Posts Tagged With: Summer Camp

Life, Heroes, and Summer Camp

It is that time of year when you will barely hear a peep from most youth ministers. They are head down, plugging away at the meat of the busiest part of their year. I personally am working my 39th day in row and looking forward to this coming Friday when I get my first day off of the summer.

This past week we took our students off to summer camp. Summer camp is a weird time for me it brings about feelings of great stress and anxiety but also feelings of great joy. On the other hand, summer camp brings about feelings of sadness and regret. I know that sounds weird but stay with me.

Getting almost 30 people up and on the road and to a destination that is 6 hours away and then keeping them focused and peaceful for 5 days is really quite the challenge but always worth it especially when 7 of those people give their lives to the Lord. And while those things consume most of my thoughts, my never off brain is always finding ways to slip in negative thoughts. You see as a young man I LOVED camp. It was simply the greatest time of my life and for many many years I believed I would work at and one day run and speak at my very own camp. Those dreams never came to fruition. And so now as life has played out I take my own group to camp. And every year I am reminded of those dreams that faded slowly and I wonder what might have been if only I had been willing to take a risk and go all in on that dream so many years ago.

It is no secret that we all have heroes. No matter what our dreams are their is someone who is living out those dreams that we aspire to be. One of mine is the man who founded the camp that we have taken our students to for the last 8 years his name is Clayton King. I greatly admire this man for his passion and fire for reaching the lost,both young and old, I aspire to be able to communicate and teach the word of God as effectively and boldly as he does and I love his down to earth attitude and willingness to talk to anyone who approaches him.

Clayton’s reach has grown immensely over the years and especially over the last year since taking the position of Interim Senior Pastor at Newspring Church in South Carolina so it is easy to see why many people might make him their hero but over the years I have found myself secretly hero worshiping some other people. Specifically, my secret heroes were the camp staffers. Admittedly, I was embarrassed over the fact that I found myself in awe of these people and mostly college aged kids that are now at least 12 years younger than me. In my mind it was ridiculous that I would be so star struck by a bunch of kids who had so little life experience and so much to learn. But this year it hit me, unexpectedly and in a way I never would have thought, God showed me exactly why the camp staffers were my heroes and he did so through a former camp staffer who was at camp for the first time as a youth pastor.

We were getting our room assignments when I saw him. Right across the hall in the room across from mine, he was sitting on the bed I called out his name and he came out and as our students scurried off to their rooms we stopped and caught up. I could tell he was processing and adjusting to the fact that he was now on the other side of the camp experience and it was just a little overwhelming. We talked for a few minutes and as we parted I prayed for him and that is when God spoke to me. For the first time in my life I understood why all these young kids were my heroes and it all boiled down to a single word. RISK

When looking up to someone the one thing that must be present is a characteristic that they possess that you wish that you possessed but don’t. These college kids, every last one of them, took the risk that it was worth leaving their normal lives to spend their summer to serve a bunch of teenagers in the name of Jesus.  At first glance that may not seem like a big deal to many of us but I promise you that at 18, 19 or 20 that is a BIG deal.  The faith that it takes is a faith that I didn’t have at that age. When I finally had the chance, after years of dreaming, to go interview and possibly take a position as a camp staffer fear won out and I didn’t even go to the interview and I never had the chance again.

While I admire Clayton King now I think I admire the 22 yr old Clayton that I never met much more because at 22 he started Crossroads Summer Camp and built the ministry that I once dreamed of building but was afraid to step out in faith and make it happen.

So the question is : What risk are you afraid to take? And more importantly, will you ever reach your dreams if you don’t?




Categories: Everyday Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Power of Summer Camp

As a youth pastor summer camp is a must. It provides the greatest opportunity for relationship building and spiritual development and serves as a launching pad for he rest of the year. I have literally seen a youth group go from blah to BAM over the course of a single week of camp.

