When teaching camp counselors to take a nature hike, no matter what their experience knowledge was outdoors, I told them they only need to know the words, “O WOW”! The key getting kids plugged in outdoors is not teaching a lot of facts (those can come latter) but to create a desire in them to explore with youthful curiosity the wonder of God’s creation. All you need to know is O WOW! If they found it, its cool. If they discover something new, its exciting. If they begin to randomly explore their newly found outdoor world then I’m really happy.
The beauty of creation, its intelligent design, intricate patterns and interwoven life cycles all point to the creator. The testimony of creation is God’s testimony found in the wisdom and handiwork and His sustaining power of the natural world. God’s power seen and handled by campers fosters an intimate link between what He created and those who will take the time to marvel at it.
A camp’s outdoor environment is a powerful connection to reach campers. Kids do not have the freedom to explore anymore. So at camp they enjoy the freedom of unstructured exploring time to engage the natural world. Camp is a time to be away from normal routines at home. Exploring cool outdoor places is time away from the normal camp routine. These times become great relational connections. They become part of the shared experiences of camp. They offer a different pace. It’s during these times that kids have time to think, process and make connections between the messages they are receiving and life.
Is it any wonder that Bible time leaders were trained in the away places of the wilderness? Jacob, Abraham, David, Elijah, Paul, were prepared with outdoor experiences. Even Christ went to the wilderness. Much of the Psalms gives praise to the creator and Christ used outdoor spaces and illustrations to spread His message.
When campers come to camp their senses come alive. All the wonder and new experiences opens the mind to receive and understand the gospel message presented during the week of Christian Camp. Just as Christ used the senses to engage the disciples after his resurrection, we can too with the power of the testimony of His creation.