Summer is here, and with it come a busy schedule of church camp!
Church camp is one of my favorite aspects of youth ministry. It’s busy. It’s exhausting. It’s long. But it’s extremely effective and incredible fun.
One of the drawbacks to spending so much of my summer at camp is that it takes me away from my wife and kids. That means that Heather is at home with all five kids, on her own for a while. But she and I both realized the importance of camp and the boost it can be to youth ministry. So it’s a sacrifice we are both willing to make. On the plus side, our camp is only seven miles from our home, so they can come down and hang out every day if they wanted to.
Our camp is Rock Garden Christian Camp. It’s a great little camp, with a great network of churches that support it and utilize it. Located halfway between Mountain View and West Plains, in south-central, Missouri, RGCC is right in the middle of some of the most scenic parts of the Ozarks.
Here are a few reasons why I love summer church camp:
- Camp provides a chance to relax. You read that right. I love camp, and I find it relaxing. Sure, it can be exhausting, but I enjoy it. It refuels me. It helps to remind me why I entered into youth ministry in the first place. I can relax there, knowing that I’m fulfilling the plan God has set out for me.
- Camp is a great place for ministry to take place. It’s like a shot in the arm. Sometimes, it seems like I can accomplish more ministry in one week of camp than I can in six months of “normal” ministry.
- Camp is a place of encouragement. The network of ministers and youth ministers I get to work with at camp is incredible. These are men of God who are solid in their knowledge of the Word and strong in the faith. I love hanging out with these guys!
- I love hanging out with teens. Some people call me crazy because I actually love spending time with junior high and high school students. I think they are crazy because they don’t know what they are missing. Many teens have an unparalleled passion for Christ. Once they commit to him, they know no limits! That’s awesome!
- Incredible friendships are formed. I have dozens of friends from camps in years past that still stay in contact. Many of these people have gone on to lead lives committed to Christ that began as a decision at camp. It’s amazing to watch God continue to do things in their lives.
- I love the food. Most camps probably can’t say that. But at RGCC, we have an incredible cook. She makes the best homemade macaroni and cheese. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…
- I get some intense time with God. We’ve spent months planning and preparing for this summer. We’ve put hours and hours into getting things set up so that the environment is right for teens to hear God speak into their lives. But in the process, God always speaks to me too. I love that!
- Students make life-changing decisions at camp. Being a part of the process God uses to work in their lives blows me away every time, even after more than twenty years of doing this.
Camp is busy. Camp is tiring. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Do you volunteer at a summer church camp? If you have, what do you love about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.