The 2016 church camp season for our kids at Forest Park Christian Church has come to an end but during the season we had kids participating in three different experiences. We had youth that went to the Heifer Ranch where they experienced life without much comforts in an attempt to shed light on the living conditions in other parts of the world. We also had youth at Kairos camp which was held at Camp Christian in Chouteau for grades 4-8. Finally, we sent youth to the CYF Conference which was held at Central Christian Camp in Guthrie for grades 9-12. I was able to be a counselor at both the Kairos camp and CYF Conference.
In a word, camp was awesome! I know I am biased because of the rich experiences I had as a camper in Disciples camps, but the experiences these kids had this year will stay with them for a long time. For people that have never experienced church camp, it is hard to put into words. There is a certain unique community that is formed during the week, and that is by design. Yes, there are fun activities. Yes, there are opportunities to swim and play. Yes, there are hiking adventures, crafts, and organized games. But there is also a spiritual component to what we do at camp.
That connection with the Divine begins in small groups where we learn, team build, trust, and share what it means and looks like to follow Jesus. For the younger kids, it is a time to grow and develop skills necessary to the community of faith. For the older kids, it is an opportunity to dig deeper into the mysteries of the faith by engaging in meaningful discussions and real-world issues.
Every night at camp, we end in worship. Camp worship is like no other. It is kid-led, spirit-filled, and so meaningful. In that way, the strong and unique community of camp is spiritually formed. This is a time when our kids develop their own faith. Most of the time in church, these kids are with their parents. It is wonderful when parents bring their kids up in church, but at camp these kids start to venture out into the faith on their own.
As a counselor, there is nothing better than seeing the next generation of this faith in action. There is significant anxiety when we look at the state of the church and where it is going. However, after spending two weeks with the future of the church, I’m telling you that we are in good hands and moving in the right direction.