EDITOR’S NOTE — Looking for ways to engage young people in your church? In this article, Kyle Cravens of Lifeway Christian Resources shares five reasons your church should make camps a priority. To learn more about camps in Alabama, click here.
“Our group had an unchurched student who didn’t even own a Bible attend camp. He accepted Christ this week. Our group is more unified than ever.”
Stories like this are not unusual. Camp is a real spiritual marker in the lives of many campers who attend.
Here are five reasons you and your church should clear the path for kids and teenagers to attend camp.
1. An investment in the future
A church’s willingness to send kids and teenagers to camp is a good indicator of its investment in its future church leaders and is critical to their spiritual development. Teenagers and kids of today are the church leaders of tomorrow. According to a 2019 Lifeway Research study, 2 in 3 (66%) American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. Camp attendance throughout adolescence and teen years helps campers continue to grow spiritually and serve so they do not fall away from the church once they graduate high school.
2. Resources for today
The lessons and skills students and kids learn at camp can be used when they get back home to make a difference in your church and community. One of the goals of camp is to equip campers to do ministry at home. This is especially true with mission camps. Students learn they can visit a nursing home in their own city—not just at camp. Students may grow in leadership skills, discover their spiritual gifts, or find their passion for worship and creative ministries—all of which can be used to serve in their churches when they get back home.
3. Discipleship time
The amount of discipleship time at one session of camp is more time than most leaders will have with their kids or teenagers for an entire year. Most regular church attenders are at church twice a month for an hour each time. Campers experience Bible study and worship plus have time to form deeper relationships with leaders on the bus and during free time. This sets leaders up for deeper discipleship in the fall after camp.
4. Time back
Planning your own camp requires significant time, energy, creativity and people. This includes steps such as finding a camp location, writing Bible study curriculum, preparing production elements, planning recreation activities, and hiring speakers and bands. The list of necessary steps to pull off camp could go on and on. This requires your team to be experts at something in which they may not have experience. It takes away their time with students or kids at camp. And for those involved in the planning, it takes away from their own families. Attending a camp that is already planned and prepared takes significantly less time. That time can then be invested planning regular events, building relationships with students, and studying and preparing to teach and lead.
5. Building relationships
Camp is not a vacation for children and students or for youth pastors and volunteers. They may lead Bible study and church group time. They eat meals with campers. They spend free time with campers. They make sure campers are in bed on time and up and ready in the mornings. At camp, leaders encounter many opportunities for great conversations, fun, and building relationships with kids and teenagers.
Summer camps foster spiritual growth, personal growth and relationships in ways that are unlike any other traditional setting tailored for students. Now that you see the incredible benefits of camp, here are some next steps:
- Work with your children and student pastors or leaders to approve the trip to camp.
- As a church, provide financial support by making it part of the budget and having sponsor fundraisers.
- Encourage parents to support the decision to go to camp by sending their children.
- Clear any barriers that may try to prevent your groups from going to camp.
Click below to read more from Kyle Cravens on the value of camp for children and students.
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