For instance, if your name begins with a K and you’ve ever played a “name game,” you know exactly what I mean. You’re forced to be known as “kooky Katie” or “kangaroo Kurt,” regardless of your goofiness or your affinity for Australian marsupials.
Even within the alphabet (where, by definition, each letter should have equal representation), K is often overlooked. People skip right from J to L without a second thought. This leaves K wondering, perhaps accurately, whether anyone would notice if he simply ceased to exist. Would anyone care if K were to retire, throw in the towel, and move permanently to an assisted living community in sunny Florida?
The answer is yes. Because Kanakuk kares.
Since its founding in 1926, Kanakuk Kamps has been giving the letter K its day in kourt. At every opportunity, Kanakuk utilizes K: K-Rated (instead of G-Rated), Kooks (instead of cooks), Kounselor, Kamper, Kitchen… Oh wait, that’s already with a K. We love the letter K, and we aren’t afraid to use it.
But there is far more to Kanakuk than an unkanny appreciation for the letter K. At Kanakuk, we are krazy and kooky with a purpose: To love kiddos and teach them about Jesus.
So why am I writing you a pitch for Kanakuk? Because this magikal land has an inkredibly special place in my heart and was my home for the last seven weeks. From my first summer as ten-year-old kamper, I knew that I wanted to work as a kounselor. My dream came true after my freshman year of college, and this summer marked my third on staff and my twelfth year at Kanakuk. I love everything about Kamp: from living in teepees (yes, we actually live in teepees!), to helping kids overcome their fear of the blob, from the ridiculous heckles (try counting to 10, and you’ll see what I mean. #owen), to the special way we recite “The Pledge of Allegiance” and everything in between. Some of my best memories and closest friendships were formed here, but not because of the krazy atmosphere. No, because of what Jesus does here.
1. Get uncomfortable… or God will do it for you. God likes to take us just far enough outside of our comfort zone that we can still see it but can no longer reach it. Though it’s difficult and challenging, it’s in this place that we grow the most.
During my first two summers on staff, I was a kounselor for younger girls, ages 10-11 and then 8-9. Although I was initially apprehensive about this age group, I soon loved everything about it. In working with the younger kids, I’d found my element at Kamp. Coming into this summer, I knew I wanted to try something new, so I requested to be a kounselor to older girls, preferably in their late teens. But the Kamp directors—and God—had other plans; they decided to make me a U.C. or Unit Coordinator for teepees 8-10. In non-Kamp terms, I was basically a kounselor to kounselors, and I was in charge of middle-school girls. Completely different from what I had expected? Yep. Outside of my Kanakuk komfort zone? Definitely. But would I have changed anything about it? Not a chance. Through my experiences as a U.C., God stretched me, challenged me, and refined me. He forced me to rely on Him like never before, and although it was often difficult, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
2. Pray expectantly. Because God doesn’t just hear our prayers; He answers them.
Time and time again, God reminded me of this truth. Whether I was praying not to fall asleep while lifeguarding at the pool, or begging God to protect my kampers as I pulled water skiers for the first time, or anything and everything else, God heard and answered every time. This included the smallest of requests, like when I asked God for a sense of humor and then five minutes later was unclogging the most comically-disgusting toilet of my life. And it included big ones too, like when we prayed for unity as a senior kamp girl’s staff, and God made us the tightest-knit group of kounselors that I had ever seen. Big or small, trivial or monumental—God hears and answers them all.
3. Jesus is real. He’s the only One who matters, and living for Him is the only way to find hope and fulfillment.
Coming into this summer, I knew my faith had hit a rough patch. I still believed, but doubts, fears, and questions had crept in and robbed me of my joy. In the words of musician Shawn McDonald, my heart was a desert that had gone dry, and I needed His love to carry me by. So I prayed for restoration, I prayed for healing, but most of all, I prayed to have a childlike faith again. And that, my friends, is exactly what happened.
Unlike other religions which are based on man trying to reach God, in Christianity God sends His Son Jesus Christ, who reaches His loving, healing, and blood-stained hands out to us. To call it a “religion” would be a gross understatement, a misnomer of eternal proportions. It’s not about a religion; it’s no list of do’s and don’ts. No, it’s a relationship with God. The God who created the heavens and the earth, who put the stars in place and calls them each by name, the God who exists outside of time and space, and holds all things together. The God who made you and formed you, who knows everything about you… and loves you anyway. That’s what Christianity is about. And that’s the reason we are here: to have a relationship with our Creator and to praise Him with our lives.
Every week at Kamp, we have a night called Krosstalk during which we present the Gospel story to the kampers. This year was a little different, however, and the night was more of a “Krosswalk” than a Krosstalk. Kampers rotated through seven stations, and at each one they heard from a different Bible character and about how He changed their lives. Most weeks, I simply rotated through the stations with the kampers. But one week was special; I was asked to play Mary Magdalene. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, I’ll briefly recount it. Basically, Mary Magdalene was possessed by demons for many years. No one could cure her, and no one wanted to get close enough to really try. Then Jesus miraculously healed her, and in response, Mary followed Jesus, doing whatever she could to help Him and His disciples. Mary was there when Jesus was crucified; she watched in disbelief as her Healer died. Three days later, she went to the tomb where He was buried, and she was the first to hear the good news: Jesus is alive!
As I recounted Mary’s story, while standing by a fire and dressed in a bed sheet (probably not the safest thing ever), the timeless truth became real to me once more. My Jesus is alive. There is hope in a risen Savior. There is hope because my Jesus is alive!
So whether your name starts with K or Q, whether you’ve been to Kamp or have never even heard of Kanakuk, whether you’re my friend or you stumbled on this blog by accident, know this: Jesus lives. He lives for me, and He lives for you. And the only way your life will count is if you choose to live for Him.
Thanks for reading! God bless! 🙂