A new generation of campers is beginning the adventure—the adventure of a Christian youth camp experience. What’s in store for them?
The surroundings of camp are an adventure. How many times do kids get to have six “overnighters” in a row with nine other friends in the same room. (By the way, that’s also quite an adventure for the counselors too!) But the adventure also includes hills to climb, a lake to swim in, a field to run on, canoes to paddle, and wonderful trees to sit under in the heat of the day.
The activities of camp are an adventure. How often in a kid’s life does the day’s activities revolve around kids? Camp is a busy place just for them. Games, arts and crafts, nature walks, archery, swimming, campfires, and the list goes on. In fact, the campers are so busy, you can begin to see the exhaustion by Wednesday, if not before. Somehow we all catch a second wind and make it through the rest of the week.
The spiritual emphasis of camp is an adventure. Bible classes, prayers, singing devotional songs around the campfire, and sometimes those heart to heart talks make for a wonderful spiritual experience. It can truly be life changing, because camp provides a unique opportunity for the Bible not only to be taught, but also lived and applied. No, camp isn’t heaven. People still make mistakes and have problems, but it is about the closest thing to it that I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes you witness a child blossoming from the simple things of time, attention, and loving Christian fellowship.
For some reason, being in nature and away from the TV, iPods, and other noises of modern life makes it easier to think about God and life. The retreat from the day to day can make it easier to reflect on what is really important. This reflection can be a wonderful adventure whether you are 8 or 80. It’s the chance to notice the green of the trees, the blue of the sky, and the beauty of a butterfly. Simple pleasures that sometimes we are in too big of a hurry to notice. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV)
I visited another congregation for a gospel meeting, where a young man introduced himself to me and said, “You had me as a camper.” I was touched that he remembered and introduced himself. (I have to admit I struggle with the fact that someone I had the first year I managed camp could be 42 now, but that is another issue.) It reminds me that a Christian youth camp puts an imprint on the life of the campers and staff that last a lifetime. Campers make friends that they will always remember. It’s a wonderful adventure!