Why We Don’t Send Our Students to Summer Camp

A vast number of churches send students to summer camp every year. An array of options and destinations exist, some classic, some clichéd, and some creative. Some camp options we find like-minded, while others we find ludicrous. But we don’t send our students to summer camp. To be clear, we recognize that many summer camps are doing great work for the kingdom; and we are not opposing them, nor do we think ourselves better than them. The reason we don’t send students to summer camp has less to do with summer camps and more to do with our church and our purpose for hosting our own. We don’t send students to summer camp because we want to do our own camp. And we want to do our own camp for five reasons:

1. We want to equip our students for life and godliness. 

Of course many summer camps make the discipleship of students their primary goal, but we must acknowledge that many do not. Our desire, though, goes beyond seeing that Parkwood students are equipped. We don’t simply want them to be equipped; we want to equip them. Parkwood believes it is the family’s responsibility to equip their students and the church’s responsibility to partner with families in the discipleship of students for life and godliness. We could do that by sending our students to a summer camp, but we prefer to disciple them ourselves by hosting our own summer camp. 

2. We are accountable. 

We are accountable for our students, for our resources, and to our purpose. Accountable to our students, we are committed to pursuing their discipleship and being personally involved in equipping them for life and godliness. Being blessed with resources sufficient to host a camp, we are accountable to use those resources for the glory of God and the equipping of His church, and we believe that providing a quality summer camp that seeks the discipleship of students is a worthy use of those resources. Finally, with the purpose of glorifying God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people, hosting a summer camp is exactly an opportunity to labor together both for growth and for sending. 

3. Summer camp is ministry development. 

As previously acknowledged, quality summer camps no doubt exist, but hosting our own allows us to include ministry development as a significant and strategic element of camp. By hosting our own summer camp, we are actively choosing an avenue for training. Each year we employ interns and summer ministry staff that are trained and developed through the preparation and execution of summer camp. We might see our students discipled if we send them to a quality camp, but if we host our own, then we can disciple our students while employing ministry development through the ministry of conducting camp. 

4. Summer camp is leadership development. 

Summer camp provides us with the opportunity for leadership development at multiple layers. Electing to host our own summer camp places the expectation and responsibility upon pastoral staff to make camp a successful event. Responsibilities that would otherwise be expected of others fall at the feet of our staff. Secondarily, significant weight is placed on interns and summer ministry staff. In a traditional summer camp setting, they may be passive chaperones. In this setting, they are being prepared as leaders. Finally, this context for summer camp extends ministry and leadership development to students. Leadership development remains a strategic focus as our leadership intimately interacts with our students. Summer camp is immediately an opportunity to communicate expectation for leadership, identify leadership potential, and begin or continue leadership development. 

5. Summer camp is fun. 

We enjoy summer camp. We enjoy being together, doing ministry together, and modeling community. The fault of a poor summer camp is likely that too much value is placed on fun and entertaining students to the neglect of discipleship and the training of students in godliness. This fault does not mean, though, that we cannot do both. We believe that discipleship and the training of students in godliness must remain the highest priority, but a proper focus on discipleship and training need not eliminate enjoyment. While summer camp is a lot of work, hosting our own camp is a lot of fun. And it’s been a fun week!

Getaway 2013: Day 3

This morning started off with students finishing their second quiet time. Today they read on the subject of taking risks for the cause of Christ, which, again, pulled from John Piper’s book, Risk Is Right. A quote from John Piper sums up well the main point of today’s study, “it is the will of the Lord that we take risks for the cause of God.”

After talking about what it means to follow Christ on Tuesday, small group today discussed what our reaction should be as Christ followers when faced with opposition concerning our faith, mainly focusing on various passages in the book of Nehemiah.

Getaway 2013: Day 3 High School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 3 High School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 3 Middle School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 3 Middle School Small Group

 

In recreation, things got a little wet with the theme for the day being water games. The team leaders were able to get a little payback for yesterday’s team-building maze game; as one of the games included the leaders throwing water balloons at their team while they tried to catch each balloon in various, odd containers.

 

 

Getaway 2013: Day 3 Middle  School Rec

Getaway 2013: Day 3 Middle School Rec

 

The Summer Ministry Team did an amazing job with Late Night last night, having games which used a variety of items (from ping pong balls, to Ice Cream Sundays!). We eagerly look forward to what they will have for us tonight!

Thank you for your prayers this Getaway. We ask for your continued prayer as Pastor Jeff prepares to teach on “Responding with Courage” tonight.

 

-Getaway Team

Getaway 2013: Day 2

Today began early, with breakfast at 8:00. Even the tantalizing smell of bacon, sausage, and eggs was barely enough to tempt some students out of their comfortable beds. After a short time of waking up, they had their first quiet time. Today’s quiet time discussed how hope ties into the matter of courage, using excerpts from John Piper’s book, Risk Is Right.

During worship, which followed quiet time, Pastor Jeff talked more about the LORD as a Warrior, this time using scripture from the New Testament to illustrate his points. Worship was followed by recreation for the high school students and small group time for the middle school students. Small group discussed what being a true disciple of Christ looks like using Mark 8:34-38. We learned that true disciples unashamedly follow their LORD and are willing to forsake their own lives to do it.

Getaway 2013: Day 2. High School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 2. High School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Middle School Small Group

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Middle School Small Group

The first day of recreation brought on a new twist than previous Getaways. Students and their team leaders built relationships as they played various team-building games, competing against the clock rather than each other. One game in particular taught the team leaders exactly how much they could trust their group as they were blind-folded and forced to rely on listening to the voice of their team to navigate a maze of obstacles.

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Rec

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Rec

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Rec Leader

Getaway 2013: Day 2. Rec Leader

Please join with us in prayer and expectation as we look forward to hearing Pastor Jeff’s message tonight on our “Source of Courage”.

 

-Getaway Team

Getaway 2013: Day 1

After a long, tiring day of traveling we’re finally here at Garden City Chapel! We arrived sometime around 5:00 and unloaded the mountains of luggage from each bus. Everyone was directed to their building and found the rooms they would call “home” for the next week. After all had settled into their sleeping arrangements, a quick orientation was given to go over the rules and schedule for the week, which was shortly followed by dinner. The barbeque, macaroni, and brownies were a welcome sight after the long day’s events.

 

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Orientation

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Orientation

After dinner, everyone separated and had their first small group meeting. Tonight’s lesson introduced the theme for the week, courage. We discussed how King Asa in 2 Corinthians 15:1-15 had to show courage for the cause of the LORD and the need for us to have courage as followers of Christ in the world.

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Small Group 1

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Small Group 1

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Small Group 2

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Small Group 2

 

A worship time soon followed small group with the music being lead by Pastor Chad and the Parkwood Worship Team. Pastor Jeff then delivered a message preaching about the LORD being a Warrior using scripture based in the Old Testament.

Getaway 2013: Day 1 Singing

Getaway 2013: Day 1 Singing

Getaway 2013: Day 1 Preaching

Getaway 2013: Day 1 Preaching

A short free time followed the worship before Late Night at 10:15. The Summer Ministry Team ended the night with a blast with games like 51 Card Blow Off, which included students blowing a deck of cards from the top of a two-liter bottle, trying to leave only one card behind.

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Late Nite

Getaway 2013: Day 1 – Late Nite

We are excited to see how to LORD will choose to move among us this week as we delve deeper into this matter of courage. Please lift our staff and students up in prayer as we come before the LORD and ask for his will.

– Getaway Team