Hi Swamp Blog Readers,

I hope you're having a great Monday!

Quick announcement about the Father Son Retreat: This weekend will be the Father Son Retreat, which coincides with the Superheroes4Orphans Walk 2018. The good news is you don't have to choose one over the other, because Swamp will be partnering with them and synchronizing their own optional walk Saturday at the retreat. You can still come to the retreat and help support orphans in Africa. Click here to learn how to participate, and click here to see details and register for the 2018 Father Son Retreat.

A Night of Honor

During summer camp, we have the privilege of listening to awesome devotionals every night of the week. Some we get to experience year after year like the starlight devotional, singing devotional, ring of honor, and now Taboo Tuesday. (If you don't know what Taboo Tuesday is, ask a recent camper!) These devotionals are special to many campers, and they've become an important part of the culture of camp.

One devotional that is close to many hearts is the ring of honor. In the past few years, the ring of honor has expanded to include the mingle of honor, which is a time for boys and girls to encourage each other in a totally pure and friendly way. If you've never gotten to experience it, it is super awesome!

I've never been able to experience the boys' ring of honor, but I know that the girls' ring of honor is really something special. The sharing begins with Mrs. Jenn, who shares with a camper or counselor, who shares with someone else, and so on and so forth until the boys make their way back to the porch for the mingle of honor. The sharing is just a time to encourage one another and let each other know that we are thankful for them.

Mrs. Jenn always ends the devotional with a tried and true scripture, Hebrews 3:13:

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

She reminds us to take this practice with us into our everyday lives, so that we don't grow tired of striving to be set apart from the world and love God.

Not even a language barrier can stop the ring of honor; a translator translates words of encouragement from an English-speaking camper to a Spanish-speaking camper during a ring of honor in Nicaragua.

And, every year there is a different charm, which she gives to certain groups she wants to honor, such as those who have chosen to be teenage disciples and the older women serving at camp. This past summer it was an apple, which represented God keeping us as the apple of his eye.

Afterwards, the Mingle of Honor starts on the front porch. Mr. Jeff always challenges the camp beforehand to treat each other with pure motives and to be different from the world in our boy/girl relationships. At the end, he gives his famous advice for how to deal with awkwardness in guy/girl relationships: "Stop it!"

The mingle of honor is also a time we get to encourage others we didn't get to encourage in the ring of honor. Honestly, sometimes the mingle of honor can remind me of Heaven, because some of the conversations and encouragement have helped heal my soul and motivate me to keep going and trying in my walk with God.

Tears shared during a mingle of honor.

Another amazing thing is the way the ring of honor can bridge the gap between genders and ages. The boys in cabin eight have the chance to share with the girls in cabin one they've gotten to play board games and play limbo challenges with. It is really something out of this world.

Honoring Each Other Daily

The ring of honor is an amazing experience that has helped many of us and built our confidences. However, it can easily slip our minds to encourage each other like that when we are busy, struggling with sin, or miles and miles apart from our closest friends.

One scripture that comes to my mind is Proverbs 3:27:

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,  when it is in your power to act." Proverbs 3:27

I don't know exactly what "good" this is referring to, but when I read it, I think of holding back words of honor. If we admire something noble or Godly that someone else is doing, it is probably because God wants us to encourage them by telling them about it.

Encouragement can cause great connection.

So, if you see someone do something selfless, tell them. If you think a leader has grown in their speaking ability, tell them. If you admire someone's integrity, let them know. We can experience the ring of honor everyday, by taking a moment to let someone know they are not alone in striving to do the right thing.

Thank you all for reading this week! You all encourage me when you tell me you read this blog, and when I see you guys striving to love God daily. Check back in next week. There will be a different kind of blog that I think you'll enjoy. :)

Until next week...

Much Love & Honor,

Julie