Faith Baptist Church in Fritch, Texas, where I am the youth director, just got back from a wonderful week at camp. Although I have been the youth director for three years of camp, this was the first I was able to attend due to my secular job. Besides that, I haven’t been to any church camp in about five years, so to be able to attend was amazing.
Our church has for a long time used church camp as a family camp, and it has worked well for our church. For instance, this year we had 7 campers, but 26 people from our church attended Cedar Hills Baptist Youth Camp in Binger, OK. Camp is one of the highlights of our entire church every year.
But why is it so important? Whether you only allow teenagers to go, or if you open it up for more people, no doubt you see camp as somewhat of a necessity. You do fundraisers, practice for the different competitions, load everyone up on hot buses and use tons of gas money. People (hopefully) pray in anticipation for camp. We try to hype up the teenagers and families about the camp speaker and the activities that will go on. The reasons why may be familiar and obvious, but in the spirit of this time of year, maybe it would be a good reminder to consider why camp is important.
- Those who attend camp can grow spiritually.
You don’t have to be around a “camp-going” church long to find out that camp is often a place where teenagers make life changing decisions. I was excited to see 3 out of the 4 teenage boys that went surrender their life to Christ. One of the teenage girls in my youth group made a number of important decisions as well, such as the decision to remain sexually pure and rededicated her life to Christ.
Teenagers are given a chance to grow spiritually, but often many are born spiritually. I wish there were a count of how many people have gotten saved while at church camp, but I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said millions of teenagers, and adults alike, have accepted Christ while at camp.
The opportunity for growth is optimal. They are able to take a week away from their normal lives where they are constantly bombarded with the world and its ways. The distractions of their phones and social media can be (and, in my opinion, should be) taken away. They are able to clearly focus on the teaching, preaching, and studying of God’s Word. They can more easily listen to voice of the Holy Spirit. Those who attend can grow spiritually.
- Those who attend can grow in unity.
There’s something about camp that brings a great deal of comradery among those from your church who attend. Living together for the week at camp can bind teenagers together that weekly meetings at church rarely can. Besides living together, I think that making decisions to follow Christ together brings people closer. There is a sense of accountability that arises in this situation. “We can help each other follow through with the decisions we made this week.” Teenagers grow together as a whole. The young men grow together. The young ladies grow together. The teens grow together with the youth director and other sponsors. All around, unity based on truth is achieved at camp.
- Those who attend can fellowship with other believers.
Teenagers who attend camp have a great opportunity to meet other believers. Some will be reunited from friends from last year and years before that. New friends will be made. Churches that have the same goal and much of the same body of doctrine will be joined together for a week of fun, preaching, and fellowship. Youths will get to be with other teenagers who face the same struggles, yet in a different town. They will see people who are like them. Fellowship with other believers is necessary, and it is very helpful to connect with people not from your church. You get to see that you aren’t the only church out there. There are other people who are trying to see people saved. There are other people who are striving to be all that God wants them to be. These friendships are incredibly valuable and can last long past the years of going to camp.
Wherever you are, I encourage you to go to camp. Camp is an invaluable resource to Christians, for teenagers and adults alike. Amazing decisions for Christ are made all around the country at camp. Friendships are made both in your own church and with other churches. Don’t rob yourself of this profitable time away from the world.