What is so special about Camp Tapawingo?
Every Sunday night, we gather together in the chapel for announcements before our week of fun begins. Miss Joy encourages us all to get the most we can out of the week to come. We promise to love one another as Jesus does, to abstain from gossip, to include everyone, and to treat one another like those made in the image of God. We choose to stop pretending and to start becoming who God wants us to be. Everyone is excitedly anticipating what is to come this week at camp. This camp has a legacy, and there is a reason for that. Before heading out to hear the gospel message on the rocks at sunset, Miss Joy asks, “What makes Tapawingo special to you?” Hands fly up in the air from shining faces all throughout our beautiful chapel building.
“The activities,” said one Oklahoma camper.
From fun banana boating, to accurate archery shots, to silly swimming games, there is such a wide variety of things to do and ways to grow at Tapawingo. We encourage excellence in everything we do, and we have badges to measure that! You can earn a basic, advanced, and master’s badge in each activity area. One of my campers got her MASTER’S in wildlife yesterday, which is a huge accomplishment. We seek to do everything excellently with each other and with God. Day hikes to mountaintops, sleepouts under the stars, and overnight hikes to beautiful ponds are always fan favorites and bonding for the cabins at Tapawingo. Event hours like “Capture the flag” or “counselor hunt” bring the camp together for some competitive fun. But are the activities what make Tapawingo most special? Although they are a huge part of camp, I don’t think we’ve hit it yet. Let’s keep digging…
“The community, the people,” said another camper from Oneida.
We love and celebrate each other well here. We have songs for every occasion imaginable. When someone has a birthday, we sing. When someone earns a badge, we sing. When someone skis around the island, we sing. When we want to show our love for someone, have them tell a story, or do a dance, we sing. We sing praises to the Lord all day long, at every meal, and every event throughout the day. Wednesday nights are one-on-ones between campers and counselors; a space for campers to talk about whatever is on their heart and to be encouraged and listened to by someone who loves them. There are a lot of awesome people on this island who love Jesus and want to see other people know and love Jesus. It is a really rare and special thing to be in community with people whose hearts are all chasing after the one and most important thing. Is it the people that make Tapawingo so special? Sometimes I think that may be it, but then I remember there is something better. What else could it be?
“The things we learn,” said a camper from Shoshone.
Tapawingo is filled with so many women of God who are constantly pouring out their wisdom and words from the Lord for the campers every summer. From morning and evening devotionals, power hour teachings, and vesper services at night, we learn a LOT about God in everything we do. This week, Miss Joy talked about God as our Father and our first identity in Him as His daughters. We heard from Miss Chloe in vespers last night about our inability to be a “perfect” Christian. There is no right way to do it, and we do not have to feel shame when we do not meet our own or other’s expectations for our walks with God. He loves us anyway and has immeasurable grace for us. He just asks that we seek His face. Is it even the nuggets of wisdom and knowledge we take with us from this place that make Tapawingo what it is? No! That’s not it either!
Here is really what makes Tapawingo special…it is the one constant, the one thing that NEVER changes about this place. It is not the buildings, or the things we do, or the people here, or even what we learn during our time at camp that make it special. It isn’t even the island itself, although it is so crazy cool that I get to take a boat to work and to live on an island completely surrounded by incredible mountains all summer. What makes Tapawingo the special place that it is, is Jesus! It is Jesus Christ, our best friend, the Savior of all who put their faith and trust in His saving power, and that is a beautiful thing. He is unchanging and dependable. That is what makes Tapawingo special, and we would not want it any other way. Thank you, Jesus, for being in this place, and for being perfect Love.