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Lake Ann “Man Camp”

It has been a while, but it felt good to be on the road again with Polen Band. 

For the past couple of years I have been traveling from Ohio to Michigan to Lake Ann Camp to speak at a one week camp that is specifically for 8th graders who are going into their freshman year of high school. The camp is called “Fresh Start”. Half of the week is spent in yurts with minimal amenities, and the other half is spent rafting down the mighty Pine River, tent camping, and making our own food by the campfire. 

I have enjoyed being a part of Fresh Start. It really is amazing to see how much the students grow and mature through the course of that one week on the river. It is amazing to see what youth are capable of, with just a little direction, instruction, and permission.  

This year I was asked to also help with “Man Camp” at Lake Ann. I was excited to be asked, as I think the guys in Polen Band are a perfect fit for something like that. 

So we set off for an epic weekend of man camp. 

Our first stop was about halfway to the camp. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A, of course. At Chick-Fil-A we met a guy named Chuck who was blessed to see “a group of guys who were not ashamed to bow their heads and pray for their meal”. I didn’t think anything of it. That’s just kind of what we do. But he was blessed by it. So he brought us all a chocolate chip cookie (sometimes it pays to pray). 


Before we left, Chuck asked if he could pray a prayer of blessing over us. So we all bowed our heads and prayed in the Chick-Fil-A dining room. Chuck said, “Your ministry is leading worship and pointing people to Jesus. My ministry is to bless, encourage, and pray for the people who come into this Chick-Fil-A.”

When we got to Lake Ann, we got right to work setting up our equipment. Once again our silly mixing board was giving us fits. I am not sure if it is the mixing board, or the router, but we have had quite a run of irritation with it. I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade. 

Nevertheless, after a total restart of the system, we were up and running. 

The guys who came to the man camp were awesome. The room was filled with manly singing and heartfelt praise and adoration of Jesus—which is always so encouraging to see, hear, and be a part of as the worship leader. That is the goal, after all. Leading worship is not primarily a performance. Leading worship is all about pointing to the goodness, mercy, and glory of God, and helping people to become aware of His presence. 

They were aware. And it was a joy to be a part of. 

The speaker for the weekend was a guy named Ben Rudolph. I had met his dad and brother at the camp in the past—all great guys. Ben was an excellent speaker, and throughout the four sessions he helped the men recognize and begin to reject four powerful enemies in every man’s life: shame, fear, anger, & generational sins. 

I thought the sessions were great. 

As a band, we were asked to judge the “Hook & Cook” competition on Saturday afternoon. For the competition, four different teams sent someone out to “hook” a fish from the lake, using only bread or whatever bait they could find, and a child’s fishing pole. Then the remaining team members had to start a fire and begin to “cook” rice, vegetables, and whatever fish was brought to them. 

It was hilarious. It was raining. It was cold. And it was a great time. 

Each team ultimately served up a surprisingly tasty dish, but there could be only one winner. In my mind, there was a clear winner—including a guy who apparently manages a BW3 restaurant. 

The winning dish from the “Hook & Cook” challenge

Being a “man camp”, they also brought in a guy to carve a few stumps into a bench with chainsaws. It was fun to watch him work. I have no idea how someone can do something like that, but by the end of the day there was an amazing bench with a bear on each side. 

Da bears

On Saturday morning I received a text from the camp director asking if we would be willing to come back and lead worship for man camp again next year. I would say that sounds pretty great! I’m already looking forward to it! Anyone want to join us?!


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