Summer Camp Lessons for Everyday Life
Written by Kris Wilder, Children’s Ministry Director
The summer camp week is over. Your heart is full. God feels near. Temptation lacks its usual power. You want this to last forever.
Life at home returns. Your heart is confused. God feels distant. Temptation’s power is strong. The spiritual momentum lasted a few short weeks.
Though the spiritual blessings of attending a Christian summer camp are an authentic reality, the pattern above is an all too familiar annual cycle for many church kids and teens. This year, many youth missed out on the camp experience and the immediate spiritual impact that is often associated with attending a Christian camp. But what if things could be different? What if God could feel near while attending school? What if grace to resist temptation could be experienced in those isolated moments at home? Could the spiritual growth seen during a week at camp continue throughout the year at home? By applying a few principles prioritized at camp to the routine of everyday life, a consistent walk with God can go from a summer dream to an ongoing reality.
Heavy Doses of Scripture
It is no coincidence that the increased interaction with God’s Word at camp often produces an internal transformation in the heart of a camper. Jesus prays to God in John 17:17, “Sanctify them (believers) through thy truth: thy Word is truth.” This principle for spiritual growth is not exclusive to a week during the summer. Whether it’s chapels, personal Bible studies, group discussions, or evening services, those constructing the camp schedule know the absolute necessity of spending time in Scripture. In the normal routine of life, you may not have required times throughout the day for this time with God, but the necessity of this time for spiritual growth remains the same. One’s spiritual condition is often directly related to their time in the Word. So though the setting may not be chapel, it could be a quiet corner before breakfast. Though it may not be a scheduled group discussion, it could be a few minutes of reading after eating lunch. And though no one is forcing you to go to an evening service, perhaps you could feast on God’s Word as you prepare for the night’s rest. Regardless of the time or place, make it a priority to inject doses of Scripture throughout the average day. “But I’m so busy!”…
Another benefit of Christian summer camp is the removal of many modern day distractions. Whether it be the removal of access to texting, social media, video games, or Netflix, campers’ hearts are often freed from the grip of these distractions by week’s end. However, the unfortunate pattern upon returning home is often the pouring of fuel on the fire of old habits rather than fueling the spiritual fire stoked at camp. Paul encourages us in Hebrews 12:1 to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” The Holy Spirit directs each of us individually as to what distractions are weighing us down, but He is always leading us into greater joy as we reprioritize or replace those distractions with the fullness of joy available in His presence. It could be necessary to delete an app. You may need to move the location of a television. Perhaps you need to turn your phone off for periods of the day. Though staff members enforce the removal of distractions for summer campers, spiritual maturity allows you to set up your own boundaries to keep you focused on the priority of Scripture and the One for whom your soul longs. “But I don’t have the discipline to keep that up!”…
A third benefit of Christian camping is the unavoidable development of positive relationships. Whether it’s the camp counselor, other staff members, cabin mates or other campers, there is a culture of accountability and positive peer pressure that is a refreshing escape from the common isolation and negative peer pressure of life. Though you cannot bottle up the camp environment and take it home, the positive relationships that contribute to that environment are vital for a consistent spiritual walk throughout the year. James 5:16 says “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” As believers in the gospel, we should not fear pursuing transparent relationships as we are already fully known and yet fully accepted in Christ. Intentionally develop relationships within the church where there is a belief in this gospel and a common desire for the Word. If beneficial, allow your family to know your weaknesses and seek their accountability. Shape your social media feed to promote holiness and not fuel former passions. None of these things remove the need for personal interaction with God’s Word, but without these positive relationships, the desire for that interaction will not last very long.
As someone who has both attended and worked at Christian summer camps, I have experienced both personal victories and personal failures within the camp setting. However, I have also experienced those same victories and same failures throughout the year in the “normal” world. As I have examined my spiritual walk in both settings, I am confident that any spiritual success has been by God’s grace as I have implemented these three principles prioritized by Christian summer camps. By injecting heavy doses of Scripture, limiting distractions, and pursuing positive relationships, one can apply these summer camp lessons, and by God’s grace, find a welcomed spiritual consistency in everyday life.