Messed up Suitcase….Cleaned up Kid

We just picked our youngest up from the Camp Barakel bus. He was the portrait of summer camp……sun-kissed cheeks, wrinkled shirt–probably worn for several days in a row–, ball cap askew, unspent camp store money clutched tightly in his fist and a reluctant kiss for mom coupled with an “I’m hungry” after the hours-long bus ride from the beautiful northern part of the southern peninsula of Michigan. (You poor folks with only one peninsula will have to think on that for a moment.)


Spence and some buddies getting ready to board the bus
Spence and some buddies getting ready to board the bus


When he left, Spence’s suitcase was the picture of perfection. Tightly folded tees and shorts; rolled socks and Bible, note cards and notebook lined up and neat. He was so proud…we snapped a picture.


Now, however, his suitcase leaves a tad bit to be desired; wadded clothes, crumpled, half-finished “cause-the-guys-wanted-to-play-cards” letters home and to grandpa and grandma; trash bag for dirty clothes never touched but still folded neatly in his zipper compartment, funky looking (and smelling) assorted boy garments. Whew!!!!

But he is home.

And, although his suitcase is messy, his heart underwent a good cleaning at camp. Ever the fidgetter, we sometimes wonder if he absorbs anything he hears. Well, this year we know he did.

He recounted stories of challenge by the speaker encouraging the kids to stand up for God even when it isn’t popular. He chatted for hours to us yesterday, recounting all the examples and voicing his desire to be someone who does the same.

What stuck out most to him was a simple admonition. His speaker at chapel drilled three points home for the kids to live by:

  • Read God’s Word
  • Do What it Says
  • Keep Jesus First

Simple. But a needed reminder, even for grown-ups.

I’ll take a messy suitcase lugged home by a cleaned-up kid anytime. :-)

Un-packing the Blessings,


  1. I’d take that exchange any day too!!!!

    Reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    May we all know that heart clean-up,

  2. Oh girl, what a great post. Isn’t camp the greatest thing for kids ever!!!

    I’m praying that the things my kids learned at camp this year will really stick as well. I love that your camp’s speaker made the points so simple. I think that’s the key to making them stick!!!

    Love you and can’t wait to see you soon.

  3. My girlfriend was worried about her son wearing clothes that didn’t match. So she packed for her son’s camp experience by pinning shorts, shirt, underwear and socks together for each day he would be at camp. The clothes came home intact– still pinned. The boy never changed his clothes the entire week.

    But you are right about the effect camp can have on the heart. I owe much of my own spiritual journey to the many weeks and eventually staff summers I spent at Camp Berea in NH. Getting away from the routine of normal life puts us in a great place to listen to God’s voice. So glad your son had such an inspiring experience. I know you must be grateful beyond words.

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