Yesterday, I was with a couple hundred children, students and adults at our Rolling Hills Summer Camp. Everyone was having such a fun time with smiles everywhere and lots of laughter. Worship was powerful and God-filled! At Rolling Hills, we put a lot of energy, resources and time into our Summer Camp, and as a result, we feel that it is one of the best in the country!
I truly believe every family should make camp a priority each summer for their child and student. Here’s why:
1. It’s Life-Impacting
Taking a week to be away from all their screens allows kids to truly hear from God (In fact, this could make a huge impact on all of us). Being away from all the distractions of social media creates an environment for students to focus on what really matters in life – God, their family, real friends and living a life that honors Him. Students are able to re-prioritize their life and make commitments to God that will have a profound impact on helping them become godly young men and women. Being a Student Pastor for 10 years, I witnessed many students return home from Camp different people. Their parents, family and friends would talk about the difference – “They used to speak to me so disrespectfully, but now they tell me they love me.” Or, “They used to treat their siblings like this, but now they include them.” It is life-changing.
2. It’s Relationship-Forming
Kids need good, strong relationships in order to be successful in life (we all do). First, kids need adults in their lives (besides their parents) who will speak truth, challenge and encourage them in the Lord. It is amazing how, as a parent, you can say something and your kids dismiss it, but someone else says it and your kids think it is the greatest thing they have ever heard! It is worth every penny to have other, godly adults affirming and speaking truth into your kid’s lives. Kids have enough bad influence from the world, they need godly influence. They need adults, both at Camp and afterwards, who will be available to them throughout the years, where they can ask hard questions and find godly answers
In addition, kids need friends. They need to be around other good kids who share their same faith in Christ and desire to live their life for Him. They have enough “peer pressure” at school, on social media and in the world. They need friends who will encourage and challenge them in the Word and in the truth of God’s love. Proverbs 13:20 can be summed up, “You are known by the company you keep.” This is so true for kids. Helping them develop godly friendships at church will impact the rest of their life.
3. It’s Really Fun!
Kids need to have fun. Kids are growing up in a world of stress and anxiety. In fact, research shows that more kids are struggling with anxiety and being medicated today than ever before. There are many factors, but the truth is that kids are having to grow up faster. There is so much pressure in the world from school, sports and even the tragedies they see on tv. They need to have fun, laugh and have a place to just be a kid.
Camp is stress relief. It is joy-filled. There are fun games, laughter and lots of smiles. Camp is spiritually transformational, but also emotionally invigorating. It is joy for the soul and so nourishing. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
Throughout the summers ahead, I encourage every parent to make Camp a priority for your kids. Plan for it, save for it (I have three kids there right now and it adds up, but it is worth it), schedule for it and just do it. Do it for your kids, and, at some point, do it for you as well. Maybe you didn’t grow up going to Camp. At some point, be an adult leader. The adults have as much fun as the kids. Seriously, for all the same reasons for sending your kids to Summer Camp, you need to go yourself. Review the list, and put it on your calendar.
As I reflect on my own personal life journey, Summer Camp was always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It was at Camp that I made many friendships. It was at Camp in my 9th grade year, that I first felt called to ministry. It was at Camp that I developed a deep passion for God’s Word and prayer. It was at Camp that I grew exponentially in my faith. It was at Camp, as an adult leader, that I walked with many students as they made life-altering decisions for Christ. I am so thankful for Summer Camp.
To all the Campers at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country this summer – I am praying for you! May our God move in a mighty way in your life and may you return home different because of your time with Him.
To all the adult Leaders at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country – Thank you! Thank you for the difference you are making for Christ and His Kingdom. If you ever wonder if you are making a difference, just look at me and many of my friends who had leaders like you pour into us as kinds. You are raising up the future leaders of the Church, and I thank you!
Join in what God is doing and make sure Summer Camp is a priority for your family each year!