Camp needs the Church. The Church needs camp.
2006. That's the last time that I hit the streets and did a promotional event for Kenbrook. Sort of. The promotional events I do now usually involve preaching a sermon and talking for five or ten minutes to a group of adults. It's been a decade since I did it with a Children's Ministry or a Youth Ministry.
I hit the road to Harrisburg BIC Church last night and I definitely had butterflies in my stomach. What if I didn't remember what was fun to an 8 year old? How much talking verses how many games? What sort of camp activity connects with a child? So I thought of a plan and I thought of what to say. Then I prayed. Hard.
Upon arriving at Harrisburg BIC I was greeted in the parking lot by a father who pulled me aside to tell me that Kenbrook meant the world to his daughter. He sent her for the first time last year and she came home changed. She had a fun time and was on fire for God. "What you do is so very important!" he said.
You know what? He's right. At Kenbrook we have 75 intentional teaching hours with our campers. We counted. Many church ministries have about 1 hour/night and meet from 36-52 weeks out of the year. In one week at Kenbrook you have almost double the discipleship time we set aside for church in a normal year. That's why the camp experience is so powerful. That's why it's so intense. That's why its so transformative.
75 hours...and we have to make it count. For those of us who have the opportunity to work in camping ministry, we should feel blessed that God has trusted us with this! And, we should also realize that camps cannot do this alone.
We need the church as the follow up and the precursor to the intense experience that summer camp offers.
We need the church to help teach the foundation of faith. We need the church to be there for our kids to rely on day in and day out. Church is the community that guides, directs and teaches while investing love, grace and time into God's people. Our children need that year round. Camp offers them an inside look and an experiential education at attempting to live out the theology that the Church teaches with other campers.
Churches and camps need to partner together. If we do...we'll see lives changed by Christ in incredible ways. That's what I felt at Harrisburg BIC. A real desire to partner with Kenbrook in the promotion of events, in scholarships, in the importance of camp and in the relationships that people want to have. This was made clear by both leadership and by congregants. I'm so excited that Kenbrook has been blessed with a relationship with a church like HBIC.
And you know what? Those games with the little kids...they went just fine.