Why Summer Camp?
When I was a summer camper, I remember driving up to camp with my Mom and my Grandma, ready for an adventure. Seeing the green grass around the pond up ahead on the road was almost as energizing as meeting Aunt Jen. I knew that I was meant to be at camp—it was a place that brought joy to me, as I brought my child-like joy to it. Today, nothing has changed, except now there are brightly colored slides to match the green grass, and my admired Aunt Jen has been replaced by a new counselor—Aunt Amy, perhaps. Today, Manitoqua is just as relevant. The experience of going to summer camp is a good prerequisite for growing up, continues to serve as an effective ministry, and still has a place in the lives of youth.
If you ever get to observe the children at camp on a hot summer day, you would agree that camp is simply a good thing. At the basketball court, you’d see counselors and campers enjoying a game of “knock out.” And at the pond, you’d see faces “oohing-and-ahhing” over the latest tadpole caught in a net. Kids get to come here and experience having community, retreat, role models, and life renewed in the Good News of Christ. With its non-stop action and beautiful setting, camp serves as an experience that helps mold youth into mature, responsible, growing young adults. Programmatically, we provide time for kids to explore creation, learn how to use a compass, and encounter areas-of-interest such as painting. But even when we don’t plan a deeply involved activity, campers tend to learn about love, friendship, and faith in their everyday relationships with others campers, counselors, and God.
As a ministry, camp is able to provide such a unique path for kids to see and know the love of Christ. Counselors have and will continue to leave an impact in lives of youth who have walked through camp’s gates. There’s just something different about a place where youth leaders can so freely and powerfully speak the Truth to children. Chapels, Bible Times, and devotions are all intentionally carried out by our caring summer staff. Campers seem to really latch on to God’s sacrificial love when they see it lived out by their counselors.
Just last night, I gave a tour around grounds to a family. While we walked by past cabins and trees, the young boy told me, “I’m going to love it here!” He saw the nature and the possibilities camp holds. I believe that he saw a glimpse into how God is using this camp and could tell that it was a place for him. Camp brings the excitement that a television or videogame cannot, and I think he sensed that—just like I did when I was a camper. Manitoqua has been, and continues to be, a wonderful tool of our Creator to vibrantly touch the lives and hearts of our youth.