This post is from my first book, Stories from the Creekbank.
Most Likely to Succeed
It was Saturday in the middle of the busy summer camp season. After a great week of youth camp, I was enjoying lunch with some of our summer staff. Across the dining hall, a group from East Beauregard High was having their ten-year class reunion. I enjoyed watching them as they laughed and visited after being apart for a decade. All of these guests were former students from my years as a high school teacher and administrator. As I observed them, my mind drifted back to so many warm memories of seeing them grow up.
A group of these former students came over to me with an old, tattered, red yearbook. They giggled as they showed me a picture from twenty-five years ago. There I was sitting on a stack of encyclopedias in my early 1970’s bellbottoms. Under the picture of me and one of my lifelong friends was the caption:
Senior Boy and Girl voted Most Likely to Succeed
The staffers sitting around me really enjoyed the picture. Especially my long hair! I’m still amazed at pictures from that time period when I realize how long we wore our hair then. It was hard for this group of staffers to believe their bald middle‑aged director once had long hair and bangs!
Well, the former students left, laughing, hunting someone else to embarrass. All of the summer staff returned to eating what was probably our twentieth hamburger lunch of the summer.
Then I couldn’t help it…. I turned to these staffers and said, “Well, can you believe someone selected “Most likely to succeed” by his classmates would end up being just an old camp manager?” Their reply was immediate and impassioned. It was best stated by Wendy, our recreation director who has worked at Dry Creek for four years: “Bro. Curt, what could be more successful than being involved in seeing lives changed daily by the Lord?” One by one they chimed in on the opportunities we have at camp to be a direct part of what God is doing.
I smiled at their reply because I felt the same way. More than anything to me, success is to be a part of where God is working—and I’ve never seen a place where He works more consistently than camps. I recalled the past week when over forty young people accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, and many others made life‑changing commitments.
I thought about Wendy. How I’ve watched God work in her life through camp over a period of years. As a result of this experience, she is in seminary seeking God’s will on a vocation in the camping ministry.
Then I thought back to an event in my life that happened about the time of my bell‑bottomed, long‑haired picture. I was at summer camp—youth camp at Dry Creek—the same camp where I now serve as director. God really spoke to my life and heart concerning giving my vocational choice to His will. During the invitation time, in a moment that is still clear in my mind, I went to the front of the Tabernacle and simply told God, “I’m ready to do whatever You want me to do. Just lead and I’ll follow.” Little did I know that decision would eventually lead me back to manage the very camp I grew up in.
If you measure success by large bank accounts, titles before and after names, or worldly fame, I’m not much of a success. But if true success is measured in feeling you are making a positive difference, and having a small part in seeing God work miracles in people’s lives, and watching the Wendys of this world grow into Christian leaders, then I guess you could say I am very successful.
I’m so thankful God has given me the privilege of being part of the camping ministry. What a joy to be on the cutting edge of what He is doing! Each day I get to serve Him. Yes, most of the time it is not glorious and sometimes frustrating—but I’m in a place where I know He is working, and I have the awesome opportunity to be a part of it all.