Some years ago, a study conducted by the Christian Camp and Conference Association found that attending a 48-hour retreat had the same long-term effects on children and youth as six months of attending Sunday school or youth group programs. If 48 hours of retreat—removed from the cares, pressures, and distractions of everyday life—can do so much for a young person, imagine what an entire week of Summer Camp can accomplish!
Every summer at Camp Loucon, we are blessed to see the results of camp ministry in the lives of the children and youth that we serve. In the summers that I have spent on staff, I cannot count the number of times I have seen children begin the week on Sunday homesick and hesitant to join in games and songs. By Friday, so many of these same campers will be reluctant to leave the new friends they’ve made, and will lead their parents by hand around camp, showing them their favorite sites, sharing with them all they’ve learned about God and about themselves.
Why is camp so effective? For starters, it’s an extended stay away from the distractions and worries of home. Sunday morning and Wednesday evening worship sessions are wholly beneficial, but they typically last only two to three hours; afterwards, we’re back to the grind, wondering about basketball scores or where we’re going to eat for lunch. Our camps run from Sunday afternoon to Friday morning (Wednesday morning for younger campers), and every day is packed with excitement, adventure, music, prayer, and worship. The worries of home are left behind, and campers are free to focus on Christ.
The sheer variety and consistency of fun activities offered by many camps is another reason these ministries have such an influence. During a week at Camp Loucon, campers will take part in a huge variety of activities that are safe, fun, memorable, and intended to lead children into a lasting relationship with Christ. Through get-to-know-you games and teambuilding initiatives, campers will quickly make friends with other kids in their camp. Daily adventure opportunities will give campers the opportunity to challenge themselves on our Zipline, Climbing and Rappelling Tower, and depending on their ages, our Low and High Ropes Courses. Our mature and well-trained staff ensure each camper’s safety at all times, and debrief and discuss the activity in such a way as to glean some spiritual truth from the experience. Traditional camp activities, such as crafts, nature hikes, and folkdances, also take place, and there are tons of opportunities for aquatic fun, be it swimming in one of our pools, or enjoying a paddleboat or canoe ride on Loucon Lake.
Finally, the deliberate and constant presentation of a Christian lifestyle is another reason why camp ministry has such an impact. Every day at Loucon begins with a short devotional led by each camp’s counselor or dean. Mornings often include a Family Group session, in which larger camps break into smaller groups for an in-depth discussion of Scripture. Campers pray before every meal, and every night ends with a worship session at one of our many outdoor chapels. Each one of our Deans, Counselors, and Summer Staff is a mature and devoted Christian, eager to share with campers about how Christ has changed their lives. Everywhere our campers look, they encounter a caring and friendly Christian role model.
Perhaps the single most important event during a week at Loucon is the Passion Play that is presented every Wednesday night. During this emotional presentation on Vesper Hill, our Summer Staff put on period costumes and portray the final hours of Christ’s life, His death, and His resurrection. Many of our campers choose to begin a relationship with Christ after seeing this presentation, while other campers make other decisions concerning their life with Him. After camp is over, we send letters to each camper’s church and let them know what decisions they made during their time at camp. In this way, churches are able to follow up on these decisions, nurturing and caring for these new, growing disciples.
Occasionally, we hear from parents who are eager to tell us about the changes they have seen in their kids thanks to camp. Here’s part of an email we received from a grateful mother after the summer of 2008.
“When I arrived on Friday to pick him up he had his head held down – he looked like he had a terrible time and was instantly getting ready for the worst. So when I walked up to him to hug him – he put his head in my stomach and started to cry – I said ‘Honey, what’s the matter?’ He said, ‘Mom, I feel so close to God here I don’t want to leave.’ We both cried as I am doing again now while typing this. He said ‘Why can’t the world be like it is here?’ He loved every minute of his experiences…he has a very grown-up relationship with God now.”
God does incredible things every summer at Loucon! To see a schedule of summer camps, register your campers online, or obtain more information, please visit our website at www.loucon.org. You can also call us at (270) 242-7160, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Murrell, Loucon Program Staff