Hidden in a valley in Cleveland National Forest is the Lazy W Ranch Camp.
Owned and operated by the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, they rent out for different Methodist events. The only ones I am familiar with are the Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High Camps. I think I went to an elementary camp in 6th grade, but I don't remember my past (who would want to?) except for that I attended Senior High Camp in 2000, 2002 and this year (2003 for those of you who are bad with numbers). These events were fun because you got to get away from it for a week (which is a policy I only used last year and this year, the other times I brought up electronic devices of all sorts) and get back to nature and to God. The thing I'm leading up to is this theory I figured out (with the help of a youth pastor named G-Rhymez) at a Young People's Convention earlier this year. It's that each and every one of us is like a cup (spiritually). Now the cup fills itself with God's love and fills up whenever you go to youth events and sing songs or learn about the word of God. But as you continue through your life, your cup starts to drain out because the real world isn't like Church camp or Christian conventions. The real world beats you down. But if you live the life God wants you to live and show others how to save themselves, then you are letting your cup overflow with God's love and into other people's cups. This is now the way that I try to live my life. But you also have to understand that you can't always do that. We're human . . . we screw up (a lot!). God understands that, which is why he sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Here's my other analogy for living as a Christian: you're traveling up a steep rocky path from which it is very easy to stumble, but God is always there to lend a helping hand. All you have to do is reach for it. So that's how I try to live as a Christian. Wanna give it a shot?
Every year, worship singing was led by Matt Neely (click for official site), a phenomenal singer, song-writer, story-teller with life-changing lyrics. Also known as the Barefoot Pastor. One of the most exciting things I've ever seen him do was during Camp 2002, when he told us about the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus explained the beatitudes, which were not exactly requirements of Christian living, but more guidelines than actual rules (Pirates rules!). The entire camp was led on a hike up to the Fountain of Youth, where we were instructed to sit in the dirt in a kind of semi-circle around Matt. He came forward and delivered the beatitudes just like Jesus would have. It was really interesting.
Another fun thing about Matt is that he sings not only songs of worship, but sometimes songs that are just really silly. Examples include: "The Box Song", "The Cheese Song", "Grin Again Gang", and "The Wee-Wee Song". The links contain the lyrics which will open up below.