Feb21TueFebruary 21, 2017
Hello! My name is Katie Dodson and I just wanted to share with you my awesome experience with Blue Knob mission camp in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This place was not only beautiful, but surrounded by God’s love. I felt the Lord move in ways that I hadn’t felt Him move before, and it was purely His grace that allowed me to put myself last and others first for this entire week. What I have to say is very personal, but before we get all serious, I wanted to say that this mission camp was full of so much fun. We had goofy dance parties before breakfast, morning bible studies, daily coffee runs to sheetz (which one? Who knows! There’s like 5,000 in pa!) we jammed to music every day on the way to our sites, ate lunch and poked fun at each other, snapchatted our friends back home, and spent time at the mall as well as a man-made lake right down the road from our housing!
Now time to get serious… during the summer of 2016, I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside TEAMeffort’s staff in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Going into this mission camp, I was super excited because my youth group is absolutely wonderful! Although I had all of this excitement built up inside of me, I was also sad because I knew this was going to be my last mission trip as a youth group member. I was sad partially because it meant I was growing up, but also because I love my youth group and I didn’t want our experiences together to cease. I was 18 this past summer and had a huge responsibility on my hands which was to set a good example because I was fully aware that my youth group looked up to me considering I’m the oldest.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for this week at Blue Knob, but nonetheless, I knew God was going to bless us. God was already at work before I even came to this mission camp. The week prior to Blue Knob, I had a travel softball tournament in another part of Pennsylvania, thank you Jesus for that blessing in disguise! So I got to the mission camp just slightly before everybody else in my youth group. Once we all got there, we just burst with excitement. The boys unloaded their luggage and kind of threw stuff to the side, and starting playing games, like most young males do. But, all the girls immediately went into the housing for our group and starting claiming bedrooms, rearranging furniture, setting up the bathrooms, ya know, all the stuff girls love to do when we have to set up camp for a week.
That Sunday night, the day we had arrived, we had what TEAMeffort called “chapel.” It was a beautiful service, and the phrase they presented to us to remember for the week was “Pray As You Go.” What I did not know at that time was that “Pray As You Go” was about to be the biggest lesson I had learned in my walk with Christ. Throughout the week, we unwrapped various scriptures and meditated on the necessity of prayer and how important prayer really is. I grew up in church and had known for years that praying was as simple as coming to God and talking about whatever I needed to talk about… but head knowledge and heart knowledge are two totally different things.
One of the TEAMeffort staff members talked to us one night about Jesus praying. We discussed the scriptures in Luke chapter 22 about how Jesus was literally sweating blood because he prayed so hard. SWEATING BLOOD! It was in that moment that I realized I was taking prayer far too lightly. I had never prayed so hard that I sweat blood, but I knew in that moment, I wanted something more out of my walk with the Lord! I wanted to be the person that prayed so hard, she sweat blood. The message of this week, “Pray As You Go” changed my view of prayer for the rest of my life.
Blue Knob afforded me the opportunity to deepen my faith in Christ, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget my experiences this past summer. I learned so much and witnessed so much that allowed me to grow in ways I was unable to grow previously. I was given the chance to pray for a lady that had cancer, I was able to council girls in my youth group that week, clean up yards for individuals that were unable to get the job done, and the most special aspect of all, I was able to spend one of the most incredible mission trips I had ever attended, with my Mom, who is hands down my best friend. This camp, for me, offered more than just community service and awesome meals with cool people. This camp taught me life-long lessons that I am able to carry with me throughout the rest of my life. Thank you, Blue Knob, for touching my heart on a very personal level.