Investing in the Future: Caring for Kids at Camp
DATE POSTED: 06/26/2018  |     |   Category: Friend to Friend

I recently read a quote by Dr. Richard Ross, nationally known professor of youth ministry. He said this about camp sponsors, “A layman goes to work all year, looking forward to days off. When they arrive, he spends a week inhaling the aroma of a middle school guys’ cabin, approaching heat stroke on a sport’s field, and eating carcinogenic camp food. God bless him.”

I agree with Dr. Ross. God bless the folks who have taken time off this summer to go to camp as a sponsor.  They are offering a tremendous service to the local church, to children who need the gospel message and to the future of the church.  2018 will mark my thirty-sixth year to attend either a youth or children’s camp.  It just so happens that this year I will be involved in two different camps: Super Summer and Children’s Camp. Super Summer is for teenagers who feel called to ministry. Through the years I’ve taken a number of students to this camp and the investment has paid off. Currently there are 7 adult teachers and countless sponsors who attended this camp with me and are now part of the camp staff. These new leaders are carrying on the traditions of leading out and directing a camp.

I firmly believe that taking kids to camp is an investment in the future. I’ve observed at least six benefits from time spent at camp:

  1. Learn new skills
    Camp provides a great opportunity to introduce activities to students which they have never done before such as archery, repelling, shooting, and canoeing, just to name a few. I remember as a boy scout learning how to canoe and then as a camp counselor teaching this activity to students.
  2. Develop new friendships
    Camp is a wonderful place to meet new people and develop new friendships. Over the years I have met a lot of students at camp and some of these students have become my friends as adults. My own kids developed lasting friendships from camp. For example, my son, Levi and his wife Gabby maintain contact with a young couple that they met at camp. At the time, the young woman was from a city 200 miles away.
  3. Experience Cooperation
    There is no better place to learn teamwork than at camp. As a leader, especially with younger boys, we always taught them to work together. I can remember to this day the time we spent on a simple task of cleaning up our cabin so we would get the highest numerical score. The incentive: the cabin with the highest score got extra swim time. Cooperation was the key to earning that reward.
  4. Offer Unconditional Love
    Camp provides an opportunity for the leader to show unconditional love. Some kids may never have experienced this kind of love. As a leader, it became obvious to me during the week which kids were loved unconditionally at home and which were not. Sometimes the child that was the hardest to love was the one in need of it the most.
  5. Disconnect from the World
    Providing a place where students have no access to electronic devices is intentional at camp. It was always interesting to see kids who were disengaged at home or at church start to connect with others without electronics. It is good for students to learn that they can survive without these distractions and it frees them up to experience the last point.
  6. Hear from God
    My number 1 goal as a leader was to create an environment where each camper could experience God during the week. It was important for me to invest in each student, to get to know them and ask them about their personal relationship with God. Whether they were 7 or 17, it was important to hear how God was speaking to them. It was humbling to hear student testimonies of how God had spoken to them and led many to make transformative decisions at camp.

For these reasons and many more, I want to say thank you to those who have committed to invest in the future by caring for kids at camp.  Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed by campers, other adults or by God. Continue to take time off in the summer to care for students. Remember that we are God’s co-laborers.

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