GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–A lingering note from the worship song wafted reverently over hundreds of teens at the foot of the stage and faded back through the rest of the chapel. They seemed to collectively hold their breath as if God were walking among them.
The pastor stepped onstage. Seemingly on cue, the students silently moved back to their seats.
“Boy, the pastor gets up here and everyone turns their back and walks away,” said Tony Merida of Hattiesburg, Miss., as laughter erupted, filling the chapel with yet another powerful emotion.
That’s how it is at Centrifuge. It goes from serious to fun and back again at the drop of a hat.
More than 600 teens from throughout the western United States gathered at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M., for a week of Fuge Combo Camp. The combination camp brought M-Fuge, Centrifuge, X-Fuge and X-Fuge on Mission campers together on the same campus.
The stories of Moses came to life through recreation, fellowship, Bible studies and worship as students learned about having “faith to move.” Alicia Claxton, director for this summer’s Glorieta Fuge camps, said that while the stories were familiar to most students, she saw the teens take them to heart in a new light.
“The students see that the stories of Moses relate to life right now, not just back then,” Claxton said. “We ask the kids all week, ‘Are you ready to move?’
“This is a generation that wants to make an impact. I think they are ready to move — in more ways than one,” Claxton said, gesturing to the activity-filled recreation area.
Students in one corner ran flailing their hands wildly in the air as a Fuge staffer made chase in a game of “plagues of Egypt” freeze tag. Seventh-graders quickly named a plague before getting tagged. Some even acted out the plague of choice for greater effect.
In the opposite corner, 12th-graders formed a human ladder, learning it takes teamwork and support to reach each rung. In the middle of the field, ninth-graders ran through an obstacle course blindfolded. They learned that, like the children of Israel, you may not know where you are going, but God has a purpose and a destination.
Games like these were Liz Chavarria’s favorite part of camp. “The games all teach about God and to take courage in Jesus,” the 10th-grader from First Baptist Church in Sonora, Texas, said. “We get to have fun while learning about spiritual applications. It’s amazing how everything we do here relates back to our spiritual life. Even the adventure recreation and track times teach God’s principles.”
Adventure recreation times kept students busy in the afternoons. Students chose activities from creative arts to horseback riding to laser tag. Joseph Mercier, a recent high school graduate, and Ricky Barrilleaux, a ninth-grader, agreed that hiking a mountain trail was their favorite afternoon activity. The teens, from Immanuel Baptist Church in Morgan City, La., hiked to Glorieta’s Pulpit Point.
“The view is amazing,” Barrilleaux said. “It really shows the beauty of God and how it surrounds us at all times. I could really feel God close to me up there.”
Growing closer to God is what keeps 10th-grader Katie Burgett coming back to Centrifuge year after year. The teenager from First Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas, said when she comes to camp she feels God fill her up, and her commitment grows stronger.
Morgan Smith, an 11th-grader from First Baptist Church in Sonora, Texas, agreed, saying it is easy to feel God’s presence and leading in the camp setting.
“My favorite thing to do at camp is quiet time devotion,” Smith said. “It’s just you and the Lord spending time together. You can say whatever you want to Him. It’s just the greatest time — you and God hanging out together.
“One moment you are all serious with God,” Smith continued, comparing her relationship to God with that of a close friend. “Then, the next minute you are smiling, laughing and making a lot of noise together at Mega Relay. It’s just awesome feeling Him so close in everything we do.”
Mega Relay was the final recreational event of the week. Bible study groups competed in a timed relay pulling together more than seven individual and team activities. The louder the decibel level, the faster the teams seemed to maneuver.
After cutting loose at the loud, raucous and fun Mega Relay, everyone settled in for the final worship service. A spiritual high radiated from the chapel as the worship band, Downhere, led the group in a series of praise songs.
Before the praise service wound down, a girl near the back approached her Bible study leader. She wanted to ask Jesus into her life. A group of new Centrifuge friends circled around her, hugging and praying.
As students in the chapel raised their voices to heaven singing the final praise song of the week, the words washed over the small, huddled group -– ringing truer than ever before for one camper.
“God is mighty to save … mighty to save.”
Sue Sprenkle lives and writes from her home in western Kansas.