Category: Christian Youth Camps

A Christian Camp Director in Ohio was struggling one year to find a creative way to find out how their programs were being received by their campers. A written survey would likely not be taken seriously and the challenge of constructing the proper questions was overwhelming.

He knew in his gut that there had been many young campers that had life changing experiences based on the chatter he’d overheard during the course of the summer and feedback he had received from staff, but this was not the qualitative feedback he was searching for. So he had an idea. What if he could get each camper to write a letter home explaining what the experience at his youth Christian camps was like, and what they thought was the most important lessons they learned. This was in the form of a pre-written template that had a few specific questions on it. The director, of course, had their parents consent for this and would share the letter with the parents. So he embarked on the campaign near the end of the term.

He had instructed the kids to turn their letters in to their camp leaders a few days before camp ended. Then, he and a few key members reviewed the letters and noted in summary fashion the results of the exercise.

There were the occasional complaints about food (not quality, but the “forced” vegetable and fruit regimens), but most letters took on a very positive outlook. Most of them cited that they started new friendships and especially close ones. Many spoke of becoming closer to God through the many activities in the natural settings of camp, and the programs and exercises that focused on reflection, study, and practice.

The most touching however came from those that shared their personal stories about gaining a new and stronger relationship with Christ. One young lady in particular talked about how camp taught her to ask Christ for strength and to take on her burdens while her mother fought breast cancer. She felt a renewed sense of hope and acceptance at the same time that if she trusted the Lord, she could make it through anything.

The letters from the youth Christian camps affirmed that when you provide a safe environment and encourage kids through challenging programs in both team and individual realms in a natural setting, good things will happen. That is all they needed to know.

Most campers would agree that when you venture outdoors to enjoy fun summer camps, it is more than just a recreational experience – it can be a spiritual one as well. One cannot walk through a forest, paddle a canoe on a tranquilly still lake, or even stare up at the stars in a clear night sky, and not ponder how such beauty was designed.  However, this mystery of creation eventually gives way to a sincere thanks and appreciation that is celebrated by an ever present urge to smile a satisfied and gracious smile.  We are reminded that God is the Creator of all things, and for all of His glorious creations, nature is as close to perfect as you can get.

A camping experience that is Christ centered and is built around the sharing and celebration of experiences in a safe social setting is what Deer Creek is all about. Christ has been described in many ways, but not the least of which are the terms: counselor, teacher, and prayer leader. If you think about it, Deer Creek Christian Camp is modeled after the very teachings of Christ. Deer Creek and it’s guests are supported by trained, committed counselors; activities create learning and sharing experiences that lead to personal growth, and Bible study and reflection allow Christ’s teachings and words to penetrate the thirsty souls of the young people that attend the camp.

For generations, Christian camps have played an integral role in raising believers who stand for Christ and witness His message and lessons to people the campers influence and socialize with. In many instances, the lessons learned in the interdenominational Christ centered programs at these fun summer camps, form the leadership basis that future community, business, and government leaders need to ensure success.

The safe environment that is Deer Creek affords our young campers the proper environment to gain perspective without the distractions and noise that modern life inflicts upon us. Every year, there are countless personal stories of tremendous growth and tales of campers overcoming fears and gaining courage or perspective to face life challenges.

Consider Deer Creek Summer Camp or Retreats for people you know of any age or background. Fun activities coupled with exciting learning programs, will ensure your time at Deer Creek is a rewarding one.

Finding the right Christian summer camps in Texas can provide a fun, rewarding, and educational experience.  Camping has been part of American life for a long, long time. In the mid-eighteen hundreds, pioneers of all faiths and various countries of origin, camped out of necessity in their covered wagons, tents, and on the bare ground, as they made their way to the west coast of the United States.  In the years that followed, because of the growth of cities and urban centers, our society began to become disengaged from the natural “life education” benefits that camping provides.  In fact, as early as 1854, Henry David Thoreau chose to live in a Massachusetts cabin to write his classic, “Walden”, in which he chronicled his pursuit of solitude, combined with a search for the nostalgic life of a more rural time.

In 1864, a schoolmaster named Frederick William Gunn from Connecticut, decided to take an all boy group on a wilderness-teaching trip; the site ultimately became the Gunnery Camp near New Haven. Mr. Gunn made the correlation early on of how much an environmental shift can enhance the learning experience.  In 1930, educational expert Ben Solomon gave a speech to Teachers College about camping and the field of education. His speech was entitled, “Camping as a National Movement”.  In the speech, he established five values of camping: recreational, physical up-building, character-building, educative, and spiritual growth.  These values are cherished and understood today.

At Deer Creek, we strive to meet the aforementioned values through our programs and adventure experiences with our Christian summer camps in Texas.  We provide an atmosphere with opportunities for children to engage in valuable, experiential learning. This type of learning allows kids to take the information and lessons they have learned and apply them in real world situations.

Recreation

Deer Creek is a summer camp in Texas that offers all of the things you would expect a summer camp to be in the area of recreation and fun. At the end of a long day filled with new adventures and learning experiences, you may even partake in the American custom of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores around the campfire. Napkins are provided J.

