Summer camp. Cabins, lakes, sports, crafts, nature hikes, bugs, snakes, poison ivy...Am I bringing back any memories? How about the adventures, friends, campfires, kumbaya songs at the end of the week? Yes, let's not forget the tears as we say goodbye to all our new found friends.
Amy and I are big supports of summer camp, especially summer Christian camp. I (Jay) practically grew up at camp. My parents were very involved in our churches summer camp ministry. Mom worked for years as a camp nurse. I remember spending multiple weeks at our camp, sitting in the infirmary watching mom pull splinters and stingers, applying ointment on sunburn, rashes, and poison ivy. Of course there was the occasional fracture of laceration, but those were few and far between. Dad? I remember dad going to work during the day, then coming to the camp and helping out around the property. For some reason I remember my dad in a huge hole as they were trying to fix some plumbing or something in the ground. I don't think a miss but a handful of weeks of summer camp. I loved it. Look forward to it. And hated leaving it.
Amy's camp experience was a little different, coming along later as a counselor, then assistant to the director and finally co-director. (She did attend camp as a kid, but mostly sports camps.)
Amy and I met at camp. Our first two years together were spent working as counselor then co-directors. Even into our first two years of marriage, we still worked at camp. In 1998, shortly after our oldest was born, we moved to Wellsboro, PA so I could become the Summer Camp Director at a small Christian camp. In 2005, I spent another 3 summers as the full-time Summer Camp Director at a camp in Jennerstown, PA.
There is something very special and unique offered by camping ministries that is hard to find anywhere else.
I share all of that because we believe that there is something very special and unique offered by camping ministries that is hard to find anywhere else. When a kid leaves home for a week or more, leaving behind the routines of life (cell phones, devices, video games, even regular sports) and is surrounded by believers who are super excited about Jesus in their own lives, God does something.
One of our favorite camps, Pine Springs Camp, in Jennerstown, PA says it best. In their mission statement it reads, "To provide all campers with a vital encounter with Jesus Christ that leads to growth in Christian faith and discipleship." That's what summer camp is all about; having a vital encounter with Jesus Christ!
We love summer camp. and we're trying to pass that love down to our kids. All of our kiddos have been to one or more weeks of camp. Some have been to more than one camp. They have their memories and experiences. It's one of the "rules" of the house; 'Go to camp.' We want our kids to know and experience the adventures that a summer camp offers, both programmatically and spiritually. And spiritually, camp has had a significant impact on their lives.
This summer, Amy and I have the opportunity to return to camp. We will be spending some time at Pine Springs Camp, in Jennerstown, PA helping with their Day Camp. They needed some last minute help, and we are more than glad to jump in and give them a hand. But it's not just Amy and I, 3 of our 5 kids will also be attending a week or more of summer camp.
They encourage campers to connect with God, spend time with him, and grow in their relationship with him. For campers who haven't decided to own their faith, the gospel is clearly given and the opportunity to begin a new journey with Jesus is made available.
2. For the opportunity to be social.
- Hey, we struggle with this as much as anyone; our kids are digitally dependent. I know, I know, but it's one of the realities of our culture. Kids every where spend considerable time on their electronic devices. Gaming, social media networks, streaming services, blogs and vlogs; it's virtual world. But at camp, the virtual world doesn't exist, just the physical. That means kids have to put done their devices and connect with real people, in a real environment. They sleep in cabins with other campers. They talk, share, and learn together. New friendships are forged. Memories are made. Laughter is shared. And epic stories of heroic adventures are written. Camp offers the opportunity for students to be social.
New friendships are forged. Memories are made. Laughter is shared.
And epic stories of heroic adventures are written.
3. For the opportunity to have fun.
- Growing up in the city of Philadelphia, summer camp offered me the chance to do things I couldn't do in the neighborhood. Hiking, canoeing, fishing, splashing in a stream, drinking from a natural spring, climbing trees, rolling down grassy hills, laying on my back at night watching the stars. Today the adventure is bigger with activities like rope courses, rafting trips, repelling, rock climbing, kayaking, and and over night tent camping! Camp is fun. You can do things at camp that you can always do at home or in your community! As parents we want our kids to experience the things that only camp can offer. We want our kids to have fun!
Are you sending your kids to camp?
Seriously? Would you think about it?
It's not to late. There are still camps who have openings for this summer.
Too expensive? Yeah, I'll give you that. A week of camp can be pricy, but help is often available. Talk to the camp about a scholarships. Many camps offer assistance because others who share the vision and passion for camping have donated money to help kids go to camp. Check with your local church. Many churches set aside budget money to help families send kids to camp. Talk to grandparents or aunts and uncles. Sometimes instead of giving gifts that break or get forgotten, family members can give the gift of camp giving the amount they would normally spend on a toy as a cash gift to go towards their week of summer camp!
If you send your kid to camp, that next vital encounter with Jesus might be their vital encounter, and I think that makes camp worth it! Come on, let's go to camp!
- the higham family
There are a couple of camps that we truly love. Two in particular that have invested in our kids well. We know the staff and have seen the heart of the camp at work through the full-time and the summer staff. We trust these camps, so it gives us great joy to share them. Pine Springs Camp, Jennerstown, PA and Summer's Best Two Weeks, Boswell, PA
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.