I vividly remember as a kid when school let out that it meant just one thing to me, summer camp was just around the corner. Remember the energy you received from the group experience? The attention you received from a caring counselor? The adventures, achievements and activities you still reflect back on today? In my late teens I became a camp counselor and eventually ended up serving full-time in Christian Camping. Now after forty summers of camp, would you like to know why I am still motivated to do what I do?
When speaking to groups I often ask for a show of hands of those whose lives were positively impacted by a Christian camp experience. Inevitably the majority of the hands in the audience go up. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God showed up and did what I have observed Him doing over the past twenty summers here at Alliance Redwoods. He “reveals his thoughts to mankind.”
He who forms the mountains,
who creates the wind,
and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord God Almighty is his name.
Amos 4:13 (NIV)
Reflecting back on this past summer at Alliance Redwoods I believe we provided thousands of campers with an indispensable break from their normal routines, allowing them to recover from “nature deficit disorder.”
Under God’s majestic redwoods young people and adults alike were stretched emotionally, physically and spiritually. They identified new resources for overcoming life’s challenging when they returned home. For some campers, the challenge may have been spending a few days away from home with no screen time forming friendships face to face.
Camp offers outdoor challenges that involve the learning of transferable skills by doing hands on activities like the “Flying Squirrel” and the “Piñata” to name just a few. These adventures were “highly” stretching for many campers, but with each challenge met, self-confidence grew, and self-imposed barriers came down.
The difference between daily life and camp life creates space to hear God’s voice. Learning to live without social media for a week is just one tangible example. Impressionable youth deal daily with the absence of excitement in the classroom, at home, and at church compared to that experienced when succumbing to destructive behaviors.
The benefits of a camp or retreat experience at Alliance Redwood are legion; removal from a state of isolation, “Meeting the Creator in His Creation”, forming rich relationships with old and new friends, positive peer pressure, and creating deeper trust in God and caring mentors.
After four decades of personal experience I have discovered that everything I really needed to know I learned at camp. That’s why I’m still motivated to do what I do – how about you?