Specialty Classes

Campers may choose 2 classes from football, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, photography, dance, drama, swimming, outdoor wilderness, guitar (guitars not provided), tennis, and arts & crafts. Specialty counselors are hired to coach these classes so that campers gain skills and confidence in their desired specialty, all while still having a blast.

Activities

Team building activities are a big part of the Deer Creek experience. Working together to set goals and achieve them, individually or as a group, teaches the campers life-long skills, as well as increases confidence and trust in societal situations.

Spiritual

Whether it is contemplating God’s beautiful creations while staring up at a star-lit sky, or sitting on the cabin porch studying the Bible, Deer Creek is committed to teach interdenominational, Christ centered values to campers through guided learning and activities. Sharing experiences and new understandings with new friends is a very rewarding experience, and happens every day at our Christian summer camps in Texas.

When you tally up the benefits derived from attending a well rounded camp like Deer Creek, you realize that many “life education” experiences have been gained and will likely impact the lives of campers for a long time to come.  They will carry their experiences with them, as they become tomorrow’s leaders.

According to a report by the American Camp Association:

  • 96% of campers say camp helped them make new friends.
  • 92% of campers say camp helped them feel good about themselves.
  • 74% of campers say they tried things that they were afraid to do at first.
  • 70% of parents say their camper gained self-confidence at camp.

To learn more about Deer Creek, and how a child (or adult) you know could benefit from the experiences outlined here, visit www.deercreekcamp.com or call: (830) 589-7123.

In just about every genre, movies like depicting camp. Hollywood has used the setting for so many films that they’ve nearly romanticized the whole concept. Kids who have never been can hardly believe such a place exists, and grown ups retain nostalgic memories of their time at camp. First timers attend in wide-eyed expectation, but kids returning always have a few Christian camp activities they can’t wait to do again. Individual preferences certainly vary, and the diversity of camp activities lets everyone choose a favorite, but these three are always near the top of any list.

  1. Reuniting with friends. It can’t be listed among formal Christian camp activities because it happens in an instant. Camp gathers together kids from all over the state, sometimes nation, to spend a few summer days in friendship. Campers might write letters to each other during the school year, but it’s always the first day of camp where bonds truly reunite.
  1. Encountering creation. Camp offers kids a wide range of learning opportunities. Christian camp activities can teach sports, crafting, swimming, and a whole host of other skills. It’s the opportunity to be outside, though, the real immersion in the natural world that kids love the most. City dwellers rarely get to see the untamed wilderness, which is why so many campers look forward to just being outside.
  1. Time with God. It’s called Christian camp for a reason, and really, all of the other activities pale in comparison with the true purpose of camp. The youngest campers may not have developed the mind or faith for a profound spiritual experience, but older kids and counselors know these weeks can be a time of intense connection with God. Without distractions, responsibilities, and a bustling city, the worship sessions and quiet times at camp often lead to a deeper connection with the Lord. It isn’t uncommon, then, for many campers to appreciate their time with God most of all.

With all the anticipation leading up to Christian summer camp, the actual time there passes by in an instant. It certainly isn’t a forgettable experience, but with so many activities, friendships, and adventures condensed into a few short days, it’s easy for campers to forget the bulk of their experience. Journaling or writing events down in letters to parents can help the memories stick, but hours spent transcribing camp are hours lost enjoying it. Scrapbookers collect mementos because pictures, items, and pamphlets aid the recollection of the past. Since camp is nestled so deeply into the wilderness, you can utilize the concept of a scrapbook while appreciating the outdoors.  Making a field guide at camp helps you enjoy your natural surroundings and remember the bulk of what you’ve seen and done.

Field guides have been around for centuries. From ancient explorers to modern-day bird watchers, they force the mind to closely observe plants and animals. One of the main allures of Christian summer camp is the rare opportunity to witness God’s creation. It’s common for campers to spend most of their free time exploring and hiking: taking in the scenic beauty of the world. By documenting the animals and plants you encounter, you see them better and appreciate them more fully. A field guide, though, doesn’t just make that camp experience more enjoyable: it helps you remember your time at camp. A sketch of an armadillo doesn’t just conjure up the moment you saw that animal. It’s a key that opens a doorway of memories: from the potato salad you ate before your hike to the worship session you were almost late to afterward. So much of camp is enjoyable that you don’t want to forget anything. Keeping a natural journal with a field guide can ensure you won’t.

The biblical Church, the collection of all Christians in the world, is said to work like a body. In his letters, Paul talked often about the importance of every part, the individual gifts every person brings to create a functional whole. The reality, though, is that most groups of Christians, from churches to school clubs, work more like a contentious family than a body. We’re humans, and flawed, so while there might be love, there’s a lot of bickering, jealousy, and conflicting personalities too. The only perfect community will exist in Heaven, so here on earth the best we can do is strive for that standard set by Paul. It’s helpful in all of life to think of community like the body of Christ, but it’s especially good preparation for Christian summer camp.

