Ultimately, we believe that summer camp is an invitation for young men and women to come encounter Christ and experience His transforming power through meaningful relationships and outdoor adventures.
When we step back and attempt to articulate the value of camp, we can't help but marvel at all that Christ is able to accomplish in one or two weeks of summer. There is an undeniable phenomenon that occurs when campers enter into this place and can simply be themselves.
- They aren't bombarded with the distraction of technology or the daily grip of social media. Instead, they are placed into 600+ acres of God's creation where they witness sunrises and sunsets, wildlife and nature, and the beauty of the world with their own eyes.
- They aren't required to maintain a certain GPA, perform well in sports, or memorize all of their lines for a school play. Instead, they are encouraged to venture into the unknown and enjoy the journey.
- They aren't held captive by who they are at home or who they are at school. Instead, they are simply free to be themselves. And better yet, who God has created them to be.
When campers arrive at camp, they are immediately greeted with the opportunity to transform into the likeness of Christ. These opportunities arrive in the form of making their own decisions, creating new friendships, trying new activities, and learning new information - all while having young men and women come alongside them with direction and guidance.
These young men and women, also known as their counselors, inspire them to be brave, challenge them to try new things, and enable them to spread their wings. There is a unique bond here that is initiated through the counselors sincerely and genuinely wanting to know each camper. The bonds are then cultivated by one-on-one conversations where camper's voices and stories are heard, empowered, and redirected through the lens of the Gospel.
While the development of day to day friendships and relationships are gradual, these are all expedited at summer camp. Camp friendships are forged out of intense proximity, and that formula is rarely replicated. Campers simply do not have time to build the walls or barriers that keep them from being known. Not only is vulnerability organic within the camp setting, but it is also pivotal to how transparent campers will be once they leave. Because campers are encouraged to share their own story, and step into those of others, they learn how to effectively communicate and listen. And most importantly, they are exposed to a community where they aren't tolerated, but wholly accepted and welcomed.
As campers undertake these opportunities throughout the week, not only does their relationship with Christ and others grow, but as does their confidence. They become proud of who they are and what they are able to accomplish. Somewhere an eagerness to try to new things develops and they begin to consider possibilities that they hadn't before. Their confidence appears in many different forms - in the way they react, discuss, befriend, and share. Through all of these things, they again become confident in who Christ has created them to be.