because it was raining at the time. Campers waited until the rain stopped. No parents were driving up to the school and dropping their kids off. No one drives up to the school except delivery trucks and motorbikes.

But by the end one had grown to thirty.

One of our groups meets in the sanctuary on the top floor. It’s cooler there, but the tin roof above it has openings that allow large puddles of rainwater to fall onto the floor. Teaching basketball in the sanctuary is fine, unless it rains. Then we must suddenly adjust so we can avoid people slipping and falling in the water.

So we went into Monday with a plan that quickly changed.       Plan and adjust, plan and adjust.

The student team members have been great. Sydney and Garrett Cunfer shared their testimonies in worship of Sunday. Samantha McKinney is a sweetheart to always wants to help people. Emily Lundquist is adjusting to situations as much as she needs to keep tabs on her diabetes and stay monitored. Hannah Lundquist is doing awesome as a basketball helper. Mason Ripple hooped it up with the young boys close his age; and Megan Lundquist got almost as much paint on the walls as she got on herself today…all with a smile.

We’ve adjusted to Dominican plumbing limitations. I will avoid explaining that too much here. We’ve also adjusted to showers that are two degrees warmer than cold, but feel surprising refreshing.

I adjusted quickly to Dominican coffee. Excellente’!

We’re adjusting to having translators, and we’re learning certain words that are helping us communicate.

God is in the adjustments! We’ll see if he has a different plan for Tuesday!

A 3 A.M. Start

June 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 22, 2013


I arise at 3 in the morning tomorrow! There is something awkward about getting out of bed before Starbucks even opens! 3 A.M. Is one of those times where you’re not sure whether or coming or going…or both at the same time, so you smack into yourself!

The early start is so I can arrive at church at 4:00, so our mission team can pack up, pray, and be on the road to Denver International Airport by 4:45. Several people told me this past week that they would be praying for us…from their beds that morning.

For the next week I’ll be posting a Words from W.W. From Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I’ll post something each evening about what has happened that day…about the people we meet…the children who will be attending basketball camp…the interactions between our team members with the Dominicans, and also with one another. I’ll try to share with you how we have been blessed, challenged, and transformed.

Our team of sixteen goes expecting to see God work, but, quite frankly, I’m sensing that God will be transforming each one of us even more than the people whose homeland we’ll be visiting. I’m expecting that new revelations about our own lives will come to us.

It will be long hot days in Santo Domingo. Our basketball staff will be conducting three camp sessions each day (8:30-10:00, 10:30-12:00, 1:30-3:00) for a hundred different kids each session. And then from 3:30-4:30 some of the young men in the community have been invited to come and play hoops with us (if enough of us are still standing). During the 90 minutes I’ll be presenting a devotional thought to start with. We call them Buddy Basketball values. They tie some aspect of the game of basketball to the gospel message. Basketball is a great teaching tool to talk about hope, to talk about good news.

Each evening we’ll spend some time as a team debriefing and sharing God-stories from the day. I’m excited to see what God is going especially do in the lives of the men who are a part of the team (Seven of us!).

It all starts with a splash of hot water in my face at 3 A.M, and my Keurig waking up about ten minutes later.

Pray for us!

Reflections of a Middle School Pastor, Day 5

July 20, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                               July 20, 2012

The end of a camp week is bittersweet! There has been the deepening of relationships, the establishing of new ones. There has been communal life that has reached new heights as well as other times of wading through “life’s mud.”

On the other side, however, there is the longing to see family and friends back home, to be able to go to Chipotle again, and sleep in one’s own bed.

Campers have the same reaction as Scripture describes the women rushing away from the tomb of Jesus after the angel of the Lord has told them that Jesus was no long er there, he has risen! Matthew 28:8 says “The women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

The end of a week of middle school church camp means both emotions- fear and joy. There is fear of how this Jesus journey is going to play out back in familiar territory; fear that what they’ve experienced in the past few days doesn’t take hold, fear that an incredible camp experience is simply that…and experience that was at camp and has no other relation to the rest of their life; and there is the fear that knowing Jesus will put them in a different and uncomfortable place with their friends.

There is also, however, joy. It’s a joy that life does has hope; a joy in knowing that a counselor they’ve had really does care about them; a joy in knowing that there are others who share this faith in Christ; a joy because of how their lives have been impacted.

A life of opposites that somehow become intertwined.

Oddly enough, the journey of faith…the authentic life-changing journey of faith…is the weaving together of those opposites. Sometimes we convey the idea, on purpose or not on purpose, that when we have Jesus goes from all bad to all good, that the non-dancers break out into waltzes. Smiley faces are what it’s all about with Jesus!

The reality is that a journey of faith is punctuated with high-five moments and other times that take our legs out from underneath us. Stuff happens to followers of Jesus, just like anyone else.

That, I believe, is the struggle with a loot of middle school students. With Jesus in their life, shouldn’t it all be good?

Are you telling me that with Jesus math is still going to be hard?”

Middle school students struggle with the “happy meal reasoning”; that there is a prize in every box…that life as it is meant to be is always sugar-coated and enunciated with smiley faces.

To journey with them is to let them know that life is not always filled with thirty-flavors of happiness. And that is hard for many of them to handle.

Fear and joy…faith and doubts.

Many of them leave camp and begin to ask the question “Why can’t church be more like camp?” It’s a seeking to stay in a place that has been home for a week and has been safe. Perhaps the question should be rephrased into saying, “Thank God that camp isn’t more like church!”

That’s not a slam on church life, but rather an affirmation of the importance of a week-long camp life. It’s been good!

And I’m ready to sleep in my own bed again!

Reflections of a Middle School Camp Pastor, Day 2

July 17, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W. July 17, 2012

Yesterday we climbed a mountain! Last night we struggled with the pain!
Not the pain in my knees, mind you, but rather the pain in the lives of middle school students. I had encouraged them to write down questions they had for God about something that troubled them. The responses gave me a view of the landscape of heartache and doubt that “recently-turned teenagers” deal with.
And, troubling as it sounds, a sense of cynicism towards the workings of God. They are troubled by, what they perceive, as God’s inactivity. Where was the Almighty when they felt picked on? Why did he create life and then allow someone close to them to die? Why pray if God is going to do what he wants to do anyway?
In essence, they are open to asking questions that my generation was afraid to ask, although we may have thought them! My generation got structure in Sunday School and youth group (which were good things). We dealt with “when, where, what, which, and how.” What we seldom dealt with, however, which the middle school group is willing to, is “why?” We had the Biblical numbers down…”forty this” and “twelve that”…but time seldom allowed us to get to the why.
Our Associate Pastor, when I had gone off to college was a guy named Jerry Heslinga. When I would come home on break, or for the summer, I would love to be involved in discussions or Bible studies with Jerry, because Jerry was not afraid to take the “why road.”
Now I gladly am leading…or perhaps being led…by these middle schoolers down that same road. It’s a pathway that does not guarantee answers, but encourages the searching.
Last night I was ready to launch into a presentation on Joseph’s journey from the pits to the heights, from the dungeon to exactly the place God wanted him to be in.
BUT…a few of the campers were dealing with something last night, a loss in their own lives, and I sensed that what I was to say could keep for another day. I turned to one of the counselors, a great young man about 22 named Bobby Cody. I said, “Bobby, come here.” He came to the front of our meeting area and I simply asked him “Tell us why you love Jesus?” For the next five to six minutes Bobby shared from his heart to a group of kids, who were focused on what he was saying.
Which describes something else about this coming-up generation. They aren’t afraid to ask why, but they also want to hear the truth, and about the Truth, as it is being experienced and lived out of someone’s life.