Whew! The forecast is predicting high 80‘s all this week which means my husband and I finally installed a window air conditioning unit and have fans going all over the house. Lying here in the late evening, crickets chirping outside, fans whirring all around me, I’m full to overflowing with the feeling of summer! I love summer! Swim suits and fireflies! Barbeques! Sparklers! Fire pits! All of these things are fun and magical. But summer just would not be summer for me without summer camp!
Do you send your kids to summer camp? I absolutely loved the summers I spent volunteering and working at a camp. I may have had to work six days a week, twenty-three hours per day, but every single second I spent as a camp counselor was enriching and rewarding. We played games, went on nature hikes, watched children learn to work as a team on the ropes course, sang songs, performed skits, went rock climbing, walked everywhere, disconnected from the stream of internet and television, got muddy from head to toe, jumped in the lake, and watched as the children in our care gained confidence, resiliency, independence, and teamwork all while having fun!
My very favorite part of my time working at a summer camp was sharing God’s Word with the kids. I was blessed to work at a Christian summer camp where God was the reason for every single thing we did. We sang Christian songs, had devotions and Bible studies with the children daily, and sang prayers before meals. But the coolest thing to see was the “unscheduled” encounters with God that happened throughout the day at camp. Gazing at the stars took on new meaning when children were reminded to reflect upon God’s gift of creation while doing so. Campers who were struggling could expect to receive not only the warm compassion of a trained staff member, but also spiritual support as the counselor directed the camper to passages of comfort and advice.
A fellow mom friend of mine recently said to me: “When my kid is a teenager I hope that they have good friends and a good school and everything. But I also hope they find some good mentors. I hope they have some inspiring young adults in their life that aren’t mom and dad that can help guide them and serve as an example for them.”
I thought that was very insightful and added “mentors” to my own personal prayer list for my children’s and their futures.
I hadn’t really thought about it before, but most of the faith mentors in my teenage life came through summer camp. When I was fourteen I went to a Christian camp weekend retreat and when i returned home I wrote in my diary: “Camp was pretty cool. The people there all like really loved Jesus. Like actually read their Bibles and talked about him and stuff. It was weird, but cool.” (I was such an eloquent writer at fourteen. What can I say?)
The example of older, cooler college kids loving Jesus and living their faith was invaluable for my own burgeoning faith life. I began to see that Jesus wasn’t just some disconnected semi-reality that existed only in church or sunday school. I began to question how I might also share and live my faith in high school, college, and beyond.
At camp, surrounded by positive peer pressure, I was able to recharge my faith batteries and return to “the world” renewed and ready to live out my faith. I have been returning to camp to charge these batteries ever since, both as a camper, and a staff member. Now that I’m an adult with children of my own, we attend family retreats and go camping at the camp where my husband and I used to work. We are already saving our money so that we can afford to send all three of our kids to Christian summer camp when they are old enough. I can’t wait to give them each a week of nature, fun, and Jesus with friends and positive role models!
If Christian summer camp sounds like something you’d like to get your children involved in, check out the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s website to search for a fantastic camp near you.
Or I can save you the effort of the search and tell you that you won’t find a better Christian summer camp than Camp Phillip up in Wautoma, Wisconsin.* I may be a little biased because I worked their for five summers in a row, ;) but I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed if you decide to send your children there. They currently still have openings in many of their camps yet this summer! But if you didn’t budget for summer camp this year, you can start fundraising for next summer. Camp Phillip has a cookie dough program that can help you raise the dough, pun intended.
If family camping is more your style, Camp Phillip also offers two family camps per year. We just attended the summer one over Father’s Day weekend and plan to attend “Fall Family Fest” over Labor Day weekend as well. This fall they are even hosting a 5K run in order to help camp run! (These puns are getting ridiculous).
Where do you and your family like to go to “recharge your spiritual batteries”? D0 your children have any spiritual mentors other than you?
*This is not a sponsored post. I just really do love Camp Phillip enough to recommend it to everyone! :)