Summer camp is a mountaintop. Not a literal one. If you’ve been to Camp Wyoming, you know that while we do have some steep hills, there are no mountains here. However, this is a place where people often find themselves on the mountaintop of faith.
What does that mean? This expression comes from Matthew chapter 17 when Jesus takes three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, high up on a mountain. There before them, he is transfigured. The Scripture says that his face shone like the sun and his clothes were as white as light. If that wasn’t amazing enough, Jesus is joined by two Old Testament heroes: Moses and Elijah. Peter, instead of falling on his face in amazement like you would expect, responds in a surprising casual (albeit clueless) way, and offers to build three shelters for the men before him.
Suddenly, the top of the mountain is flooded with light. They are covered with a bright cloud, and the voice of God thunders from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Now the disciples fall facedown on the ground. They are terrified. But Jesus touches their heads and tells them to get up and not be afraid. When they raise their faces, the light is gone. Jesus the man stands before them. They walk together back down the mountain, but they are not the same.
What does this have to do with summer camp? No, kids aren’t actually meeting the incarnate Christ while they are here with the voice of God speaking from above. However, Peter recounts this story again in the book of 2 Peter chapter 1. He compares his experience at the transfiguration of Jesus with the experience we have reading God’s Word. Peter speaks as if these experiences are comparable. Just like Peter saw and heard the majesty of God on the mountain, so do we when we open up our Bibles.
The light that radiated from the face of Jesus is the same light that is spoken about in Genesis when God says, “Let there be light.” It’s the same light that lit the burning bush and pillared in fire to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. It’s the same light that will one day wash over all creation, setting the world afire with the glory of God but not consuming it. Amazingly, when we read the Word of God, the majestic glory of God speaks to us through the Spirit. Hearing and encountering the voice of God is to be led to the mountaintop.
That is what happens at camp. Kids come for a week of fun and a chance to be with friends, but they also sit down, open up the Bible, and interact with its pages. Scripture comes alive in a new way in this place set apart, this place of conversation, story, prayer, and learning. While it may not be an audible voice thundering from the sky, they hear the Spirit of God whispering to their hearts and see the light of the majesty of God shining. At the end of the week, they walk back down the mountain, but they are not the same.
This is what it means to be on the mountaintop at camp. We want kids to have an experience that changes them so that when they leave, they leave marked, set apart, and ready to bring the light of Christ into the world. It is an experience they can look back on, draw strength from, and that will launch them into lives of service, ministry, and love. We invite you to join us this summer on the mountaintop.