Many people have meaningful, lifelong memories from going to camp as a child or youth. Church camp has helped form many dedicated, passionate Christians into who we are today. Campers, deans and counselors will be making many different memories this summer, and we are so thankful for the chance to give them memories of having fun in a beautiful place and learning about the things of God. Here are 8 reasons why Summer camp plays such an important role in ministry:

Time to get away – At camp kids get out of their normal routines and can get away from distractions and the chaos of life. They get to take advantage of the retreat aspect of camp. Sometimes when kids are away, they just tend to hear things in a new way. Camp allows them to just have fun with new friends and to focus on God.

Bible Time – Campers get to saturate their minds and hearts with God’s word. Most people come back from camp on a “spiritual high” because they have tasted the greatness of God and His word. Spending hours every day studying His word, hearing Bible lessons, and singing praises to God will do that to you! Since their homes are a very different and far less spiritual environment, we pray that their relationship with God will continue to grow and thrive throughout their lives. This time away from family and siblings can allow campers to form their own identity with Christ and to develop their own faith.

Nature – Spending time in God’s creation is an inspiring part of camp. There is nothing like being from the sounds of a busy world, listening to the birds and the bugs in the trees, and breathing the fresh air. Nature helps us all better appreciate our Creator!

Unique opportunities and experiences – Campers can do things at camp that they just can’t do at home. It isn’t often that you can get away with smearing shaving cream on adults or smashing water balloons on strangers, but camp is the place where these things are normal and acceptable. Because of these unique opportunities, you can break down barriers in relationships with kids in our ministry.

Develop healthy Christian relationships – Campers are surrounded by some of the most caring, loving Christian people for an entire week. Their smiles and loving attitudes are sure to rub off by the end of the week. Campers will have many opportunities to spend quality time with their leaders and youth. They will visit over meals, walk and talk around the camp, and have meaningful late-night conversations. Many campers come home from camp and have made life-time, life-changing friendships.

Leave their comfort zones - Sleeping in a cabin or under the stars, and many other aspects of camp can push us out of our comfort zones and teach us new things about life.

Learn spiritual truths – During the time at camp, campers will learn a lot. They will learn and form associations with spiritual truths even when they aren’t in a “teaching time.” They’ll learn by what leaders say, the attitudes they display, and by the way they model their own spiritual lives in front of them.

The campfires – Everyone loves a good campfire, and who doesn’t love s’ mores? At camp, the fires are extra special. Whether they are filled with silly camp songs and lots of laughs or it’s a more serious night reflecting on God’s presence or someone’s powerful testimony, a campfire is always the best way to end the day at camp.

There are camps across our Great Plains Annual Conference. Please visit with me about those you know (everyone) who could benefit from attending camp. Remember, Oberlin United Methodist Church offers financial assistance for persons to be able to attend camp.

Pastor Gordon