Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Warrior Camp Update: Anniversary Edition!

Warrior Camp Team,

Hello all and Cead Mile Failte! I hope this Warrior Camp Update finds you well. If you're reading this, it's either because you're on our Warrior Camp Team, you've given me advice, or because you're one of my friends or family who I think will enjoy hearing what's new with our camping ministry.

This update is a special and celebratory one, because this month, September 2008, marks the 1 year anniversary for Warrior Camp! It was an early and unexpected opportunity that God opened to us 12 months ago, and a beautiful Saturday, September 8, 2007 marked the first Warrior Camp in world history, where 17 young warriors in the great Northwest showed up for a day-long blitz packed out with making swords, capture the flag, team slayer, sword combat training, raft relay races, Scottish Highland Games, Scavenger Hunting, the masterpiece of messy (aka “Gladiator”), great food, prayer, encouragement and discipleship in growing into a radical young man after God’s own heart. (If you want to relive the experience on our 1 year anniversary, go ahead! Check out the immortalized “Warrior Camp Pics” at http://warriorcamp1.googlepages.com).

Now normally, our updates to you provide a snapshot of what we’re working on for the near future, as well as the latest on how the Warrior Camp ball is gaining momentum and rolling forward. This update will be different, and I can think of no better time to be encouraged and reminded of where God has brought us from and how He has blessed our effort. So without further adieu, I hope you enjoy this Warrior Camp Update…Anniversary Edition!

#1: An early lesson from an unexpected, yet smash-hit maiden voyage
It would be wrong to say that we were ready to host Warrior Camp in September of 2007. Personally, my summer calendar had little room for anything else besides the annual family camping trip, possibly trimming my Grandpa’s hedges, but most pressingly, wrapping up my thesis, which was ripe for completion. Looking back however (which is often the way it works!) I can see God’s provision for Warrior Camp, and this before we were even ready or praying for an opportunity. So when the opportunity came, we had to act fast. Sell it to the students, inform the parents, plan the day, make flyers, create the games, somehow get all the game equipment we need and, most importantly, sculpt the discipleship…all in 2 weeks! It was a rush, but as we found out later, went over even bigger than we thought with the Warriors, who months later continue to tell me they still have their sword and want to go to Warrior Camp 2! But after we had dropped all the students off at the end of Warrior Camp, it was one of those priceless moments where, sitting in the driver’s seat with your head back, you’re in speechless awe at the goodness and grandness of God. From the beginning, Warrior Camp has begun and emerged from vision to reality through the activity of an awesome God.

#2: Why we do what we do
I actually didn’t find out until a few weeks after our first Warrior Camp had concluded, but one of our churched warriors (we’ll call him Brian) had invited one of his non-Christian friends (aka “Tony”) to Warrior Camp, even though Tony had never even been to the attending church’s youth group before. It’s a humbling testimony of praise to God that we got to plant a seed, which over the next few weeks would be watered in Tony’s heart. Tony is now a growing Christian and a regular face at youth group. In the final moments of Warrior Camp, two other students expressed a fresh desire to get back into the Word shortly before we closed out our day in group prayer on the beach. When we received additional feedback through brief survey, it was encouraging to read their responses, and many other Warrior Campers testified to having grown closer to God through the discipleship = mission accomplished.

#3: Not a solo flight!
Since our first Warrior Camp, a team of spiritually mature, like-minded men have rallied behind Warrior Camp in one way or another. Though the monthly updates may have my name at the bottom, I stand arm in arm with a team I’m really excited about, and who, around early March 2008, got together for a big chunk of time, scoped out a potential Warrior Camp Destination, and who shared a new vision together. Our combined strengths were a surprising blend that included extended ministry involvement, speaking, mentoring, relationship building, discipleship methodology, game innovation, orienteering, navigation, and ropes course skills, camp experience, collegiate preparation, and … heavy combat expertise in the SCA! And yet we were all energized by the distinctive themes of Biblical Masculinity, Chivalry, Integrity, Medieval themes, Warrior themes, and living Wild at Heart before an awesome God. Since then, interest has continued to grow, and it’s not uncommon for me to be encouraged by another brother in Christ who hears about Warrior Camp and quickly volunteers to help!

#4: Location and provision
Close to 2 years ago, a friend invited me to visit her church. The message and fellowship were great, and after the service, she introduced me to the Senior Pastor. During our conversation, he asked me about future plans, and...you guessed it, Warrior Camp dominated my answer. To make a long story short, he hooked me up with his brother, who has 200 acres of farm and ranch land in Lynchburg , and who, apparently, was eager for some sort of ministry or camp vision to be implemented on his property. Since then, we’ve been able to meet the owner, visited the property as a team, and envision all the exciting things his land would allow us to do. Since then, a second owner with beautiful property has indicated a desire for his land to be used for ministry. Others have expressed interest in supporting Warrior Camp in other ways. Moral of the Story: God provides!

#5: Online presence
Since our first Warrior Camp, we’ve created an online face for our ministry and given it multiple (and beneficial) facelifts! The website contains highlight pics, a quick look at what goes on at Warrior Camp, a youth pastor link, a discussion boards link, our vision statement, Bible verses, our signature game and rallies arsenal, the Warrior’s reading list, Warrior Surveys, an online Catapult Game, and more. Warrior Camp also has a Facebook and Instant Messenger profile which will allow Warrior Campers to interact online with each other and with Warrior Camp leaders, no matter where they are. Warrior Camp Myspace and the Warrior Camp Promo Video are both on the horizon, so stay tuned.

#6: A distinct fingerprint
Since our first Warrior Camp, our Gaming Scientists have been nose to the grindstone mixing chemicals in order to find the holy grail of epic fun. The Warrior Camp faculty of Discipleship Professors have also been working overtime as they set about with fresh purpose in prayerfully envisioning a ministry methodology of maximum impact for young men that breaks defunct molds and invents more effective wheels. They are still at work, and so your prayers and praises are greatly appreciated as we proceed onward. However, Warrior Camp has been making significant progress behind the scenes in this regard, and, like previously wet concrete, is beginning to solidify with its own unique and distinguishing features. Unfortunately spiritual, moral, and gender confusion among youth is prevalent and deserves a sober response, especially as these have led to a breakdown in young male leadership, damaging misconceptions about God, mediocre relationships, misdirection, and unnecessary slavery to sin. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that some loud voices have emasculated Johnny Doe by always telling him to sit still, be domesticated, and color pink butterflies. Not on our watch. At Warrior Camp, Johnny is encouraged to be a boy, play hard, laugh hard, and to channel his fuel into living distinctively for an awesome God who made him and loves him. Keep our efforts in prayer!

#7: The cutting edge
We've recently submitted one of our signature man-crafts from the Warrior Camp Weapon Workshop to a toy lliason and marketing company for patenting and possibly for mass production. It's an exciting opportunity for Warrior Camp and you're invited to pray about it with us!

I hope you’re as encouraged as I am that like a 1 year old child, Warrior Camp is crawling less and beginning to walk more. Only God could have brought us this far, this fast, and with a mission this great.

Grow Strong,

Derek Bartlow

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