By Andy Im & Mikelle / August 10, 2018
I arrive at Camp Au Sable on a humid, summer afternoon and walk into the camp store for some ice cream. Moments later I hear my name reverberating from the cheerful and enthusiastic Tammy Micheff.
You can't help but smile.
I’m here to write a piece on summer camp, and before long Tammy exclaims, “Mikelle! You’ve got to talk to Mikelle!” She calls out on the radio for Mikelle to meet me at the camp store.
Shortly after, we connect and head over to Cedar Lodge for a sit-down.
So tell me a little about yourself, what you’re studying, what you want in life? Well, I grew up in Yellowknife Northwest Territories, Canada. I have one brother, and my parents still live up north. I’m a senior this year at Andrews University and studying social work.
My dream is to do foreign missions, but we’ll see. Sometimes He calls us to our hometown, so I’m available if that’s the case also. I want to serve God. I want to serve people. I’m young and unattached. It’s the perfect time.
How did you end up at Camp Au Sable? I had no plans to work at Camp Au Sable last year [this is her second summer] because I worked at an Adventist camp many years before, and I keep telling myself, “I’m going to get a ‘grown up’ job now.”
I try to put up blinders, but I always get recruited. I was talking to Jordan Skinner (girls director) one day, and I mention that I had done programming at a camp in Canada. She was like, “Oh my goodness! This is such an answer to prayer! We need a program assistant! Would you be willing to do it?” And I was like, “Well, I never thought about that.”
The camp I really wanted to work at was Timber Ridge because I knew a lot of people there. There was such conflict in my heart. Then the day came when I had to call pastor Ken to inform him of my decision. Even as the phone was ringing, I was really wanting to say “No!” But, I just gave it to God and ended up saying “Yes.”
Afterwards, I felt such peace. Like, honestly, indescribable. I just knew for sure that it was the right place. That realization, right at the beginning of last year, was so motivating all through my experience last summer. It’s really exciting to know you’re exactly where God wants you to be.
This year I wasn’t planning on coming back. But when the Au Sable team came to recruit at Andrews, Alex (program director) asked me if I was interested in being the camp evangelist. And you know, sometimes you just know it’s God’s voice. I pretty much knew when he asked, that this was where God was leading. So that’s how I ended up here.
What were some of the struggles you faced this summer as camp evangelist? It’s definitely very daunting to think that I would be the camp evangelist. I really experienced so much of God’s grace in this position because I don’t have any background to do this. Like, my only qualification is that I’ve experienced the grace of God; and you know, all I can do is, day by day, say “Here I am, do what You want with me.”
It was really amazing to see how God answered that call. I know pretty well what kind of things I struggle with and that I don’t have it all together. And the title “camp evangelist” made me believe I needed to have it all together. And God showed me, “NO, you can’t, you don’t!” But that’s why God is there, to fill in those holes. All He wants is someone who is willing and available.
It’s definitely very daunting to think that I would be the camp evangelist. . . I don’t have any background to do this. Like, my only qualification is that I’ve experienced the grace of God.
I’m on active duty not to get entangled in civilian affairs, like the things of this world. My purpose is to be wholly at my commanding Officer’s disposal. That’s what it is! I still have so much to learn on that. But, it’s really amazing what God does when you say, “You can have me, I’m just giving You all my plans and purposes. And, You see in my heart, and You know what I want. But only YOU know best!”
When we put our trust in God in that way, He can work miracles. I just really want to say that God has been so good and so real here. I feel like a different person in my walk with God. I’ve rediscovered those old truths through the Bible, and I’ve kind of been encouraged that my personality or my weaknesses don’t disqualify me from God’s service.
Is there an experience this past summer that really stands out? Pastor Ken kept asking me to do crazy things. Like we’d be at a baptism, and pastor Ken would come over and say, “I want you to do an appeal,” and I was like, “What! Me? Can’t YOU do it?” And he would say, “You’re the camp evangelist!” He keeps throwing that at me. But, I was like, “I never made an appeal before!” And he just said, “Let the Holy Spirit use you.” So, I just prayed, went up there, and many kids came forward. That was really exciting.
Pastor Ken kept asking me to do crazy things. Like we’d be at a baptism, and pastor Ken would come over and say, “I want you to do an appeal,” and I was like, “What! Me? Can’t YOU do it?” And he would say, “You’re the camp evangelist!”
What are some of the spiritual and life lessons you are going to take with you from the experience at camp? When we work for God it’s never in vain. Oh yea, that’s such a big lesson I learned! I realized I can’t measure my success by what I see. You know? By whether or not people are baptized. Or if people say, “Wow you did a great job!” Because my job is just to do faithfully what God has asked me to do.
One time a counselor came up to me on a Friday night, and she was like, “Man I just think that it didn’t get through to my cabin. They’re just not responding, and I’ve been trying to reach them and none of them are Adventist!” And I told her, "Your work is never in vain. We just faithfully do the seed planting. We don’t get to see it grow sometimes. But God waters it. God gives the increase." That was really an important lesson for me because it’s all about trusting God despite the results.
One time a counselor came up to me on a Friday night, and she was like, “Man I just think that it didn’t get through to my cabin. They’re just not responding, and I’ve been trying to reach them and none of them are Adventist!”
I was reading Ezekiel a couple of days ago, and He’s telling Ezekiel, I’m gonna send you to Israel to tell them this message, but they’re not going to listen to you. And I was thinking, “Wow, that’s rough.” He’s telling them from the beginning you’re gonna fail, basically. But it's not really failing, right? It’s just doing faithfully the work God asks us to do.
You can’t measure success by whether Israel listened or not. He’s saying, just do this because I’ve asked you to do it. So, that was an important lesson for me. Like, just trust God. Work for Him and know it’s not in vain no matter what you see. It’s not even my job to bring about the reaping and to make the plant grow. God does that kind of reaping, and He makes the seed grow, and we’re just faithful little farmers.
I know everyone here worked really hard. Were you able to have some downtime? Everything’s really fun here. That’s one thing I really appreciate about the summer actually. We’re such a big staff. It’s like a 110. I kind of thought that we wouldn’t get to know each other. But something I’ve really appreciated is, it’s so spiritually uplifting. If someone sees you grumpy they don’t say, “Stop being grumpy!” They ask, “Can I pray with you?” And I really appreciate that. Just lifting each other up. It’s kind of a place where we can be away from the regular temptations of life, and it’s so restorative, and it’s so healing to be here.