Summer camps are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere. There are a lot of theories and methods behind how to do summer camp. Some choose to do their own some go to camps that have a lot of structure, some little structure.

But the key thing is summer camp done right is a big deal.

Two years ago today I arrived at summer camp. Specifically at Crossroads Summer Camp a ministry of Clayton King Ministries. it would be the third year I had brought a group to Crossroads but it would prove to be a defining year in the philosophy of how I do ministry and how I choose camps and conferences.

As we arrived at camp, I was a wreck. My grandmother had just been murdered a few short weeks before, there were struggles at our church that had become unsettling and overwhelming, we had just had VBS which meant two solid weeks of 70 hrs of work for me. So I was toast.





You see, I knew that when I got to camp my students were going to be ministered to, they would fall in love with Jesus all over again and they would fall to their knees and worship Jesus in sweet and beautiful tears.

I also knew that I would too.

Many times camps for youth are filled with good quality stuff but, if you have been in church for any considerable amount of time in church, it can seem superficial or elementary.

But, and this is where I have defined my philosophy, Crossroads doesn’t settle for superficial. They dig deep, they challenge students and adults to reflect on the truth of God’s Word.

I will never forget falling to my knees on the second day not able to sing a word sobbing into the shoulders of one of my students as we were led in the chorus of “You Hold Me Now”. As God ministered to my broken heart and I began to heal I realized that camp was as much for me as the students.

And now I know that a camp, conference or service that is going to be great will be great for both your students AND your leaders. And year after year I have experienced that with Clayton King and Crossroads Summer Camp.

And that is why for the first camp with my new church we are in Anderson SC for #CRSC15.

God is good and I already have so much to say. More on that later.

Categories: Everyday Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

I was Profiled as a Shoplifter- The Sufferings of an ADHD Shopper

I wanted to share an experience I had tonight at the Simpsonville SC Walmart and can only laugh about in retrospect.

Our children are getting ready to head off to a week of camp and they are getting to the age now where they want their own luggage. So today we had gone out and had bought our oldest daughter a cute, girlie rolling suitcase but had struck out when trying to find something for our son. I also had to get those items that every camper needs as well as some household stuff and so I struck out to Walmart, where you can find anything and everything.

I must admit that I love Walmart and never just go in and get what I need and with my ADHD my trip through the store looks like a blind mouse caught in a inescapable maze.  I looked around at some stuff and priced out some things I wanted to buy later and looked at supplies for the camping trip I want to take. My headlight on my car has gone out so I grabbed a pair of those. Then, as I walked through bedding I grabbed a comforter that was the match to one I bought for one of our girls a while back and hadn’t been able to find since. That is when I grabbed the 5 piece luggage set, bright almost but not quite Carolina Panthers blue, I knew my son would love it. After that I went over and got all the kids travel needs toothpaste, shampoo, sunblock etc. And while I was over there I grabbed some hairbows and headbands and some brushes for the kids to take to camp that they could lose and not get skinned by their mother for.

With all that done I was ready to head over the grocery section but I wasn’t ready to leave yet, I knew I would be bored and had nothing to do at home, so I headed over to the bike section. One of our students wants me to go mountain biking with him but I need a new seat and a helmet so i was entertaining the idea of going ahead and getting them so I could be ready to just go when I had a day free.

That is when I heard him. There was a man at the other end of the aisle and I could barely understand him. but what I could make out was. “This isn’t shopping” “he’s throwing handfuls of merchandise into the buggy” “I am going to need help” “he is in the toy section”. Two things went through my mind at that moment. 1. Oh crap somethings about to go down I better get outta here before someone goes crazy on someone! 2. Is that guy somebody I know trying to prank me.

