That One Time At (Accidental) Bible Camp —How Mistakenly Going To Church Camp Made Me A Stronger Writer

A tale of Jesus, jellyfish, and suffering. Oh, and Choco-Tacos.

It Began With Good Intentions — As Most Mistakes Do

Sometimes you have a wonderful, bestseller idea that ends up being…well, something else. Like so many fine writers, my parents and I had grand aspirations for my first summer camp experience.

When Life Gives You Jellyfish, Become So Stubborn You Defy The Laws Of Physics

Now, to be clear, I do believe in God. I’m actually quite devoted to my faith. It’s not Christianity — especially not the rather sketchy version displayed at this particular establishment — but it’s resilient.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Chrysaora Itself

I have a legitimate jellyfish phobia. I still, at age 24, start tearing up and panicking when I see pictures of them. These people — these…these HCCCs — told me that I just had “to trust in the Lord and enjoy the ride.” Oh my God. I wanted to tear out their culturally-appropriated dreadlocks with my tiny, (approximately) 10-year-old bare hands.

Okay, Emily, But What The F*** Does This Have To Do With Writing?

Look, sometimes the writing industry is like a nebulous cloud of Sea Nettles (that’s legitimately the name of the jellyfish species that blooms in the Bay). It’s scary, it’s harsh, and you’re afraid to even dip your toes in for fear of getting stung.

Getting In Trouble Is The Writer’s Way — And The Lord Jesus Himself Did It, So Why Was Everyone Up MY A**?

One thing I’ve never quite understood is the Christian Summer Camp Industry’s attachment to rules. I mean, it’s kind of ironic, when you think about it. Jesus literally broke so many rules they…well, you know how that turned out.

  • Telling everyone that I think “it’s pretty weird that God would ONLY like the Israel-type people when there were so many other nice people around.”
  • Ditching the lunchtime gospel-song singing session to go hang out with a turtle I found wandering around outside.
  • Changing the words to said gospel-songs and making them more…amusing.
  • Trying to “store” about 15 Choco-Tacos from the snack bar (which we had to pay for, by the way) in my bag and then handing the melted messes out like contraband under the craft tables.

Writers Were Made To Ask The Annoying Questions And Damn It, We Aren’t Going To Stop Now

The point of this aside is to solidify my conviction that writers are, to some extent, born — not made. Sort of. I think there are ingredients that go into us, such as verbal intelligence, curiosity, creative tendencies, and “precociousness” (whatever that means), but there are also things we build out of those ingredients.

To Conclude — Always Read The Brochure…Or Don’t, If You Want An Adventure

A lot of emphasis is put on the concept of “adventure” or “going into the unknown” when it comes to writing. Personally, I think it’s fine if you don’t want to take a big leap of faith sometimes.

Emily Sinclair Montague is a professional writer, author, and content strategist. Connect with her at or on Twitter (@EmilytheMontag1)!

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