Will it be worth it?
If you are like me, you ask that question a lot. Will that second helping of KC BBQ be worth it? Absolutely, forever and always worth it. Will pushing “Next Episode” on Netflix be worth it? Honestly, not usually that worth it. Unless that show is The Office, then see the first answer.
If you are considering sending your child to a Christian summer camp, ask the question, “Will it be worth the investment?”. The investment of money, time, and trust. These are valuable resources, summers are busier than ever, and your child is precious. Will it be worth it to trust a summer camp with your child?
I would say YES, 100% camp is worth the investment for your child. Though in all fairness I am a camp professional and love what God does through summer camp, so I may be biased... To show it isn’t just me, I have gathered research on the impact God has through summer camp.
Most of the research focuses on non-religious impacts; such as gaining independence through new experiences and growing confidence through building friendships. Heartland campers experienced the same things. Surveying 1031 Heartland campers, 99% had fun, 89% tried something new, and 94% made a new friend.
The most important benefit of camp, the one that makes your investment worthwhile, is the lasting faith impact. Two studies have explored this topic, the National Study on Youth and Religion and the Effective Camp Research Project.
The Effective Camp Project was a study of over 1000 campers from six different camps. They found some benefits of a Christian camp experience were temporary, lasting less than two months. This included increased participatory learning and cognitive faith knowledge (aka Bible Facts). They also found long-term benefits (more than 3 months); increased self-confidence, increased church attendance and increased devotional practices.
The project summarized their results like this.
“Young people are participating more deeply in their faith months after camp is over. They have not formed a new theology or worked out in their heads the specifics of their beliefs – these effects of camp are all temporary. They have gained something much more valuable: a desire to be in Christian community, a hunger to learn more, and the assurance that faith makes a difference in their lives.”
The National Study on Youth and Religion was a study of 3,370 teenagers, with three surveys over 6 years. They found that 80% of teens who were religious and attended religious camp were still religious 6 years later. Only 56% of those who were religious and did not participate in camp were still religious 6 years later. Attending a religious summer camp increased the likelihood of remaining religious by 24%.
These studies show that indeed Christian camping is a significant investment. That God, through camp, has an impact much longer than a single week. When added to Sunday school, youth group, and family faith practices, summer camp lays a foundation for a lifetime of faith.