There is something deeply and wonderfully special about camp.
There are the incredible experiences and friends, the opportunities to try out things you could never do at home and even the awesome spiritual lessons, leaders and mentors that kids encounter.
But there is something more!
What recently stood out to me was something deeper. Kids at camp have the chance to be independent, they get to keep their bed clean and choose what to eat, or not to eat, they have opportunity to participate or not, without their parents forcing them to or demanding obedience. This is particularly impacting because they are away from their families and everything they know for a whole week.
Yes, the leaders and counsellors will encourage involvement from them but essentially they are independent and have a chance to spread their wings.
This has special significance on a spiritual level. Camp is more than what Sunday school or even a summer VBS can offer. When our kids feel safe at camp, in the midst of their independence and ability to make simple life choices themselves, they also have the opportunity to make decisions about their faith.
They see lifestyles of adults they look up to, they hear stories and messages about God and His word from speakers, and they have an opportunity in that moment and in that week, to decide if what they see is something that they want.
As I thought about it I realized that camp, is an incredibly and undeniably powerful opportunity for our children to own their faith, to establish or begin to establish a belief system apart from their parents or usual friends. I might even suggest, or expect, that those who have gone to camp as children and teenagers likely have a lower probability if falling away from their faith later in life.
This concept and reality has really pushed me to realise the potential of camp as well as the incredible responsibility that I have as a camp speaker along with camp staff, leaders and counsellors to be the light and example that kids need, one that will accurately show them who Jesus is, giving them their needed opportunity to accurately own what they see.
What an incredible and exciting concept!
So I have a challenge for a few groups of people:
Parents; spend some time considering camp for your kids, and discern and pray about what camp to send your child to. A camp that suits your child’s interests and your personal values is vital.
Camp counsellors/cabin leaders; your life will shine, you’re in a fish bowl (always visible to those around you) and kids always see past the surface to who you are, so be intentional to pursue Jesus and they will see your sincerity more than anything else. These kids look up to you, you don’t have to be perfect, rely on Jesus and He will take care of the rest.
Camp speakers; we have an incredible responsibility and privilege to share the gospel with kids and give them the chance to explore and own their faith for the first time, lets not take that for granted.
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I love camps and retreats. I got saved at one. I recommitted my life to Christ at one. I got my first taste of leadership at one. I’m always amazed at how God can use a few simple days to make a significant impact in the lives of kids.
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