Incorporating Faith & Fun: How a Summer Camp Experience Can be a Milestone in a Child's Faith Journey
May 9th, 2012 by Ashleigh Munch, Program Director at Camp Henry
If you are anything like me, you might have had a tough time sitting through church as a kid and you didn’t quite make the connection of how any of it related to you. The good news is that many camps today deliver professional religious instruction and can be an opportunity for a child to explore their faith in an accepting and open environment.
There are many different reasons for choosing a Camp with a focus on faith but a lot of the data suggests that parents view camps as an integral part of their child’s faith development. A lot of parents are thankful to have yet another avenue to expose their child to certain beliefs and to staff who are thrilled about sharing their views in a respectful way. Much can be gained from the fantastic relationships campers are able to develop with their counselors and the great thing about camp is that it is relevant to the child and their way of thinking.
In fact, many camps go beyond just having a chapel time or a certain chunk of the day that is specifically devoted to faith discussions and are utilizing methods that incorporate faith and fun. A great example is how we operate at Camp Henry. As a Christian camp, we believe that everything we do at camp should be an example of our faith. We search out teachable moments and do all that we can to make no distinction between faith and fun. We firmly believe, along with many other camps in the industry, that campers can explore and experience spiritual truth in everyday activity.
A great example is how we run our High Ropes Course. Right along with receiving instruction about how to put on a harness and the proper safety steps we also brief the campers on their experience and how faith will be required during this activity. We ask them to think about how this fun and challenging activity could be a metaphor for what God might have to teach us about trust and life in general. We also spend time after the experience debriefing and relating the activity back to what the campers might have heard in their lessons at chapel that morning or in small group discussion with their cabin mates throughout the week.
Certainly, all camps are purposeful with the activities they provide. Elements and facilities aren’t just in place for kids to have a blast – as camp staff, we hope that the child will learn, challenge themselves, become more appreciative and understanding of the world around them, and explore their faith in new and relevant ways. Choosing to send your child to a camp that has a faith focus can be another great tool for helping them learn more about their faith and in helping them make their faith their own.
A Gift to Your Child
March 30th, 2012 by By: Roberta King, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Perhaps, camp is a generational thing. If you went to camp as a kid, you’re more likely to send your own kids to camp.
I went to Girl Scout camp from age eight to 18 (I was a counselor by 18), and I loved the experiences. My husband Mike never went to camp, his family had a cottage so he summered there. When our kids came of age, I was totally ready to send them to camp. Mike, not so much. I had to convince him that camps are safe, well-staffed and most importantly fun. Until the day we dropped our six year old son Noah off at Indian Trails Camp, Mike was doubtful that this was a good idea. Of course, Noah had a great time at camp! He got to swim every day, made crafts, got to hang out with kids like him and cool teen counselors and ate great camp food. He was safe and returned home happy. What more could a parent want? Our daughter, Tasha was proud to have been a camper at Camp Pendalouan for five summers in a row and also enjoyed summers at Camp Henry and SpringHill Camp.
At camp I learned how to get along with new people and make friends with girls from different ethnicities and backgrounds. I learned to appreciate the out of doors and picked up some great wilderness survival skills. I learned how to cook over a fire and how to make hand cranked ice cream. I still remember all the verses and motions to hundreds of great songs. I became a strong swimmer and capable boater. I learned at an early age that there was a big world outside my family, and that I could survive without my parents for a week or two. I went to camp not knowing anyone and made friends with people I still know and enjoy.
Have no doubt, summer camp is a gift you can give your child that will last longer and be more meaningful than anything you can buy in a store.