How I Lost My Faith at a Boot Camp for Christian Kids
At twelve years old I was sent away for one long hot summer of obediently serving the Lord. But instead of finding God, I discovered my rebellious streak.
Illustrations by Chris Carfolite
I got myself into the Teen Missions mess in the first place.
I saw their ad on the back of a magazine for Christian teens — it was a picture of a striped tent, the kind you see at the circus. The copy encouraged me to have the adventure of a lifetime while sacrificing myself for God. This seemed promising. I ordered a catalog and pored over potential options. My mom was firm on the fact that I couldn’t leave the country, so truly exciting missions were out, but there was still Team Rain Forest, where I could spread God’s word by building an accessible sidewalk through the lush Florida rain forest; see exotic creatures watching me from behind glossy leaves as I labored for the Lord; listen for the flutter and song of mysterious birds. Make new friends. Change my life.
I was only adventurous in my imagination; at twelve years old, I got homesick when I left for a few days, let alone a whole month with a boot camp involved. It's likely that my mom took the i…