The primary role of a Program Counselor at Crater Lake was to teach the campers the history of logging in the area and to give them an opportunity to climb a spar pole. Since the spar poles are at least 25 feet straight up, there’s usually a certain level of fear involved in climbing the first time. For most, it’s an opportunity for growth. If they can climb the spar pole, they can make it up a 12,441 foot mountain. If they can climb a 12,441 foot mountain, they begin to understand that they can do more than they initially think. It builds character.
My personal goal was to have every camper from each crew that came through make it up the pole. Not everyone got to the top, but I think we had a pretty high success rate. Most of the kids would resist even trying to climb the pole. I’d get them to try on the equipment. Then they’d take a step or two on the pole. Then the encouragement would begin like crazy. There is one instance that sticks out more than any others…
This teenage boy, we’ll call him Mike – I don’t remember what his name was – anyway, Mike was one of the boys who had a low level of self-confidence. He didn’t want to climb the pole. We finally got him to give it a try. He made it about halfway up and began to panic. This was common. That’s when you realize that you are up above everyone else’s heads and you’re climbing a telephone pole. Mike froze.
Then his Advisor began to shout encouraging things to him.
“Come on, Mike! You can do it Mike! Just take one more step up. Yeah, that’s it! Man, I can’t wait to get home and tell your Mom what you did. Come on, Mike! Keep going. Your Mom is going to be so proud of you when I tell her you made it to the top! Yeah, that’s it! Another step! I’m gonna tell your Mom that you made it all the way to the top, Mike! Keep on going, Mike! When we get home, your Mom is going to be so proud of you!”
After about a half an hour of shouting up encouraging things, Mike’s advisor was still shouting to him with such a passion that everyone else had gathered around and was cheering Mike on. Finally, Mike made it to the top and kissed “Carrie,” the caribiner – the symbolic act of conquering the spar pole. The entire pole yard erupted in applause. Mike was lowered to the ground and his Advisor embraced him and said, “I’m so proud of you, Mike! I can’t wait to get home and tell your Mom you climbed the spar pole! She’s going to be so proud of you!”
This event was one of the highlights of my Crater ’96 experience. This is what the church is for me as a follower of Christ. There are times I want to give up. There are times I’m tired and I just don’t have the energy to continue. Yes, there are times I’m even scared about what the future holds. That’s where the community of faith steps in and begins to encourage me.
“Keep going, Matt! I can’t wait till we get Home and we can tell your Father what you’ve done – what you’ve allowed Him to do through you! He’s going to be so proud of you for doing what He has asked you to do! Keep on going!”
I think I’ve even sensed a little of that encouragement with my attempt at conquering Greek. I took my final Greek Final today. In many ways, it’s like kissing “Carrie” on top of the spar pole. While there wasn’t a wild applause when I handed in my exam, I think I felt the same sense of accomplishment that Mike felt when he returned to the ground after finally conquering the spar-pole.
The one who endures to the end will be saved.
“Keep going. Keep going. I can’t wait to get Home and you can tell your Father what all He has accomplished through you…”