I am hot. I am sweaty. I am eating mass produced cafeteria food. I am walking in the blazing sun everywhere I go and I am separated from my wife at night. Welcome to Caswell.
Fort Caswell is an NC Baptist retreat center on Oak Island and each summer it is home to Youth Weeks with an average of 1,000 in attendance each week. This year 5 chaperones from our church have taken 23 young men and women to join in the fun.
A few weeks ago, if I was asked if I was excited about going to Caswell, I would probably have given a half-hearted, “sure”. It can be hard to get psyched up about all the sacrifices of going to Caswell, especially all the behinds-the-scenes organization that is usually handled by Amy, my incredible wife.
My first list may give you the idea that I am miserable (especially those of you who know that I would prefer 40 degree weather to 90
But then we went to the worship service.
If you have ever been to Caswell, you understand that the worship music is loud. You have never heard music this loud in the services
at Coats Baptist. And yet, in the very first service there were moments when the 1,000 plus people in the congregation were singing so loud that I was not able to hear anything from the stage. Let that sink in. Most likely 800 or more of those singing are teenagers, and they are singing of God’s glory so loudly that the very loud audio system is being drowned out.
Have you ever been so caught up in a moment of worship that you are completely overwhelmed? That was me. The very first night. All the
“hardship”, all the “sacrifices”, all the “struggles” of being a chaperone for Caswell are gone. In one moment I am overcome by the passion of hundreds of young men and women singing praises to the God of heaven.
Now, Caswell is not a magical place. God is no more present here than He is in Coats, NC. The only real difference is that we come to
Caswell with the intent to worship. Sure, there are other reasons some may come, but all those who have been before know that we will
spend hours each day in worship and teaching services. I think this intent makes all the difference.
It is my prayer, as it is every year, the fire and passion kindled at Caswell burn bright and never go out. This is especially true of those young men and women who are in a transition out of high school. And yet I know that the Christian life is much more about the everyday, deliberate, step-by-step walk with the Lord. I understand that the fire must be fueled by intentional, consistent study of God’s Word, and time with Him in prayer. May each of us make the commitment to seek God daily and serve Him intentionally.
We have an incredible group. To those parents that have trusted your children to our care, thank you for the opportunity to spend time with
them and get to know them better. It is an honor and a privilege to be a chaperone at Caswell.
I am blessed. I am humbled. I am thankful.
For more information about Youth Weeks at Fort Caswell, visit bedotell.com/summer-youth-weeks.