Friday, November 2, 2012

Summer Camp Humiliation

When Michael was 12 years old he went to summer camp with a friend from another church. At the end of the week Michael's mom picked him up.

It turned out that his camp counselor for the week had been another boy's dad. When Michael's mom asked the man how her son had done at camp, he told her (in front of the little boy and anyone within earshot) that he'd spent quite a bit of time in trouble. His crime? He was throwing rocks at trees.

Well, isn't that what 12-year-old boys do? I understand not wanting others to get hurt, but I'm willing to bet Michael wasn't alone in his rock-throwing.

The volunteer camp counselor then turned his attention to the boy's skateboard shirt. "Look at this shirt", he said to Mom. "Why would you allow your kid to wear something with this message?"  Mom was shocked and Michael was embarrassed by the man's judgmental finger-pointing.  He couldn't find one positive or nice thing to say about the little boy or the week they'd just spent together at a Christian camp.

Michael is now 16 and a junior in high school. This past summer he went back to camp. Once again, his mom dropped him off. The same dad was there - ready to be a volunteer counselor for the week. As soon as Michael spotted the man, he pointed him out to his mom and told her how glad he was that he'd been assigned to a different leader's group.

Like it or not, kids are learning about who Jesus is from us. I don't know whether or not Jesus would've approved of the skateboarder shirt, but I do know that he would've responded lovingly and gently. Jesus doesn't leave us with feelings of dread or condemnation, and he doesn't embarrass us by exposing our faults in public.

Kids often feel that Christian adults don't even like them. I'm willing to bet that in some cases - they're right. Jesus loved the little kids and wanted them close to him - no matter what they were wearing.

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