S’mores, singalongs, and swimming are all summer camp staples and play a role in some of our most cherished memories from school vacation. There are a wide variety of camps around the country, but choosing a youth Christian camp provides some unique benefits for your children. Here are five factors that make Christian camping a positive and valuable experience.
1. A Youth Christian Camp Instills Great Values in Cool Ways
Research from the fields of education and psychology has consistently shown that the core values of young people, and consequently their own worldview, are formed in their adolescent years. Kids may not even know why they believe what they believe, but they believe it, nonetheless!
In other words, values and beliefs are caught, and not necessarily taught. A well run youth Christian camp will have staff members that not only teach great lessons about God and about life, they will model these lessons in the ways they care for kids and serve them. Many people will tell you that the love and care of youth Christian camp counselors made a profound difference in their lives growing up.
2. No Distractions
Another beneficial factor is what is commonly absent at a Christian camp: TV’s, cell-phones, mp3 players, computers, video games, etc. These distractions serve to busy the mind and keep young people from focusing on the deeper questions of life such as, “Why am I here?” “What will happen to me when I die?” “Does my life have meaning?” While occupied with fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3), young people have little time to ponder such questions. When these mind-occupying distractions are taken away, campers have the time to ponder the Word in a much deeper way than a once-a-week church experience allows. Once distractions are removed, campers find themselves surrounded by God’s creation, an environment that turns their minds to Him and to the eternal and away from the world.
3. A Youth Christian Camp Helps Kids Own their Faith
A lot of church programs are run on the same model school classes are taught. Kids hear teachings and new information, there may be some short discussion, and then they are on their way to other things.
But, a well run youth Christian camp allows many opportunities for kids to get some alone time with God. These times are typically brief enough to be age appropriate, but the key is to allow young people to “own” their faith by actually practicing some of the basic spiritual disciplines and not simply being a student in a Sunday school classroom.
4. A Youth Christian Camp Allows Young People to Create Great Relationships
When young people interact with new friends who share their beliefs, talk openly about them, and live a life that sincerely involves faith, their own faith can grow greatly. One common meaning of the word discipleship that is found in the scriptures is to “rub off on something.”
Discipleship, in the Bible, doesn’t mean getting lots of sermons or hearing Bible lessons, it literally means that a person can rub off on others as they seek to disciple them. In other words, those who were discipled actually became like the one who discipled them.
When young people are mentored by camp staff members or by other peers who take them under their wing, amazing things can happen.
5. Friendships that Last a Lifetime
Another major blessing is that Christian camping allows the broadening of one’s circle of fellowship. For many campers, new friends they meet at camp one year, and continue to see year by year, become lifelong friends that they care for, pray for, and encourage in Christ for decades. And it has happened more than once that a camper even ends up meeting his or her future godly spouse while attending or serving in a camp setting. God has greatly used Christian camping in calling out ones to be saved and to serve Him as Lord, whether as missionaries, pastors, or just as importantly, as “full-time Christians.”
All of these experiences are found to some extent in the local church and in other types of ministries, but they are strongly present in Christian camps. Taking the time to research and keeping the above characteristics in mind will help you make a great choice of camps for your child this summer.