Welcome to The Academy Camp blog for Endure in SoCal, July 21-27, 2019. Here, you’ll find photos, recordings, and event summaries, made as camp progresses. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and join us for our Saturday events:
What’s an Adult and How do I Help My Kid Become One?
Saturday, July 27
9:00 - 10:00am
The Academy Camp 2019 Closing Ceremony
Saturday, July 27
10:30am - 12:00pm
Lansing Auditorium- Crowell Hall (music building)
Students arrived to a lobby full of games and music, with the Wheatstone staff in camp tees, ready to play. After enjoying one another and loading suitcases into their dorm rooms, students went to meet Peter David Gross, Wheatstone’s Executive Director, and hear his welcome into the week.
He made a commitment not to treat them like kids while they are here, and cast a vision of an adulthood that’s better and more beautiful than childhood or youth could possibly be. He offered a few big questions to consider throughout the week, like: How do we respond to pain in a way that helps us grow, instead of just hurting us? and, How can every pain be made meaningful? Then, after he introduced the staff and shared the camp rules, our Prayer Leader, Juliet San Nicolas de Bradley, dismissed them into their cohorts for the week so they could get to know one another.
It was a delight to walk through Biola’s campus that afternoon, as students sat in the long shadows and introduced themselves to one another. Laughter kept popping up, and intent conversations. Wheatstone’s incredible mentors were leading students gently into new friendships. If they succeed at loving one another and agreeing to grow together, their week will become that much more beautiful.
John Mark Reynolds
After dinner, the whole group returned to our lecture hall to hear from the week’s second keynote speaker, John Mark Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds introduced some of the big ideas of the week, and offered the first of many conversations we’ll have about our theme text: Habakkuk.
He said that Habakkuk is a book of questions, not answers. God is not limited by our radical need to satisfy ourselves with merely practical solutions, and he sees a much bigger picture than our questions ever imply. Second, he pointed out that life always gives us questions, and that part of the gift of community is being able to face those questions from different perspectives, in relationships of love. But since love requires consent, dialogue requires listening and being present with one another. In Habakkuk, God proves his love by not overwhelming the prophet with his omniscience, but remaining present to him. Finally, he reminded us that the universe is far more complex than we could ever realize, but that it shouldn't stop us from seeking each other, because being wrong is not a sin.
Listen to an excerpt for yourself below.
The night ended with a big, dramatic reading of our discussion text for the week, Laches. Mentors dressed up in ridiculous fake togas, students changed into their pjs and brought pillows, and candy got thrown everywhere while we read philosophy together. Maybe that sounds like an odd combination, but it was a lot of fun. And now, all the students will be able to discuss one of the great works of philosophy. We can’t wait to see what ideas they’ll come up with.
Now that we met one another and were introduced to the big ideas of the week, it’s time to learn how to love one another and work together well. That’s why we spend a whole day in which cohorts undertake challenges together, compete against one another, make a group flag, and climb a canyon together to watch the sunset. That’s Epic Monday: our effort to give cohorts everything they need to enjoy one another and work together well for the rest of the week. This year, we spent the whole day at Crystal Cove State Beach.
Surrounded by dolphins, seals, hawks, rays, fish, rabbits, squirrels, and crabs, we built castles, solved riddles, and played carefully-designed games. Epic Monday games aren’t just arbitrary camp activities. Derived from the sorts of things Executive teams use to increase productivity and corporate health, our games are crafted to help students learn how to work together well. Plus they’re a lot of fun.
The Intergroup Games
Once they’ve learned how to work together better, we pit cohorts against one another in a massive competition across the entire beach. From finding their mentor while blindfolded, to tying themselves into knots, to building castles without using their hands or eyes, to solving tricky riddles, the groups are faced with challenge after challenge in an effort to distinguish themselves as the Epic Monday Champions. This year, Kris Yee’s group, the Lions, won the day. They were in sixth place halfway through the competition, but after solving the riddles faster than any other group, they pulled ahead to victory.
After lunch, Peter David Gross gave a seminar on the importance of building communities for growth. He called the students to give one another a chance, loving one another even though love implies the risk of pain. He reminded them that Christians are part of a community that spans past death and unites us with people who’ve been hurt like we were, meeting in prayer at the throne of God.
You can listen to the Q&A session after his seminar below.
Then, students went out to try and make good on his commission. They painted flags that they’ll carry for the rest of the week, and they played games on the beach that they invented themselves. It was a jolly afternoon.
Epic Monday always ends with a hike up to see the sunset. I wish you could have been there as a hundred people sat silently in the wind, with birdsong all around, watching as the sun dipped beneath the waves. When the sun was gone, we all sang Wheatstone’s theme song, the Doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” It’s a beautiful end to a truly Epic Day.
Tomorrow, we dive into discussion and prayer, beauty and film. We’ll keep you updated as camp progresses!