Why Church Camp Still Matters

It’s funny how a song you haven’t thought about in years can suddenly pop into your mind while reading the Bible.

This morning as I read Deuteronomy 12 – 15,

I began hearing a song in my head.

A song I had not thought of since church camp over thirty-five years ago:

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

It seemed so easy to sing these lyrics as an elementary-aged girl and teenager.

Who doesn’t want to feel united with something bigger than themselves while holding hands with other boys and girls who feel the very same way?

I think that’s the thing I loved most about church camp:

I was surrounded by other people who loved God as much as I did.

And I had an entire week of isolation from the world.

Everything we did while we were at camp centered around Jesus.

From early morning quiet time to morning classes to afternoon recreation to evening vespers,

this week was dedicated to one thing:

Helping campers grow closer to God.

Moses knew the Israelites were getting ready to cross the Jordan and enter a land filled with all kinds of different people who worshiped all kinds of different gods.

Although the wilderness had been difficult, it had provided a somewhat safe place to focus on and learn more about the One true God.

The Promised Land would be filled with milk and honey,

but it would also be filled with people who would try to convince the Israelites that there were other gods to worship.

False prophets and false gods would begin to show up in places they had never been before.

God knew the Israelites needed a place to come together and refocus.

God knew the Israelites needed a place to find unity and freely worship Him as a group of believers.

So Moses spends time explaining how important it will be for them to have a designated location for this purpose.

There are lots of things we do today as Christians that bring us closer to God.

Church services

Small groups

Sunday school

Bible studies

Accountability partners

The list goes on and on.

But as a middle-aged Christian woman looking back on my life, I believe church camp was the place my spiritual foundation was laid.

I lived for this week every summer where I would reconnect with boys and girls from many different churches and feel like I belonged.

Memorizing Scripture

Learning new songs

Playing fun games

And feeling God’s presence from the minute I woke up until the minute I laid my head back down at night,

church camp was my home away from home.

As I read the Bible this morning,

I couldn’t help but think of all the false gods kids have to face today.

I thought of the addictions so many kids struggle with today.

From video games to social media and sadly, even to pornography;

and I was reminded of the power they could find in a week away from it all.

If Moses were here today,

I feel like he would encourage all parents to consider sending their children

to a place where they could learn about or reconnect

with the One true God who loves them most of all.

I didn’t think I’d be writing about church camp this morning.

I honestly never know where God will lead me as I read through the Old Testament.

But this morning as I read,

the song “We are one in the Spirit,”

moved through my mind,

and I was drawn back to tether ball games and campfires with other boys and girls who loved God just like I did,

and I smiled.

For me, church camp was an annual reminder of how much I loved God and He loved me.

And a reminder of how many other kids loved Him too.

Church camp brought Hope in seasons of my life when I needed it most.

And as a teenage girl, bombarded with all sorts temptations,

church camp kept my feet on solid ground.

Moses wanted the Israelites to cross the Jordan and plant their feet on solid ground,

but he knew it would take intentional effort to create a place where God could be met and worshiped.

I think it takes intentional effort today too.

If you need help finding a church camp near you,

please email me or call your local church.

I would love to help you find a place for your children or grandchildren to go this summer and spend a week fully in the presence of God.

It’s a scary and uncertain world for kids these days.

What can we do as adults to help them be ready to face it with courage and confidence as adults?

I believe church camp is one option we will never regret adding to our list of options.

Start children off on the way they should go,

and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

(Today’s reading was from Deuteronomy 12-15.)

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