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Small groups are unique in their ability to bring people together and invest in them personally. After all, Jesus selected his own small group of twelve to confide in and mentor. At Heartland, we mimic this idea with our own campers to show intentionality in relationships and the joy of God’s love. From morning watch to afternoon worship and every fun-filled, giggly swim time in between, our family groups do everything together.

Why small groups? Tell me more.

The dynamics of a family group can easily be recreated within an actual family. This is most commonly rooted in the intentional time spent together. At camp, we carve out an intentional time and space to interact with others and experience the love of Christ. Creating this space within a family can be of immense help when working to strengthen bonds with your children. 

The New York Post shares with us that families tend to share a mere 37 minutes of meaningful time as a family. At camp, our family groups spend all of their time together, bonding over shared experiences rooted in the love of our Creator. In general, families are so busy, running from practice to church to school and everywhere in between, that it becomes almost impossible to carve out that meaningful family time. These small groups create a sense of family, allowing campers to live in their joy and vulnerability, and to do so safely. 

What does that look like for my family? 

So, how do you apply this in your own life? It’s going to look different for every family, but what matters most is that you find what works for your own clan. At camp, family groups do everything together.  At camp, effective small groups are cultivated through intentionality, participating in a variety of activities all together, and doing both of those things consistently. We know that this isn’t always possible in the chaos of day to day life, but here are a few ways to transform the time you already have, or to create more of a solidified routine out of what you’re already doing well! Does your family love badminton or volleyball? Have a 30-minute tournament every Wednesday night. Is there a bookworm in your family? Have them read aloud from a chapter book for fifteen minutes before bed each night. You know those transition times when you’re running between practices, or maybe when you’re all gathered at the dinner table? Turning those times into intentional family time filled with meaningful conversations can create many holy moments with your loved ones. If you’re stuck on where to begin, we’ve got you covered! Take five minutes to create a list of the strengths and simple pleasures of each member in your family, and use that to interact with your family as a small group. 

Overnight Camp Program Director Jared Briscoe builds on this, saying, “I think spending so much time together, even if it is simply eating breakfast or playing a game, leads to deep relationships. These common experiences together lead to trust and vulnerability. I think this is key in family dynamics as well-- nothing replaces time spent together to build intimacy.”

Incorporating the benefits of small group camping into your own family dynamic can strengthen the bond between you and your children, giving them space to form an additional, meaningful bond with you as a confidante and friend rather than strictly a parental figure.