In just a couple of weeks we will be sending our young people out to summer camp again. We go to camp every summer, and while the possibility of repetition is always a possibility, we continue to see the Lord working in this ministry.
I did not grow up in a Christian home so I never went to a summer camp, let alone a Christian camp. My first experience at Christian summer camp came when I was a counselor for our Junior boys back in 2009. I had no idea what camp was like, but I was the counselor! The impression that Hartland camp left upon me was nothing but positive. The teaching, as well as all the fun stuff, was top notch. That is why we have continued to go there all these years.
I used to think that our young people only wanted to go to camp just to get away for a week, or to play some really cool games that they can’t play at home. But what I have seen is that they truly care about the spiritual side. Our young people ask me, “who is leading worship?” And, “who is the speaker this year?” Those are things I thought would not even be on their radar, but they want to know.
Also, whenever I ask our young people about their best spiritual moments or most memorable spiritual moments, their time at Hartland camp always comes first. There is just something about summer camp, being away from the everyday, separated from all the cell phones and TV’s, that allows the Word of God to really get through to these students. And, we have seen some of our students come to faith in Christ at camp, and even students who weren’t a part of group have come to faith there. Seeing someone else come to faith can be a tremendous experience for young people to have.
I also take our youth group to camp every summer because of a selfish reason. It’s not that I enjoy the games…and the mud, I really don’t. In fact, I laugh with our students telling them I’m the worst counselor when it comes to participation (I haven’t been in the mud pit in 5 years!). I go to camp for the teaching and fellowship as well. I want to learn and grow just as much as everybody else. Even last year I was able to meet and fellowship with another youth pastor and we formed a really neat bond. I would even challenge anyone reading this to consider being a counselor for our young people just so you can be taught and challenged as well!
It may seem like the same old thing going to camp every year, but it really has brought our young people amazing experiences, including salvation. Please continue to support and pray for our campers.
Pastor Mark Scialabba