With school out, dad and son work at youth camps

For Del and Daniel Gray, June marks a time for making and recalling memories of time spent at summer camps.

Earlier this month, the father-son duo headed to Colorado for five days at Snow Mountain Ranch, a YMCA camp near Winter Park for the Southern District Mennonite Brethren Youth grades nine to 12.

While 16-year-old Daniel was one of about 200 campers in attendance, Del was the keynote speaker June 6-10.

Then, later this week, Del will drive his son to central Minnesota so Daniel can volunteer with an eight-week program at Trout Lake Camps, where in the past Del and wife Debbie served as directors for one of the camps.

When it came to making plans for summer, Del, who teaches Bible and religious studies at Tabor College during the school year, said he initially was hesitant to agree to be the MBY camp speaker, even though as a college student he ad filled such a role.

It was Daniel who encouraged him to accept the invitation.

?I know he?s a good speaker and all,? Daniel said about his father. ?And I wanted to see what it would be like having my dad there (at camp).?

With the camp theme ?Uncommon,? Del said he focused on the uncommon problem Christians face with society?s increasing negativity toward Christians and the church?yet at the same time, society?s fascination with Jesus.

?It?s a strange situation we?re in,? Del said, ?that our relationship to our society at large is becoming more alienated and (even hostile), and the problem that presents for us being the church in the world and what we can do about it.?

With that vision in mind, Del said he focused on presenting ?a really positive, compelling, engaging vision of Christianity?so that we present not what we stand against, but what we?re for that will be attractive to the world.?

On June 19, Daniel is scheduled to begin his responsibilities at the camping facilities near Pine River, Minn.

The camp belongs to the Baptist General Conference, the denomination in which Daniel?s parents grew up.

?It?s a really strong, established camping program there,? Del said. ?They own multiple camps and have full-time, year-round staff.?

Daniel will work for the Missionary Apprenticeship Team program at two camps that are part of the Trout Lake Camps complex.

?It?s like an internship,? he said. ?They have a policy where they shift the job every week. The camp that I?ll be at will depend on the job.?

Daniel?s responsibilities could range from working with maintenance to counseling to cooking on the kitchen galley staff.

The purpose of the MAT program is to build leadership and responsibility and expose youth to ministry, he said.

Last summer, Daniel worked at Trout Lake for three weeks under the same program.

?I was doing random stuff that keeps the place running?from hauling tires…to changing light bulbs,? he said.

He spent one week as assistant counselor for 9- to 11-year-old boys.

?I was helping but I wasn?t full in charge,? he said. ?That?s really stressful because you?re looking after 10 kids.?

One challenge Daniel anticipates this year is being hampered by an injury he received near the end of school when he broke several bones in his foot.

?They?ll probably have to give me a job that is less physical,? he said, adding that he?ll be wearing a boot cast for part of the summer.

?One of the camps is ridiculously hilly,? he added.

Daniel said he?s anticipating reconnecting with the friends he made last year.

?So, I?m excited to go,? he said.

Last year, it was Daniel?s parents who prodded him to work at the Minnesota camp.

?We actually initiated it,? Del said. ?We have had a lot of camping experience.?

Much of those experiences have been associated with Trout Lake Camps.

?We thought it would be really good for Daniel to experience a real, full-time professional camping program,? Del said. ?We had to push him into it a little, at first. But we knew it was going to be a great experience for him.?

As Del paused, he looked at his son and added, ?We were right and we like to hold that over him.?

Daniel looked at his dad and smiled,?Yeah, they were right.?

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