by Dave Brock/ April 18, 2017
I have never heard a leader say that discipling a child was not worth his or her time, investment, and energy. In fact, I’ve quite often heard the opposite. This even holds true with summer camps.
There is something special to be said about going on a trip with the kids in your ministry to a place designed just for them where they can encounter God with no distractions. Summer camp is a valuable tool for leaders and should be utilized as much as possible in guiding kids to a Christ-centered life.
Here are my top three reasons why summer camp is extremely valuable:
We do this every week in our churches: We design a space and atmosphere to maximize the potential for people to encounter and experience God. Then between those experiences life happens, and for many kids this may seem to “reset” their week to prepare them for what is coming Monday through Saturday.
At camp that is different. At camp children get to experience God’s power every morning, night, and all hours in between. There is a unique opportunity for continual growth with no distractions or exhaustive experiences between service. Children can then take home every experience from camp and continue to build upon them in their lives at home. It is at camp that many are baptized in the Holy Spirit for the first time. Why? Because their minds are focused on one point the entire week: God!
Not every child has an easy home life. Many children live in broken households—homes without love or riddled with addictions, abuse, neglect, and more. Sometimes parents may even wait to share bad news with a child right before they go to camp, hoping it softens the shock and impact of a life-shattering decision out of their control.
At camp children get to experience nothing but love and encouragement in the form of counselors, chaperones, and peers who all are there to grow in God. This may be the first time in a long time that a child has had a plate full of food, or that an adult has said she cares or even prayed over that child, or that this child feels safe when going to sleep. The reasons are endless, but so is the love of Christ kids get to experience at camp.
Part of being a pastor and a leader is building relationship with your church kids. Each week at church it is so easy to fall into the trap of being consumed by what we planned each week that we don’t find time to sit down and talk with the kids in our ministry. At summer camp, however, we don’t have to worry about finding that time because we have the opportunity to sit in a service with our kids—to hear their prayers, to pray with them, to laugh with them, to play games with them, to cry with them, and to simply do life with them.
Let me tell you firsthand that this simple thing greatly increases your ability to minister to those kids, because now they have a stronger relationship with you as their pastor or leader.
There are so many more reasons that I could expand on with story after story of the impact camp has had on my life—both as a child and a pastor. What other reasons do you find for summer camp being valuable to the children of your ministry?