Camping has long been a traditional rite of passage that demonstrates a shift in increased responsibility and maturity. Today, both children and adults are spending less and less time outdoors. A lot of the blame is placed on the draw of technology. We'd rather play on our tablets than kick a ball around a field, but the loss of outdoor time is also a testament to our busy lives and constant need to be scheduled in order to build the skills we need for the future.
Today's youth have their afternoons and weekends full of extracurricular activities designed to give them a leg up in a fast-paced, competitive world. Ironically, many of the skills they're trying to build are a natural part of the camp experience. To truly build skills that will last a lifetime, consider all that Christian day and overnight camps have to offer.
Whether it's the first time away from home for a day excursion, the first night spent out of the house, or simply the first time spent in an unfamiliar setting, camp encourages independence. Getting outside of their regular surroundings encourages kids to get in touch with who they are in a way that staying home just can't do.
As campers make new friends, challenge themselves, and try things for the first time, they'll inevitably gain confidence. It can be scary to enter a camp and not know anyone or climb the rock wall for the first time. Deciding to do things that push us just outside of our comfort zones is how we learn to trust ourselves and the community around us because life can be hard sometimes. Camp is an excellent place to push beyond comfort zones and learn to trust your own abilities and trust a community, because we’re not meant to do this life on our own.
Camping activities are designed to help leaders find their voices. Many of the activities like obstacle courses and games will require leaders to come forward and build a team that can work well together. By giving campers the opportunity to step into this role in a safe environment, camp is a great place to flex leadership muscles and learn how to guide others.
Related to leadership, camping requires collaboration. Whether it's working together to build a fire or solve a puzzle, campers learn to trust one another and come together to complete meaningful tasks. These are skills that will carry forward into future careers, relationships, and communities.
One of the most amazing parts of a Christian camp experience is that campers get the opportunity to learn more about their faith by experiencing God's love among a group of like-minded seekers. By having the space to worship in a supportive environment, surrounded by the beauty of God's natural creations, campers leave with a deeper, more connected understanding of faith.
Camp is about more than s’mores and campfire songs. It's where young people come to build the skills that they will need to carry them through the rest of their lives, and on top of that, it's a lot of fun!