My Camp Experience, by Dustin Shrodes
For a majority of my life I blocked out all of those memories of the harsh words I received from people for no reason, and all of the punishments I received alongside those words. The second I allowed myself to unblock all of the memories and think about everything that happened, was one of the most important times in my life. Because of Pen-Florida Assemblies of God Youth Camp I was able to get through the feelings I failed to realize even existed.
Every year I attended a summer camp which was intended to aid me in forgetting everything going on in my life and give me an enjoyable week. But Pen-Florida Assemblies of God Youth Camp in 2006 had the exact opposite effect, and I loved it. Something big happened because of the getaway that camp provided. I forgave all of the people who made assumptions and judgments about me just because of my father’s occupation. In my head I held a grudge against all the people who treated me badly, a grudge that lasted a long time and gave me a very negative viewpoint.
When I gave myself time to think, and time to talk to my friend Stephen about how I felt, things started happening. I suddenly remembered in vivid detail all of the events that brought me down and I cried like a baby. The tears that I thought caused weakness ultimately brought me strength. I had held back thoughts of the past for so long that when I finally released them it gave me a peace beyond measure. I learned how to let go of all my thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. I learned how to get over failed relationships, and through mentors who had walked out on me, and then work through the anger I built towards both of those issues.
Having some of my other friends open up and explain that they were dealing with similar feelings helped me realize that I wasn’t alone. I was led to believe that I had to put on this mask of masculinity; that if I ever showed an emotional side, or said how I felt about something it meant I was acting like a little girl. To me that was a very crucial stage in my life, and that whole week changed my perspective on so many things. I never took the time to think about how I felt about pretty simple things. The mind is a powerful thing, and Pen-Florida youth camp freed mine from being enslaved.
The week I spent at Camp may not have been the best week of my life, but really they were some of the most essential days I have lived. Aside from the fact that I learned how to get out my feelings, I learned that I wasn’t alone in the things I felt and circumstances that I went through. This experience strengthened friendships and created bonds that could not be broken with a thousand swords. Camp didn’t just give my mind a freedom it needed so much, but it gave me friends to share my thoughts with. It changed my life and without it there is no way I would be the same person I am today.
Again my friends, hear me loud and clear...if you speak harsh words to your pastor's children - if you talk about them, single them out and treat them unfairly, you will be held accountable by God and you WILL answer for this someday when you stand before the Lord in eternity. Don't take my word for it -- take what the Bible says in Matthew 18:6,7. For any of you who mistreat children or lead them astray it says: "better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!"
That's serious business, folks.