By Rick Kern
In biblical times, names were tied to identities. For example in Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob wrestled with God all night and wouldn’t let Him go unless He blessed him. The blessing was a new name — Israel, and yet it was more than a moniker, it was an identity. Jacob means “one who supplants,” it described who he was and was not exactly a compliment. However, Israel, on the other hand means, “he who strives with God” and it is quite fitting after an entire night of struggling with the Lord until He blessed Jacob.
Similarly, Camp Li-Lo-Li also has a name that reflects its identity: “Life, Love, and Light of God,” and that is exactly who they are. The solace of a serene, secluded rural setting provides much needed relief from the high-charged pressurized atmospheres kids of all ages are forced to grow up in today. Li-Lo-Li is a cell phone free zone as children trade video games, Facebook, and the Web for sleeping beneath the stars, going fishing, and filling their faces with s’mores around the campfire. And while they are certain to broaden their horizons, they are even more certain to grow closer to the Lord.
In its six-plus decades Camp Li-Lo-Li has invested its heart and soul in fulfilling its mission to “…present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of God’s Word to children, youth, and families in a rural camp setting.” They offer several imaginative programs including: a Family Week, a number of Pre-Teen Weeks, Teen Weeks, a Counselor in Training Session (CIT), a Family Weekend, an Adventure Trip, and more. And all while creating a supportive environment where campers can ask questions, build friendships, and increase their knowledge of the Word of God.
“With Li-Lo-Li and probably most other camps, it’s an opportunity to be out in the outdoors,” observes Jon Benson, the camp’s director. “Not to be tied to technology and to be able to have different experiences than most kids would have and most families would have. It means getting away from all the things that normally tie them down and being able to be among God’s creations and all the different, fun activities that are available in this sort of session.”
That would be true, whether young people attended a Christian camp or a non-Christian camp but Li-Lo-Li’s identity is such that it offers a spiritual component which makes a profound difference. “Having all of that and then on top of it, being able to have the spiritual content and allowing people in that place of not being tied down to all of the electronics, the business of life and kind of being sequestered into God’s nature, it allows you the opportunity to hear the truth, to hear the Word of God and to hear from the Lord himself,” says Benson. “It just allows Him to speak into your life in different ways.”
On the practical side, the camp is upgrading some of its facilities to assure an exceptional camping experience for participants and to strengthen its ability to fulfill its mission. For example, they have built a new craft cabin. The old craft cabin served Li-Lo-Li well for many decades, but the time had come to replace it. In addition to being in disrepair, there were other concerns that needed to be addressed. For example, during craft times, it was often overcrowded, and the crafting area was not large enough to get out of the rain or other inclement weather. On top of that, access to the storage area in the attic was prohibitive.
In contrast, the design of the new craft cabin was well thought out allowing all of the campers and staff to work in the same area — at tables under a large pavilion-style roof. There will also be garage doors on one side that can be lowered for protection during bad weather, and many other practical improvements. And, when it’s not craft time, the pavilion area of the craft cabin can be used for other things, such as Bible studies, prayer times, and getting out of stormy weather (or too much sunshine for that matter), as well as winter storage.
Li-Lo-Li has also launched a major renovation using an existing foundation to build a staff cabin. “It is similar to the director’s cabin in that it has two separate sides, each accessible by an exterior door on the east side,” says Benson. “Each side will be able to house several people, and each side will have its own bathroom with shower, sink, and toilet.” The design allows for multiple housing options, whether for use by male and female staff on opposite sides, all one gender on both sides, or for married couples, families, or speakers. Its flexibility also promises to be an asset during retreats and winter camps.”
The list goes on as Li-Lo-Li builds new structures to better enable them to build new lives. “The roof of the store has been replaced, and we’re working on the road drainage issue, to prevent flooding the store basement,” Benson notes. “Be praying for our Camp employees and volunteers as they labor to complete these projects while cold weather sets in,” he adds.
Additionally, he affirms that a sizeable project is hopefully on the horizon. “It’s some sort of sports pavilion/gym facility and Lord willing, maybe we can start work on that in the fall. But obviously, the final plans and costs will help determine whether or not it is going to be possible right now.”
Whatever new changes Camp Li-Lo-Li and its staff are pursuing; they are all to further its original purpose which is timeless and bears repeating: “to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of God’s Word to children, youth, and families in a rural camp setting.” All the activities, amenities, and upgrades from the zip line to the pool to the new craft cabin, are there to win souls and strengthen hearts. Benson weighs in, “I would trust we’re all operating with the single mind of making disciples, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word of God. I just think that is what might differentiate us — the different activities that we do offer ultimately help and support the mission of making disciples.”
What Camp Li-Lo-Li is confusing; it’s a fantastic Christian camp plain and simple. Who it is can be found in its name and is best described by Jon Benson. “Ultimately, it’s the Life, Love and Light of Christ. In Him was life, the life was the light of men, He is the light of the world, here in His love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us. So it’s all reflected around the person of Christ in His mission and in God’s desire for a relationship with mankind.”
He goes on, “So He brings light, He demonstrates love, and He sheds light on His Word and from this world, from this earth that we live in, to know and be able to see God. All of our ministry and particularly, for our camp sessions. We’ll be focused on demonstrating all three of those. You can have life in Christ. You can know the love of God through Christ and you can shine forth the light through Christ for the world around us.”
To learn more visit their website at www.liloli.org or call them at (716) 945-4900.