I'm going to let you in on a little secret that not many people know about me: I am a semi-professional camper. Not the sleep-in-a-tent-under-the-stars type camper, but the church-camp type camper.
I've been going to church camp since I was about 4 years old. My parents were district directors for our church organization and one of their responsibilities was to direct the summer youth camps. Thus began my long love affair with church camp.
Last week I had the special privilege of going to kids camp with my daughter and serving as her team leader. For the record, camp is an entirely different experience when you're 40 than it is when you are 20! Still, I would not trade the experience for all the luxury hotel rooms in the world.
I realize not everyone shares my love of "roughin' it for Jesus." But I believe every child should experience church camp at least once, and here's why.
Camp is a great opportunity to learn a little independence, but still have plenty of adult supervision. Mom isn't hovering about
nagging reminding them to brush their teeth and make their bed. But it's not a free-for-all, either. Kids learn responsibility and independence by keeping their bunks tidy, keeping their clothes together, and being ready on time...all under the supervision of adult leaders.
I was unable to join my girls at the lake one afternoon at camp. One of the leaders asked my daughter, "Do you miss your mom?" "No!" she replied (a little too enthusiastically!). "I feel like a teenager just hanging out with my friends!" This mama is happy to give my daughter a little "independence" at the lake when I know there are 18 other team leaders and 3 lifeguards keeping an eye on things! 😉
Positive Role Models
The camp worship leader was a young woman who my Little Miss adores. This young lady is like a rock star. She could not walk across the campground without being swarmed by 7- and 8-year-old girls. And she stopped to hug. every. single. one. (Taylor Swift has nothin' on her!)
On stage and off, this young lady is someone I am happy to allow influence my daughter. From the rec staff to the leadership staff to fellow campers, I am thankful my daughter was surrounded by godly role models who encouraged her in her relationship with God.
Unfortunately, we have all heard news stories of terrible things than have occurred because of camp staffers. But if you do your homework and find a church or organization you trust that performs strict background checks, you can find a safe and trustworthy camp experience for your child.
If you're still nervous, you can offer to volunteer as a leader. I'm sure they'd appreciate the extra help! (Check out these tips for being a Rock-Star Camp Leader.)
I am not a get-down-in-the-mud kind of girl. I'm not super athletic or competitive and I don't really care to be dirty. My daughter is the same way. So, when I heard about Mud Day at our camp, I was a little concerned.
Mud Day is exactly what it sounds like...a bunch of games entirely in the mud. I had no choice but to put on my big girl pants and take one for the team. So I did. And so did my daughter. As a matter of fact, she loved it! (And so did many of the other girls who started out a little hesitant about the mud.)
There were a few who did not enjoy getting muddy (or leaving their shoes behind in the mud pit), but even those girls vowed to return to camp next year, because (in their words) "Camp is so much fun!"
They Will Encounter God
Camp played a significant role in my spiritual life as I grew up. I accepted Christ at camp. I learned to have a quiet time at camp. I learned to recognize God's Spirit speaking to my heart at camp. I learned to work out my faith at camp.
At some point, your child will choose to either make your faith their own or reject it entirely. You can't make that choice for them, but you can give them opportunities along the way.
A Bible-believing camp is the perfect opportunity for your kids to step into their own relationship with God. For a few days they are not distracted by home life, sibling squabbles, or pressure from school. It's just them and God.
We often think nothing of plunking down hundreds of dollars for soccer camp, gymnastics camp, band camp, or (fill in the blank with any other activity) camp. We will even schedule family vacations and other commitments around them, because we recognize the benefit of concentrated efforts in those areas.
Imagine what could happen if we put as much effort and financial investment into our children's spiritual development!
Think about the impact it will have when, years down the road, they look back on their camp experience and say, "I know God is real, because I met Him at camp."
What experiences have you or your kids had at church camp?
Also, check out these 10 Things to Ask Your Kids When They Get Home from Camp.Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!
Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.