For children, no season is more greatly anticipated than summer. Summer means freedom from school and homework and the opportunity to discover new horizons. For Christians who love kids, summer is a wonderful time to create special memories for our children: to help establish them by giving them the opportunity and means to grow in their walk with the Lord.
My favorite memories of summer are the special weeks when I attended camp. I remember cooking s’mores over the campfire, swimming every day, playing crazy games, and being with the other kids laughing and having such fun. Each summer I would learn new skills and develop new friendships. I loved the fun camp songs and saying the pledge of allegiance outside each morning. I loved the cool crafts we made – I actually still have a few of those crafts. I loved the camp counselors, who demonstrated care and interest in me. But what I remember and love most are the chapel times we had at camp.
My first sense of the wonder of God and being in His presence came at summer camp. As we walked into the chapel area, we were instructed to be quiet and reverent. It was as though God was hovering and waiting for us. I can still feel the swelling of my heart and the warmth of tears rolling down my cheeks as I joined in singing the worship songs and listened to whoever was sharing at the time. My heart was touched and my life was impacted. During these times, I knew God was real and He was so close.
I realize now that camp is the natural setting for children to experience God the way I did. There is something about getting away from the daily routine of life that causes the hearts of children to be open to receiving God’s love. Many pastors, missionaries, and others in Christian service say they received their “call” while at summer camp.
The impact of godly counselors upon the lives of children is another wonderful reason for children to attend a Christian camp. For three years, twelve men followed Jesus twenty-four hours a day. They listened, learned, laughed, cried, walked, and ate in company with Him. They observed His miracles and witnessed His living example of faith and love. Through Christian camping, we can imitate the relationship Jesus developed with His disciples. A counselor with a small group of boys or girls in an outdoor environment, spending each day together-laughing, crying, eating, playing, studying God’s Word and praying is an ideal opportunity for discipleship.
Camp provides so many opportunities for growth in the life of a child. The new environment of camp, the time spent outdoors learning about God’s creation make a great backdrop for them to become aware of how they are a unique part of His wonderful plan. Camp allows children to develop in the many areas: physical, social, mental, emotional, and most of all, spiritual. Camp helps children learn new skills as they participate in archery, nature, sports, art, outdoor cooking, and many other creative and fun activities.
I encourage every parent and grandparent to invest in his or her child’s spiritual growth this summer. Enabling them to attend a Christian camp is a wonderful way to help them begin or deepen their walk with God. What God does in the heart of a child in summer can truly have an eternal impact.
Connie McKenzie is the Director for Children and Family Major at CFNI, Dallas.