May 24, 2011

Unichallenge 2011

There was this event.

"It's a big deal," they told me. "People get, like, really into it. This is serious."

I had seen the pictures and I had heard some stories. I knew it on paper but - as with all things camp ministry - I didn't quite know what to expect until I saw the Unichallenge happen.

When I was at Grace, we created Mangames, a half-day competition testing the various aspects of manliness - among them strength, agility, wisdom, creativity, survival skills, the ability to put large quantities of food away in a short amount of time - all to crown the manliest of men on the Grace Adventures summer staff. Mangames saw a second official incarnation last summer and, I'm hoping, a third despite my absence this summer. I dream of international Mangames chapters. Maybe someday. All of that to say: I have a deep appreciation for skills competitions on the grounds of Christian camps.

Unichallenge has been happening here for a few years now. This may have been Unichallenge V, I don't know for sure. But it is far and away the most hyped thing we do. And with great hype comes great responsibility.

The problem with having responsibility for something you've never done before is that you inevitably leave out many, many details that you would never in a million years dream might be necessary. Everything works on paper. We planned our events with a few new ideas, and a few weeks ago got to work building what we needed. We did not leave ourselves adequate time to get certain things done. And so in the days leading up to Unichallenge, I worked some very long hours finishing big and little things, from building rafts and shields to tying up loose ends and picking out trophies. Actually, one event was finished literally minutes before it was put into use.

I don't know how much of this was evident to the participants of Unichallenge. All of our staff, despite all of our stress, sincerely believe that Unichallenge V was a success. People had a blast, and the feedback was all positive.

And this, I think, lends us a poignant example of God doing good and perfect things despite his imperfect servants. It's a beautiful thing that we are not solely responsible for the success or failure of our ministry. God does a marvelous job shoring up our mistakes and failures. Which of course doesn't give us a license to be sloppy, but it does remove some of the pressure to be perfect.

The whole point of this event is to get church groups to come together and compete, yet be unified. The focus is so heavy on sportsmanship that a team can win every event but not win the overall championship. After lunch they all spend time in community, praying, and at the end of the day, we have praise and worship time before we hand out the trophies. If nothing else, it's our hope that some bonds are formed that will last beyond the day, beyond the boundaries of camp, and beyond the life of a trophy.

That, and that there are no serious injuries, of course.

Pictures: (All from the opening presentation ceremony. None from actual competition.)

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