A few years ago, I started school at George Fox University. Coming from Hawaii and never experiencing Oregon before was a huge change. It took a while to get used to. With the stress and busyness of college, I needed too find places to unwind, relax, and get away, but I didn’t really know where to go. The next year, I finally discovered Camp Tilikum. The first time I came to Tilikum, I was blown away to discover that there was such a place close by. I was able to come and escape from all of my worries, and just be outside. I could feel God’s presence through the beauty of his handiwork, and feel close to Him through the embrace of peaceful solitude. I decided to come out here to work on Summer Staff. Now, four years later, I still find myself coming here to connect with God and center myself on Him.

I have found that our culture is pushing us towards a more fast-paced stressful and non-stop lifestyle, making it harder to have space for rest, reflection, and peaceful quiet times. Part of Tilikum’s core values are that Tilikum exists to create space for people to experience creation and encounter God. Having open fields, a magnificent lake, and trails in the wood full of natural beauty makes this an ideal place to get away and experience God. It is Tilikum’s goal to help counteract that cultural trend and give people the space to break free, and have a more peaceful, joyful, and full life.

I do believe that God can speak to us in any place, and through anything, however I have found that there is something special about an experience in nature. First off, seeing God’s beauty reflected in the things he has made can bring a sense of closeness and connection with Him. Nature also provides a quiet and serene experience to get away from our typical routines and stress. And lastly, I think there is a biblical precedent for it. Throughout the gospels, Jesus goes out into the wilderness to pray and connect with the Father. He takes his disciples into the garden of Gethsemane and there he teaches them how to pray. Some of the most amazing and profound moments happen when Jesus goes out into nature and gets away from the crowds. I figure that if it worked for him, it’s probably a good idea to try it myself!

Jacob “Lil’ Bear” Peck
2016 – 2017 Program Intern