My family and I just spent a week at the beach. By the way, if you have four kids and one on the way, a week at the beach is not considered a “vacation.” It’s simply moving chaos from one location to another!
We spent a week at the beach with about 200 other folks. Teenagers, adults, preachers, band members, and friends. That’s right. My family and I just got back from Summer Camp with our students. Affectionally known at Second Baptist Church as, “Beach Retreat.”
I love summer camp. Not only because it holds a significant place in my spiritual formation as a teenager (see here). But also because every time I go I see God work miracles. Salvations. Baptisms. Calls to ministry. Calls to mission work. And the list goes on.
So, here are a few reasons why I love summer camp…
1. It helps students focus at the beginning of the summer. In May, the only thing students are thinking about is getting out of school. They can’t wait. But a great way to start the summer is to put things into perspective and bring some focus. What better way to begin your summer than by spending time with God and His people?
2. It brings many students to Jesus. Through the years, countless numbers of students have given their lives to Christ at summer camp. It’s a great place to get away from the noise of the world and tune in to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
3. It reminds Christian students of their priorities. It’s easy to coast in the summer. No school. No homework. No responsibilities. But summer camp reminds Christian students that they should never coast in their relationship with Christ. It’s like a huge sign at the beginning of summer to remind Christian young people to continue to make Christ first.
4. It makes it easy to invite unchurched friends. Seriously. Summer camp is a great way to invite people to come to a church event. Even if they might not normally go to church. No doubt, for many students, the beach is a hook. They go to summer camp expecting to enjoy the beach and encounter the grace of God as well.
5. It provides life-changing moments. Just this year at our beach retreat we were able to see many young people saved. Others were baptized in the ocean. Others were called to ministry. Others were called to the mission field. I can look back at my teenage years and see some serious life-changing moments happened at summer camp.
So, those are just a few reasons I love summer camp. I’m grateful for student pastors. Especially this guy and this guy who serve where I pastor. I’m grateful for parents who make the investment to send their kids to summer camp. I’m blessed by many who provide scholarships to students who couldn’t afford to go otherwise. And I’m blessed by students who encounter God’s grace in amazing ways each summer…at camp.