I’ve been working with youth for over 10 years now. If I could point to one thing that makes the biggest imprint on groups of young people (high school football teams, student council teams, youth groups, etc.) I would say it is strategic retreats.
Anytime you can get young people away from their normal routine, it seems like God really does some big things in our students’ lives. Here are four gifts I have seen God give our students over and over again through our camps.
1. He deepens peer relationships.
Camp isn’t long. A few days, but its almost like God microwaves relationships in a real meaningful way every time we go away to camp. Students actually talk. Look each other in the eye. Take walks together. Sleep in the same cabin. Wake up next to each other. Share deep conversations. Laugh.
In other words, they love each other in real ways while they are away. For a lot of students this is the first real taste of the sweetness and the potential of the local church.
2. He gives them space to listen and hear (from God and others).
I can’t tell you how many students whose highlight of last year’s camp was the simple act of walking into the woods to pray and talk with God. Not the games. Not the shenanigans. Nope.
What these teens cherished was the “space” they were given to be with the Lord. That is telling. Deep down students want to hear from God. It’s just hard given the reality that life just doesn’t stop coming at them.
3. He allows them to take inventory of their lives.
God told His people Israel to stop every six days and just to be still. We don’t do a good job of this (as American families) and it shows. Our young people are angst-filled. Camp acts as a Sabbath stop for our students. During this time, students are not doing homework or keeping with their social media accounts or worrying about keeping up with everything. Rather, they have to just stop.
The result for our past camps has been that students take a real, meaningful look at their lives, their faith (or lack of faith) and their relationships. In other words, they “put their minds on heavenly things” as the Apostle Paul encouraged us all to do.
4. He meets students and saves them.
“God saves sinners.” I believe this because I have experienced this myself. I read this in God’s Word. I also believe this, because I have seen this happen in our students. I see it happen at camp. Most students don’t leave camp saying “I’m a Christian now,” however God seems to have a bulls-eye on that weekend for us where he zeroes in on some students and pursues them in a mighty way.
This camp will be no different. Some students are going to put their faith in Jesus for the first time. It’s amazing and it’s sweet.
Do you have a Jr. High or High School student in your life?
If so, please make Winter Camp a priority.
Sign up now for the early bird rate. (Note: You don’t have to pay now to get the early bird rate but you do have to have the registration filled out).
Would you like to sponsor a student for camp?
Though we work to make camps as affordable as possible, scholarships make a big difference. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to do this.
I am praying for another wonderful winter camp this year. Partnering with families is really is an honor that none of our staff or volunteers take lightly.