Conference Camp: Not Just a Time-Killer for Kids

September 30, 2010

By the Rev. Kristen Marshall*

Camp is not just a cutesy time-killer for those two long months of your kids' summer vacation. Camp is a life-changing, disciple-making, faith-building, relationship-strengthening, spirit-empowering, and fun experience that can be one part – and a vital part – of your youth or child's walk with Christ. And if you don’t believe me, just listen to what some of our high school youth have said about the summer camps our Conference has offered in 2010:
 
Camper experiences:
 
"In our small group, we got closer, felt like best friends with the guys, we built more trust … and we felt like we were making it happen."
 
"I didn't realize how many people had similar reasons for going to church – social reasons, community outreach, getting closer to God. It's more than just Sundays."
 
"I can apply this to my own life."
 
Counselor experiences:
 
"As a leader, expressing my faith helped them [the kids at camp] connect to each other."
 
"I felt empowered to do more as a leader, to give back, and that it mattered. My talents were used."
 
"It made me think a lot more. Words flowed through me, and it made a difference in our lives. We felt like God was definitely working through us, and we felt close to      God."
 
About the Bishop's Confirmation Retreat:
 
"It helped me see more of what a Christian was, and decide for myself. The music was upbeat and I could relate to it."
 
When asked directly why anyone would want to go to camp:
 
"If ever there was a time for you to express yourself, meet new people, or grow your faith in God – camp is the place to go!"
 
Our camping program is such a fun and easy way to empower the children, youth, and adults in your church to experience God's love outside the box: through small groups with peers and leaders who care, through exciting activities, and through spiritual nurture and loving Christian community. We are adding new programs this year, including a Surf Camp and an Urban Camp in addition to the excellent Christian church camp programs we already run at our two sites, Camp Lodestar (near Jackson) and Monte Toyon Retreat Center in Aptos.
 
The Board of Camping and Retreat Ministries is Rethinking Church and providing lots of opportunities for you and your youth to engage spirituality in fun and creative ways … but we need your help! Learn more about the programs that are available, and start talking to the children and youth (and adults!) in your church about going to camp! You will find your life transformed in the hands of a God who waits for us to get out of our comfort zones and open to the possibility of experiencing God's love in a powerful way.
 
More information on summer camp programs for children, youth and families will be available soon – keep your eyes open and start praying about whom you could invite.
 
Grace and peace!
 
*Rev. Marshall serves on the Conference Board of Camping and Retreat Ministries and as a camp director.