Amidst the smoke, lights and high energy games, campers and counselors alike experience the ever-looming “Jesus High”—a spiritual climax with little to no results.
Campers and counselors often lose the sensation of a strengthened relationship with God and fellow Christians once they pack their bags and return to normal life. The “Jesus High” is a way in which young evangelicals refer to a time they felt rapid, almost over-night growth in their faith/ This high typically involves intense periods of sorrow followed by joy, often during a camp worship service.
Savanna Gibson, sophomore Biblical & Theological Studies major, has worked at Camp War Eagle, a popular Christian summer camp in Rogers, Arkansas, for two summers in a row. “My primary reason for working at Camp War Eagle was to impact kids as I was impacted as a camper. I’ve had my share of good counselors and bad counselors, and I just wanted to give the kids what they deserved,” Gibson said. “[I want to] love these kids using my experience at camp as well as the experiences that I’ve had in life to help them go through situations that they’re going through, and show them the love of Christ, showing them what a relationship with the Lord looks like.”
Gibson believes that the spiritual difference between normal life and camp life lies within the environment. “The experience at camp is you are around people who love the Lord and who are pursuing the Lord daily and you’re pursuing the Lord with these kids. Here you have to do that by yourself,” Gibson said.
Abbey Hudgeons, a freshman at JBU, also worked at Camp War Eagle this summer. Unlike Savanah, a long-time Camp War Eagle veteran, this was Abbey’s first experience with the camp. Similar to Savanah, Abbey was inspired by a previous generation of counselors. “I was a camper at New Life Ranch a couple times while I was growing up, and I look up to my counselors … and I thought ‘that would be really cool to do some time,” Hudgeon said.
Hudgeon admits that after coming home from her experiences at camp, there was a bit of a letdown. “I was so bummed. … Whenever you get back from camp, it’s just different. It’s not happy go-lucky all the time. People have problems outside of camp. It’s the world.”
Seeing that the summer doesn’t last forever, and that when people leave camp, they feel cut off from this connection to God, Gibson asserts that campers need to reevaluate their priorities. “Camp does provide an opportunity for people to know the Lord in a clearer aspect, but upkeep of that relationship is up to you. The ‘spiritual high’ I feel doesn’t exist because you should have that ‘spiritual high’ wherever you are, because the Lord doesn’t change at camp.”
The “spiritual high”, according to Gibson, is a result of people’s unwillingness to continue to work at this relationship after camp is over. “I feel like it’s an excuse that people use so they don’t have to pursue the Lord as intensely as they do at summer church camps. People call it a ‘spiritual high’, which makes sense, but at the same time, it’s because of the environment that you’re in. If you stay in that environment and seek that environment, you can have that ‘spiritual high,’ in a sense, wherever you are.”