I grew up going to Bible Camp every summer, and it was hands down my favourite time of the year. I worked there as soon as I could and as many weeks as they would let me. I’ve also visited many Christian Camps and had a chance to live and work on site at a camp for a few years, too. Let me tell you a bunch of reasons I think they are great, because it’s the time of year for families to be making their summer plans. Maybe you’ll consider taking your child / children out to a camp? Many have family camp weekends or weeks; that might be a good first experience if your kids are young or uncertain about the idea. It might be a wonderful and even life changing experience for them.
You make new friends at camp. The bonding that goes on in a cabin as people share experiences and fun is huge. Some people you end up seeing year after year and form crazy glue bonds. It’s a friendship building immersion program.
Going behind the boat, climbing a climbing wall, shooting archery, paddling a canoe, riding horses… camp gives kids opportunities to try new things. Trying new things leads to greater confidence and self esteem. They can even find themselves improving year to year and developing skills they take with them through life.
Bottom line is camp is FUN. Games, activities, challenges, laughs, entertainment – it is meant to be the best week of the year. Talented people who love kids put a lot of effort into planning themes and activities that will be memorable.
So many of us live in cities and are surrounded by concrete and buildings. It’s almost magical for us just to find hiking paths just outside the city – imagine a whole week of fresh air and trees and laying in the grass… Sand and water and wind and thunderstorms… Seeing birds and fish and beavers from a canoe… The stars shine brighter and the heavens seem nearer, and God’s voice seems to be clearer somehow, too.
Hearing the Word in a New Way
Even if a kid comes from a home where God is loved, and is a part of a church that loves on them, camp is special. They are away from family in a break from the routine, and are exposed to new voices sharing God’s message. Being in a new situation opens up hearts to hearing of God’s love in a fresh new way.
Meet Great New Role Models
Camp staff are generally pretty amazing people. They give up a relaxing summer and often the opportunity to make good money to devote themselves to investing in kids and teens. They love Jesus and want to pass that on, and campers get to see what that looks like, lived out by someone they deeply admire.
Time to Meet with God and Hear From Him
A camp schedule often includes time for devotions or quiet time where campers can be alone with God. This may be the start of a new habit for young Christians. It’s for sure an opportunity to grow in faith and make it their own.
Home Away From Home
Because of the association of good times and great people and spiritual connections, the place itself becomes somewhere kids long to be.
Sets High Standards for Friendships & Gives You ‘Alternate’ Friends
Not only do you make new friends, but they raise the standard for friendships throughout the year. Having good camp friends makes it easier to not feel the need to fit in at school.
A Place to Serve and Grow
Campers don’t get waited on – they are generally expected to do chores during their week. But you’ll never know how much fun doing chores can be until you do them with a bunch of camp friends! (No promises that these skills will transfer back home…) Helping keep the place running develops a sense of ownership, and a sense that they are needed.
Most camps place a high value on discipleship, with staff being encouraged to stay in contact with their campers to help as they grow in their faith. A leader in training program is a natural next step for older campers. You’ll find many camp leaders have come up through the ranks and serving on staff is a natural progression. Many Christians can trace their faith development through years of learning and working at camp.
Plus if you can get all your kids away at camp at the same time: Date Week for Mom & Dad!
Finding a Camp
Many churches have camps they are affiliated with through their denominations. If yours doesn’t, they probably know of a few good ones in the area that they could recommend. A search online will show you what’s around, but actually talking to people who have been there will go a long way in helping you feel comfortable with your choice. One Hope Canada (formerly CSSM) has camps all over the country and do great work. That’s what the camps were that I grew up in.
It’s the right time of year to start looking into camps. I hope you find a camp for your family and that it becomes instrumental in developing the faith of your kids.
Leave a comment with your favourite part of camp, a a camp memory, or the name of the camp you love!