This past week I had the opportunity to attend the CCI Leadership Summit. While there I heard countless stories of camps making an impact in their communities and met numerous people who’s lives have been drastically changed because of their time camp. It was such an encouragement to see other people so passionate about the work that God is doing, and to see the direct impact that this ministry is making all over our country. I thought I would take a minute to share with you why I think camp is such a valuable experience for kids of all ages, based on my own experience and the experiences of those I’ve met over the years.
Camp Friends are Friends for Life
This is one of the biggest cliches I have ever heard about camp, but I am happy to say that it is also one of the truest things I have ever heard. Many of my closest friends are friends that I have made at camp. These are the people who have seen me at my best and my worst; on messy hair days and at banquets; making mistakes and great achievements; over tired and over excited. These people have seen it all and stuck with me through thick and thin. The friends I met years ago at camp are still the ones walking with me through my worst days, and celebrating with me on my best days. Not every friend from camp will stick, but the best of them will, and that alone makes spending a week of camp worth it.
Camp Brings Out the Best in You
I can’t count the number of times I have heard people say something along the lines of “I feel like I can be the best version of myself at camp” or “I finally feel safe being me”. At camp, you are accepted and loved for who you are, and you are pushed to see and be the best that you can. There is something so special about a close knit community that focuses on the moment, embraces growth and brings people together. This environment tears down walls and allows people to see the value in embracing their best qualities.
Camp Builds Independence
For a lot of kids, myself included, camp is the first place where they need to start making decisions on their own and being directly responsible for their own experience. Of course this happens in varying degrees, but every day kids get the chance to make decisions and embrace their independence. Campers have the opportunity to see the results of their decisions up close, to experience the joy of making good decisions and to understand the reality failure and that it doesn’t have to ruin them or their experiences. Because this happens in such a tangible way, it gives the campers the ability learn from their mistakes in a safe place, and it allows them to see the value in careful decision making. When kids have the chance to make these decisions in a safe environment, they gain the confidence needed to continue developing their sense of self and their unique independence.
Camp is Fun
Life is crazy. During the year kids are busy with school, sports, homework, programs, chores and other responsibilities. Life is loud, it is ever moving, and sometimes it is absolutely exhausting. Camp is a chance to step out of that, to embrace a quite atmosphere and to be immersed in creation. When you remove all of the business of life and embrace the simple joy of having fun, great things happen. Plus, where else can you spend an afternoon wrestling over a pair of socks or watching your leaders get pied in the face? There is never a dull moment at camp!
Camp Connects You to Creation and the Creator
Getting outside to enjoy the sun (or rain) and experiencing nature at it’s finest is one of the simplest ways to connect with the creator. That is what Christian summer camp is all about. When kids come to camp, they get to experience the beauty of nature while hearing profound truths about God and Faith from people they look up to. This gives them the opportunity to develop their faith and their understanding of the creator in a way that will continue to impact them for years to come. Even though I came from a great Christian home, camp is where my faith developed most profoundly, because I saw faith in the lives of the leaders I looked up to. Being able to watch other young people live out their relationship with God while at camp made a lasting impression on my faith and ultimately on who I am today.
There are many ways you can be apart of the life changing experiences that kids are having at camp. One of the best ways, is by helping kids get to camp. There are many kids in our community who are missing out simply because they can’t afford a week at camp. If you want help a kid have a life changing experience, click here to help send them to camp.
I hope you have a truly beautiful Christmas season filled with the love of family, friends and our Creator.