the sebago experience

Ten years ago, I found myself mulling over some different options in regards to how I was going to spend the summer before going to Tyndale. The summer of ’99 at Roblin Lake Camp [R.I.P] has been pretty epic, but I felt pretty sure that my time there had come to an end. I wanted something new, something fresh, and found my gaze drifting south of the border. That spring, I had applied to work at three different camps in the States – one in NY, one in Pennsylvania, and the other in Maine. Having graciously been hired at all three, I had to make a choice, and eventually decided that Northern New England was the place to be.

I distinctly remember the drive down. We weren’t familiar with the best route on this initial voyage [that would be made several times in the future], so the drive took a little longer than expected. I sat in the car thinking to myself that it was downright crazy to spend an entire summer in a strange place where no one even knew my name – what if I didn’t even make one friend? As we drove into the camp and pulled into the parking lot, I remember stepping out of the car, taking a look around and feeling like I had made a huge mistake. I walked into the dining hall, met the camp director and said hello to some peeps, and found out where to dump my stuff. After I said goodbye to my parents, I walked to Sebago Hall for the obligatory icebreakers [which I usually hate], and I distinctly remember making a joke that Joel Lyle thought was pretty funny, and in that moment, all my worries were cast aside. I had made someone laugh, I had a potential new friend, and everything was going to be OK. And that was before learning that a co-counselor in my cabin was a huge hockey fan, leading to many a midnight discussion about how Larry Murphy is the pride of Canada. But I digress.]

And for the most part it was a solid summer. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was the best summer of my life, a reality highlighted by the fact that at one point I was repeatedly listening to a song that contained the line “I can’t wait to get out of here … ” The weather was pretty bad [read: Scottish] for a good week or so, and there was that whole lice ordeal that essentially shut the place down during the biggest week of the summer. There were, however, some pretty special moments contained in those few months. For example, I swam in the ocean for the first time, and even though it was wicked cold in that ‘mighty blue’ water, it was an aspect of God’s creation that I had never had the opportunity to enjoy, and it was awesome. Another major highlight came in the form of an after hours Bible study that took place in the Funhouse with some guys who made a huge impact on my life that summer and in the following three as well. I loved Sunday night Vespers, probably one of my all-time favorite things about Sebago. The camp itself is a beautiful place, and there’s nothing quite like sitting on the end of that dock on a clear night. And, of course, it was a blessing to be able to serve kids who desperately needed a break from the realities of life, and I hope that we as a staff were able to bring some light into their lives and demonstrate the love of Christ to them in meaningful ways.

The biggest thing that came out of that summer was that I learned the value of trusting in God for all things. I had experienced something very special at RLC the summer before in that I made a decision to follow Christ on a more adult level, and that meant being willing to go where He chose to send me, despite all the unknowns. God blessed me with deep friendships and character building situations that were huge for me as I prepared to leave home and head to college, and I believe that those experiences made it possible for me to muster up the faith necessary for much of what I have experienced in the ten years since. In may ways, I have experienced and continue to experience that unease that I felt on that initial drive down, and remained constantly amazed at how God works things out in ways that are far greater than I ever could have imagined.

The funny thing is that I fully expected my Sebago experience to be a one off, but I ended up coming back for three more summers, each with their own respective blessings and challenges. [Just think, if I had never returned, I would never have met the Mackneer’s, and that would have been a tragedy.] Even now, at the beginning of every summer, I still feel the pull of camp, the idea of packing up a few things and heading down to Maine to serve God and enjoy the gift of friendship that can only be built in those kinds of settings. Sebago was very good to me, and I miss it.

So here’s to Camp Sebago. Has it really been ten years? Dang, I feel old.

    • Justina Stickland
    • June 25th, 2010

    if you had not returned, you would have also missed out some some sweet OOB breaks, olympics, free snow cones, etc… I miss it!!

  1. i can picture all these scenes and i love it and miss it too. and yes EVERY summer i feel like i just wanna run away to the woods of maine again and sit on that doc. IM personally so thankful that you decided to go to sebago because it was through that that i eventually went (even though i didnt know you then). so praise the Lord for that awesome season of Canadians at sebago and thanks for being the trail blazer.

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