A lot of comments summarize the places we call camp as a little piece of heaven. Say “church camp” to those who went to camp and you receive a variety of responses with a smile. Everything from fun stuff to spiritual impact is remembered.
Camp allows participants to see what the church could be. Its where campers gather together in a place focused upon showing God’s love in the midst of his created beauty to have an awesome worship experience.
Here is my starter list of seven things we do at camp that I think a church could be.
- Camp is a place where the camper’s best interest occupies the program and love abounds. They receive plenty of acceptance and affirmation. For a week or so the petty stuff that builds egos and divides churches gets left out and each camper becomes the ministry focus.
- Camp is a place for biblical community. Campers become one body of believers – one family living together with one purpose, seeking God. They eat as a family; have devotions as family, live and worship together.
- Camp is a place of shared experiences. What we do together bonds us together. Camp friends remain friends for life. Because they experience life together during their camp session they spiritually grow together and the bonds remain.
- Camp is a place where learning is done in a small group setting. Just like Christ did with His disciples. Small cabin groups create an ideal learning environment. There’s more one on one contact and sharing happening in these small units. Teaching is more focused to the needs of these smaller units too.
- Camp is a place for sharing. I already mentioned shared experiences. In the intimacy of small cabin groups, the freedom to express your faith or your questions comes easily. Sharing around the campfire and in the services about God at work is common at camp. This open sharing of testimony is a powerful growth component for each camper and the family group.
- Camp is a place where prayer becomes a center piece of daily life. The Staff prays. Campers learn to pray. There’s prayer in personal devotion and in cabin devotions. Spontaneous prayer meetings are not uncommon.
- Camp is a place for discipleship. God’s Word is preached, taught in small groups and one on one by staff. Life lessons stick in this dynamic disciple making place called camp. Transformed lives are the product.
- OK, I said seven, but I can’t leave out the sweet sound of hearing young people singing with energy, worshiping and praising God.
Yes, when these things weave together in a session of camp, it is a special glimpse of what church should be and someday will be. Too often church becomes rutted, routine and impersonal. Folks put in their time, do their duty and go back to hide in their private lives. A good week of camp well done can change the routine and give campers a picture of what church could be. No wonder camp alumni call their special place a piece of heaven.