We couldn’t tell if they were tears of joy because they hadn’t seen us in a week, or tears of melt-down from total and complete sleep deprivation. One thing was certain: they were sad to leave camp. They went on and on about their new friendships, their amazing camp counselors, and the life-change they experienced.
My 10-year old son and 11 and 12-year old daughters spent a week at Camp Allendale, the camp our church supports in southern Indiana. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with the camp for the past 8 years as both a program director (aka- dean) and a program producer (production, program layout, etc.). It is one of my favorite places to spend time during the summer. Over the years I have seen so many impacting moments and have been witness to much life-change in student’s lives. Camp Allendale is a special place!
It’s overwhelming to think that my kids are now experiencing these same powerful moments. They absolutely love camp and the opportunity they have each summer to attend. They wouldn’t miss it for the world. I would be in a lot of trouble if I ever goofed up and forgot to register them.
As parents, we are very appreciative of the camp as well. Bottom line- it allows us to be partially kid-free for an entire week. Allendale- we are forever indebted to you for this amazing service! 🙂
But, beyond the brief freedom from pre-teen drama, there are other reasons why we feel summer camp is the best! Here they are…
1. It widens the circle of influence in my children’s lives.
For one entire week, my children spend time with a bunch of other caring adults and camp faculty. We see this as a win. The circle of influence in their lives is widened greatly because of this. The relationships they form from their time at camp will remain a benchmark in their growth-journey and spiritual lives forever. As parents, we love the fact that other Christ-centered adults are influencing our children.
2. For one week, my kids were the camp’s “problem.”
If I could insert a clip of William Wallace screaming “FREEDOM” at the top of his lungs from Braveheart here, I would. Just kidding. I’m actually not referring to our parental freedom with this at all. One of the things I love about Camp Allendale is their strong and unwavering commitment to loving kids for the Kingdom. They take this very seriously. They see my kids, and hundreds of others, participation as a burden they must carry because there is so much at stake. They have made loving, serving and leading my children, and so many others, their spiritual “problem” or burden. And, that’s a great, great thing!
Another reason why I love the camp is that once the week is over they do not stop carrying the burden of my kid’s spiritual lives. They continue to pray, and follow up, and stay in touch. Even though my children do not see a lot of the staff or faculty throughout the year, doesn’t mean they are not connected. They are! And, it’s making an impact.
3. Their experience now, echoes in their future later.
As a former summer camper myself (quite a long time ago, now), I know the value of this yearly experience. The summers I spent at camp shaped my future in ways I never thought they could. Even the bad moments I had at camp, like being home-sick, or showing up and not knowing anyone. Those were character-developing moments. As I listened to my kiddos talk about the week on the drive home, I smiled. I know the same is happening to them. What they learned this week not only echoes in their lives right now, it will echo in their lives in the future. On a grander scale, it will echo in eternity through their lives. Wow! What an amazing truth.
We are indebted to Camp Allendale and many other camps just like it. While it sometimes seems like summer camp is a blip on the radar of a year, because the calendar races by at lightening speed, it’s monumental in light of eternity. I believe summer camp is shaping the future leaders of our world and our church. We have no idea how great the impact will be. And we have no idea how powerful one seemingly small week out of 52 will be!
Question: What has summer camp meant to your family? Share in the comment section of this post.