I walked around and tried to get a look at the guy but I didn’t know him so i shrugged it off and went back around the store to finish my shopping. From the toy section I went through the home decor section and looked at clocks, I don’t know why so don’t ask. Then as I walked through the sunglasses section I looked to see if they had anything my kids would like. They did not. So it was time to end the trip and head to the dairy section and out to check out. On the way I passed the kid’s clothing section and saw that they had value packs of underwear for sale. It took a while for me to find the right size and cut for my girls. Sidenote 1: I am not comfortable with the idea of size 4 toddler panties being available in low rise bikini and definitely will not buy them for my daughters Sidenote 2: there is not much as awkward as a 30 yr old man shopping for girls underwear in Walmart alone on a Saturday night but hey ya gotta do what ya gotta do right?

Anyway I found what I needed and went over to get my son some underwear in the boy’s section. At this point I am approached by a young man who makes eye contact , head nods and walks away. He then reappears and whispers “hey”. He was so quiet I could barely hear him. He walked closer and I judged him to be your average Hollister wearing teenage boy nothing particularly shady or off about him. Leaning in towards me over my buggy he whispers again “Hey if you are stealing anything you better be careful some old guy in a gray shirt is following you and watching you.” My eyes must have gotten huge and my jaw must have dropped in disbelief because he repeated himself again and added “seriously” I laughed and said that was hilarious and asked him if he wanted to know why that was so ironic. Then i explained I was a youth pastor and stealing was the last thing I would ever do. He laughed said “For real? That’s messed up” and walked away.

The whole conversation made me laugh and I tried to peak around the corners to spot the guy but I never saw him. Obviously it was really time for me to go and finish my trip. I walked back to the dairy case got some coffee creamer and texted my wife about the convo I just had. I could not get over it and so I tried to hover and spot the guy but I couldn’t.

I wandered up to the front stopping along the way to look at the As Seen On TV display. Recently I have gone crazy for the Magic Tap Drink Dispenser and was hoping they had gotten it to store already, no luck. While I was looking, I spotted the boy who had tipped me off at the checkout, I was a little suspicious of him at this point, and so I walked the other direction. After a quick stop at the Pepsi single cold case,I got in line and started unloading the buggy. As I unloaded the majority of the small items I saw the older man duck behind a clothing rack trying to appear as if he wasn’t watching me when obviously he was. My first instinct was to try to make eye contact to acknowledge him but he turned and walked away. After a few moments he walked back and took position again. There were a thousand different scenarios racing through my mind and I was about to ask the cashier if the guy was a Walmart employee or not. I then decided on a more direct course of action. I squared my shoulders, stood up straight and walked with a confident stride and a friendly smile on my face. The gentleman turned away from me acting as if I was intruding but I was not going to be denied. I looked him in the eye, even though he would not maitain eye contact, and point blank asked him. “So are you the guy that I was told is following me and thinks I am stealing from the store?” He stammered a bit and denied watching me and explained he was simply talking on the phone but he added, almost  under his breath, “I am with Walmart Security”.  My reply was quick, emphatic and confident.  As I grabbed his hand and firmly shook it I drew my body to full height, which put my eye level just above his, my eyes widened and I smirked as I said “Allow me to introduce myself. Rev Jason Roth Youth Minister Reedy Fork Baptist Church I just bought a load of stuff tonight to send our kids off to camp next week.” The gentleman broke eye contact, still holding a phone to his ear this whole time, looked at the floor and snickered as he shook his head slowly side to side and said simply “Have a good night sir” and walked away. I went to the checkout helped the cashier go through the rest of my items and even helped her open the luggage to make sure there were no “extras” inside, paid for my order and started to leave. As I turned to walk away I caught a glimpse of the teenage boy that had been so gracious to tip me off walking back with his friends into the area of  the clothing section that I had just had my confrontation. If I had to bet, I would bet that those boys were Walmart employees posing as shoppers and that the tip off was just a ploy to try to get me to say something incriminating.

As I walked out I shook my head and knew that I would have a great story to add to my shoplifter thwarting tales except this time instead of being the store employee tackling the shoplifter I was the one the store was trying to thwart!!

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, Humor, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: