Impact Stories

Raised by the Village

I would like to describe myself as compassionate, caring, and hardworking, which in a lot of ways I am, but in other ways I can be lazy, sarcastic, and selfish. Despite these real-life traits, when I am desperately needed, I always try to deliver.

I remember growing up in the Flathead Lake Methodist community. My family says I was raised by a village that mostly resides in our camp community. When I first came to camp it was to spend time with my very extended family. I didn’t quite realize the Spirit was using those people to shape my life.

As I grew older, people I knew moved on and the place grew older, which made me sad. I had a rough time with that change. Then my youth pastor, who volunteered every now and then at camp, prayed with me and it started me on a deeper spiritual journey and understanding of camp. Looking back, I guess you could say I went to Camp for family and friends, but stayed for the Spirit, even if that is super cliche and cringy to say.

I still remember the times when things were rough for me, but after realizing the Spirit’s presence and how we need a community to live a happy life, I started to see the camp and the world in a much different and better view. The number one thing this spiritual journey has led me to is an understanding of how to open my eyes to all things and people. The most important lesson I have learned so far is even if you feel alone, you are loved. 

On this journey, there are times when I think that a sermon or lesson doesn’t apply to me. What I love most is camp ministry is that it recognizes this and confronts it head-on. The way camp staff and volunteers present these stories, sermons, or lessons is always engaging. One of my strongest beliefs in life is to learn from everywhere. Camp staff and volunteers are bringing something special from their own lives into the spiritual components of camp and God uses those. 

As I look toward the future of our camp, I have a lot of hopes for Flathead. I would say my biggest hope is as we grow and become a bigger and better camp while holding to its value- no matter who or what you believe, you are welcome to our camp and are welcome into our community. We invite others to challenge us and grow with us. As with any values or morals, you should not hold on to them if they cannot be challenged. As hate continues to infest our world there should be a place where we can come together and have a good, connected community, and that is my greatest hope for Flathead.

Story told by Carsten Straub