I Believe in Christian Camps

I Believe In Christian Camps

by Howard W. Norton, Editor, Arkansas Christian Herald

For a person who never visited a Christian camp until after he was grown and married, I am a true believer in the power of spiritual camping to revolutionize young lives. We know, of course, that God – not camp – is the real change agent that transforms youth into men and women of God. Most of us would agree, though, that we can either facilitate or hinder God’s power

to change lives by the way we go about our part of the life-change task. Creating a good atmosphere for spiritual growth is one way to facilitate God’s work within people. For this reason, we opt for a quite worship setting rather than one that is noisy and confusing. We prefer heated and air-conditioned places of worship to those that are steaming hot or icy cold. We prefer comfortable pews to those that hurt our backs. After many years of attempting to create a conducive climate for developing young people spiritually, church leaders have found that we can hardly improve on a camp setting for teaching God’s word and impacting the hearts and minds of boys and girls. To the credit of church leaders all over the United States and

in numerous foreign countries, Christian camping has become an important tool for touching the lives of young people. I have been able to observe this phenomenon for a long time, and I am convinced that a Christian camp is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal for fighting Satan and turning young people’s hearts to God. I believe in Christian camping because it provides intensive, daily Bible study for campers. Educators know that long intervals between lessons slow the educational process in any subject. No wonder our children know so little about the Bible since Sunday School is their main way of learning, and there is an entire week between lessons. In camp, good solid Bible study on a daily basis, with just a few hours separating the sessions, enriches the learning experience. I believe in Christian camping because it enlarges a young person’s circle of friends. We adults can remember how important it was to us as youngsters to have friends our own age. Even when boys and girls come from congregations with very few young folks, the Christian camp experience gives them the opportunity to create a network of Christian friends that will last for a lifetime. I believe in Christian camping because this experience gives children and young people a chance to be away from their parents for a brief time and still enjoy a spiritually safe environment. Children need the feeling of self-confidence and independence that comes when they learn to survive for a few days without the constant presence of Mother and Dad. I believe in Christian camping because the experience confirms the values that young people have been taught already in their homes. A good camp is like an extension of a good home. The difference is that the campers are learning lessons about God, Christ, salvation, morality, honesty, accountability, unselfishness, service, and forgiveness from people other than their own parents. It is not that camp teachers are better instructors than parents. They may not be as good. It is that they are different. New people tell the story of Jesus. Other parents are teachers. Older young people serve as counselors. College students preach sermons, lead singing, play sports, and urge the younger crew to surrender to Jesus. These new voices pack a wallop in the lives of youth in the process of making faith decisions. I believe in Christian camps. Back in my door-to-door, Bible selling days, we arrived in the Midwest in June. Cornfields were green with small plants that had just pushed through the soil. By September, cornstalks were so tall we couldn’t reach their tops on tiptoe. Some said the corn grew at such a speed that, if people listened at night, they could hear it grow. Young people grow like that while at Christian camps.