Dave is on his way to Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talledega, AL today to begin his first week of Camp with Student Life. He’ll be doing 2 back to back camps. Below are his comments about how he feels about starting camp.
Camp is the best and worst thing about my summer. It’s kind of like working out. I’m really glad that I did it once it’s done. In fact, even once I get there it feels good to be in the gym as long as no one is being too critical about my performance. But the anticipation is torture. The same way a run hangs over my head during the day long before I actually put the shoes and shorts on to take it—so the anxiety of camp season lingers in the soul of the camp pastor. You want to have something to say—not just something that is warmed over from previous summers. But you also want to be funny and engaging and concise. And to be honest it is not always easy to be fresh and still be all of those things—especially when a thousand people are staring you in the face and expecting you to be all of those things. Even if you are, it is hard not to be a little scared the first week when you finally get to see if people will respond the way you hope they will to the stuff that you think is pretty good in your mind.
People fear public speaking more than death for a reason. Yes, the shadow land between the communicator’s mind and the people’s ears is filled with all sorts of anxiety. It’s different than weekend or conference travel too. Four messages are just easier to prepare than nine. Illustrations right now are precious pearls that I would be willing to sell everything to obtain—thanks Jesus. Calm seems a million miles away. And then there’s that other side of things—the part of your brain that tells you—It’s just camp. Being thirty three years old and having 15 years or so of camp experience I should know that by now. Billions of people will never know whether I “succeeded” this week at camp or not. And even if I do succeed, that success is not the measure that I want to be measured by any way. I just don’t want to be one of those guys whose whole value or worth is determined by what some teenagers thought about him or her. I want my value to come from things that are a whole lot better than that—what my God, my family and my friends think about me. Which, by the way, brings up a whole different set of issues.
Part of me hates the thought of saying good bye today. Yes, the family will be coming with me next week but I really love my girls. I love playing with them and hanging out with them and right now eight days without them feels like forever—ok that’s all I can write about that right now with out getting too teary eyed.
So, today I’m getting ready to go to camp and really just one thing is on my mind. Camp is not an exercise to accomplish. It’s not a test to pass or a grade to make. Camp is people. It is really just a bunch of people taking time to come and hear a word from God. It’s not my words they need. It’s God they need to speak. And it’s not my success I need. It’s God I need. My job is really just to be a person who overhears what God is saying and passes that word to someone who desperately needs to hear it—and not just in my talks either but in all my conversations.
See I know by now that my time off the stage may be even more important than my time on it. Students and adults don’t need another superstar beyond their reach. They need someone they can touch and rub shoulders with. They need someone who takes them and their journey seriously and is walking with God close enough to know whether to just listen or give insight. They need someone who cares enough to be real, authentic and honest with them. They need inspiration. They need encouragement. They need their thoughts disturbed and provoked. And so today I’m trying to remember that as I put the finishing touches on my stuff that this week what I really need to be is a person.
Here is Dave’s Summer Schedule:
Dave Rhodes : Speaking Schedule
|Student Life Junior High Camp||June 5-8||
|Student Life Youth Camp||June 9-13||Talladega, AL|
|First Baptist Tifton Youth Camp||June 16-20||Daytona Beach, FL|
|Tennessee Baptist Convention Super Summer||June 23-27||
|Student Life Kids Camp||June 30-July 3||
|Student Life Youth Camp||July 7-11||
|Student Life Kids Camp||July 21-24||Talladega, AL|
|Student Life Kids Camp||July 24-27||Talladega, AL|
|Student Life Youth Camp||July 28-August 1||Lookout Mountain, GA|