Hi Swamp Blog Readers!

Welcome to the Swamp blog. I hope you've had a wonderful week since the last blog post. Don't forget that registration for summer camp will be opening very soon, so be thinking about what weeks you plan on coming to camp this summer.

Here at Camp Swamp, we talk a lot about being yourself. Actually, the mission of camp is "to create a physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally safe environment for kids to have fun, learn about God, and be themselves." Here, we praise people for coming out of their shells and being their true, authentic selves.

But, what does it actually mean to be yourself?

That is something I definitely am still figuring out. The essence of being yourself does not mean doing whatever you want all the time. Well, maybe to some it does, but for those trying to have Jesus as Lord it means something much deeper. Neither is being yourself something that can be pinned down or written into a succinct description. Yet, you know it when you feel it.

Having fun brings out our true selves.

Obviously, being yourself is different for each person. Everyone is UNIQUE, and it just doesn't make much sense to compare each other. Yet, there are some things that I believe hold true for everyone when it comes to being one's self...

Being yourself happens when you realize how much God loves you.

I believe that is why being yourself happens so easily at the Swamp. We have a saying at camp to describe this. It occurs around Tuesday or Wednesday, sometimes earlier. Kids start to loosen up and get deep and open their hearts, and before you know it "the world has peeled away."

The heart becomes freer, as kids and adults embrace their true selves. They start to realize that when they are connected with God, only his opinion matters.

In a crowd full of faces, suddenly only God's matters.

Being yourself comes from embracing and accepting your unique characteristics.

God has given us all a unique mix of genes and life situations to form us into the unique individuals we are. None is quite like the other, just like a snowflake. Psalm 139, verses 13 to 14 talk about God's investment in our individual lives.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

God is so intimately invested in each of us, and he has been since the beginning of our existence. He wants each of us to know Him and to be able to embrace the amazing person he made us to be, whether it be loud or quiet, goofy or serious, artistic or athletic, or any other unique combination of characteristics.

God has to love seeing us smile and be ourselves!

To close out, I want to quote my friend Dylan Chisolm's words about being yourself. He is a loved counselor at Camp Swamp, and he is known for playing guitar on the gazebo, hosting ping pong tournaments, and being himself. His words do a great job of summing up why we should be ourselves based on the depth of God's love for us.

"2 Peter 3:9- "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." Long ago, before God set the conceptual progression of physical existence we know as "time" into motion, he knew he wanted you, with all your imperfections, and he knew what he had to do to make sure he'd have a chance at having a relationship with you. And he decided he was more than willing to do it. That it'd be worth it even if you turned out to be the only one who'd reciprocate his love.           He's been waiting on you for thousands of years, and he's so happy to call you his child. Jesus is so happy to call you sister [or brother]. To call you his bride. When you get a free moment, listen to A Thousand Years (yes, the one from the Twilight soundtrack) but meditate on the lyrics as Jesus' thoughts about his situation and you as he prays in the garden in the first verse and goes through with the cross in the second verse.    I want to encourage as many people as I can with this, cuz I literally cried so much last night over how much Jesus loves me. Christina Perri: Linked here"

Thank you to Dylan for those wise words about how important we each are to God.

Well, that is it for this week! I hope you will embrace your true self this week, for you are very much worth it to God. Until next time!

Much Love & Respect,

Julie