Trailblazers Never Gets Old

This is my seventh summer working at Portage Lake, and if you add that with my three years as a Trailblazer camper, that would put me at ten summers of Trailblazer camp. Woah. Some would maybe assume that year after year, game after game, song after song, things would start to get a bit repetitive and mundane, but it’s truly not! Every time these wild 4th-6th graders fill up the cabins and chapel for a week, it is always an absolute BLAST! Of the infinite things that make these weeks so great, here are a few things at Trailblazers that never get old:

1.The campersDSC_0022

Well, obviously they never get old, as they are the same age group year after year, but there is something so refreshing about Trailblazers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the other age groups that come to camp, but Trailblazers seem to have that look in their eye juuuust a bit more. That look you see on their faces on Christmas morning, or maybe their birthday. The wonder, energy, excitement, and enthusiasm they bring is not only hilarious, but super contagious! It has been 24 hours since these kiddos arrived and I have seen them sprint from activity to activity, scream at the top of their lungs, climb all over their counselors, and sing their hearts out at the campfire. There has already been tons of funny moments, including one where a kid proudly and randomly declared to their counselor, “Guess what? I’ve already studied so much that I’m going to get a PHD in engineering!” We never know what these kids will say or do, but we do know it always has the potential to be amazing. 

2. The songs

I’m not sure I have ever seen a more enthusiastic chapel last night as we sang Pharaoh Pharaoh. Whether they knew the song and motions or not, all 160 kids sang their hearts out. However, no one was more excited than maintenance man Noah Bottrell, who proudly declared, “This song is my jam!” Songs like Papayas, Blind Man, The Second Story Window, and all of Uncle Jerry’s classics will make this week SO much fun.

3. The game room

There is some sort of unexplainable connection between 10-12 year olds and carpet-ball. They LOVE it! Watching the campers sprint from their cabins, or walk as quickly as they can from their dinner tables to the game room is something that will always make me smile. The controlled chaos of that room following meal time is truly a sight to behold. I wish I could explain it but I just can’t. The game room is truly the place to be at Trailblazers!

4. The footwearIMG_8467

I’m a crocs guy, so seeing these kids running around in their favorite color crocs simply brings joy to my heart. It’s also very encouraging to see feet that get a little dusty and dirty. The dirtier the feet, the more fun that’s being had! The gaga pit will definitely be full every day this week.

5. Uncle Jerry

How can you not love Uncle Jer?? He’s the best in the business. From the second he runs onto the stage, everyone is locked on him, his songs, his stories, and his bald spot (he got his hair at a half off sale at Meijer). It is impossible to not smile when he is up there doing his thing. Perhaps the best part of Jerry’s sessions is when you realize that within each silly song or story, there is a truly valuable lesson about the power, grace, and love of God. Each kid at camp this week will leave knowing that they are created and loved by the God of the universe, and that they are saved by His son, Jesus, and that is truly the best thing about camp. It’s going to be a great week in chapel!

6. ElmerDSC_1249

I’ve seen Elmer, Jerry Jacoby’s famous pet chicken, hundreds and hundreds of times, but every single time he is up there I forget that he’s a puppet! Jerry is truly a master and making Elmer come to life, and it gets me every time. Seeing the kids reaction once Jerry says, “I’ll go get him…” is INSANE. Imagine a One Direction Concert, except in our chapel. The kids scream at the top of their lungs, hug each other, hug their counselor, jump up and down, and chant, “ELMER! ELMER! ELMER!” until they see him. Elmer  will forever go down in camp history as the most loved chicken of all time.

7. The canteen



-Luke Johnson, Marketing Director

Luke Johnson