EDITORIAL: Church camp — an idea worth exporting
For many of us, these names — and please forgive us for the many we’re leaving out — trigger memories of campfires, nature hikes, canteen food and even a few summertime romances.
More importantly, we remember the late-night devotionals and hours spent wrapped up in Scripture, pouring our hearts out to our heavenly father and cheering loudly as new Christians arose from lakes, creeks and swimming pools.
Recently, we asked readers of The Christian Chronicle’s news blog to share their favorite church camp memories. To our delight, we received dozens of responses. The post quickly rose to the top of our blog’s “most commented” items.
More encouraging to us was the content of the responses. Though many mentioned the daily activities of camp, the memories that stuck most were the spiritual ones.
Adam Faughn, minister of the Lebanon Road Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn., attended Bootheel Youth Camp in Missouri. He remembers one sleepless night he and a fellow Christian spent studying God’s word with a friend.
“Finally, about 3 in the morning, he decided to put Christ on in baptism. My friend baptized him, but he wanted me to be in the water, too, which was a thrill that I won’t soon forget.”
Shei Wells grew up at Quartz Mountain Christian Camp in Lone Wolf, Okla., where her dad served as camp manager. At age 13, Wells’ father baptized her in the swimming pool at the camp.
“The singing, the friendships I made that are still alive today, those are the things that made camp what it was,” she said.
The U.S. isn’t the only place where church camp makes a difference in young lives. Dozens meet every summer across Europe. Christians have exported the life-changing camp concept to a part of the world where it is surely needed.
Eric Williamson, minister of the Chesmont Church of Christ in Pottstown, Pa., returned recently from Camp Hope — a weeklong experience for orphans in the former Soviet republic of Latvia.
“We had children reading the Bible who had never read the Bible before,” Williamson said. “One young man who was given a children’s Bible finished reading the whole Bible by the end of the week.”
YouthReach International, formerly known as World Wide Youth Camps, coordinates Bible-based camps in Russia and Ukraine. In recent years, the ministry has expanded its mission beyond camp — to care for and mentor orphans and youths year-round.
Church growth in Europe is slow, but the responses at these camps inspire us. Missionaries invest their time and resources in Christian camping because they see it molding future generations of church leaders.
Be a part of this effort.
Camps are expensive, and many struggle to stay funded in this time of recession. But their mission is important to the future of the church. Find ways to help them reach their financial goals.
Or go yourself. Take the games, crafts and activities overseas. Get to know campers in a foreign land.
Take your Bible and show them the truth that you found in God’s word.
The future of the church may be at stake.