If you’re sending your son or daughter to Christian summer camp for the first time, they’re likely to be shocked by a number of things. Homesickness often dominates the letters sent home, and the ruggedness of the outdoors surprises many kids who haven’t spent much time outside of the city. The first time away from home and expansiveness of God’s creation is a lot to take in, but encountering the diversity of fellow campers can require more preparation than anything else. Camp may be the first time they’re confronted with kids of different denominations, upbringings, and ethnicities—or at least the first time they all have to live side by side. Culture shock isn’t just something that happens to missionaries going abroad. It’s a reality for even Americans, and one of the best antidotes to that shock is understanding the Body of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul described the various gifts that Christians receive, from teaching to wisdom to faith. It’s a long list and a segue into his metaphor of the Church. Like parts of a body, every Christian has different gifts, different strengths, and different weaknesses. On their own they’re very limited, but together they create a human machine better and more powerful than the sum of its parts. It all sounds great in theory, but differences tend to create disruption and distrust more than unity. Paul discusses the Body of Christ in almost all of his letters because he has to instill this notion in every church: that living and worshipping together may be a challenge, but it’s God’s design for Christian community. It applies to Bible studies, international ministries, and even Christian summer camp.

At Christian summer camp, the main things kids have in common is that they’re there, and they’re Christian. Everything else, school, home lives, and hobbies, can be completely different, but that’s okay—it’s actually one of the joys of camp friendships. Your kids will get to sleep, hike, and eat alongside dozens of others from different schools, denominations, even states. It’s a small glimpse at the grander Body of Christ. Amazing friendships will emerge, but not all campers bond instantly. Some will annoy your son or daughter; some will seem calloused or strange; and a few tend to boss everyone else around. In a work environment, that’s a fact to tolerate, but at Christian summer camp, it can lead to a spiritual lesson. If your kids know about the Body of Christ and understand that God gifted each person differently, they may be more patient with the campers that seem annoying. They might be hard to live with, but often they’re just different, and always they’ll have gifts and talents that the Church needs.

By their name alone, Christian summer camps in Texas sound like a very exclusive group. Science camps are only for kids who love science; diabetes camps just cater to children whose bodies can’t produce insulin; Christian camps, then, seem as though they would preclude atheist, Jewish, and skeptic boys and girls from attending. Wondering if non-Christians can go too might sound like a silly question, because few Hindi parents would ever consider sending their daughters to Christian summer camps in Texas. Other parents, though, have to ask this. Not every Christian household raises Christian kids. Whether out of rebellion, personal anguish, or the result of reading an atheist treatise online, at some point many kids doubt the faith of their parents. It’s a troubling but common thing, and it shouldn’t necessarily bar these skeptical children from attending Christian summer camp.

In the Jewish faith, turning thirteen marks a child’s entrance into adulthood. They have grasped the Law, and they become responsible for their own actions, no longer able to blame their immature and childish minds. The Christian faith doesn’t possess such a rigid age, but many doctrines and theological perspectives imply that there is a point of accountability, when a child’s mind has progressed enough to understand God. It’s that point where faith becomes one’s own. Depending on the decision, it can be a frightening or exciting time for Christian parents. Kids are no longer “Christian” just because they’re put in Sunday School once a week. They believe in God by choice, or they don’t.

Faith is often described as a journey. Many high profile pastors and Christian writers discussed the years they spent apart from God. The reality is that few Christians have spent every day of their lives fully committed to the Lord: most have regressed from or rebelled against or rejected their faith at some point. Even in those moments, though, people are usually wrestling with God and doctrine, trying to figure out what they believe. From the outside they may appear completely calloused and set in agnosticism, but within their hearts they remain curious, longing for truth. Kids in that position may refuse to go to church with their parents, but they may still find peace and faith in God by attending Christian summer camps in Texas.

If faith is a journey, it’s absurd to think that every 8-18 year old is at an identical place with God. Every kid will have a different level of Scriptural knowledge, a different experience with church, and different questions about the nature of God. One of the great joys of Christian summer camps in Texas is that so many varied perspectives can come together to learn more about Christianity. Camp isn’t seminary. It doesn’t require a fifty-page application and interview with a board of theologians. Camp is a place where kids of all ages and levels of belief can congregate and journey together towards God. A child who’s militantly opposed to Jesus might be too resistant to travel anywhere in his faith, but someone simply pondering the Bible could still find a place at Christian summer camps in Texas. The name implies it’s only for the most religiously sincere, but Christian camp is more than anything a place to grow in God. It doesn’t matter where kids begin; as long as they’re open to growth and learning, there’s a place for them at camp.

These days, you can find Christian summer camps for all ages, from Kindergarten to young adults, which is a confusingly wide range. Proper childhood development has become the subject of endless parenting books, all of which offer a different opinion on how and when children should experience the world. Sending them off to an overnight camp way too early could be traumatizing, but waiting too late could make them miss an opportunity to really grow, mature, and enjoy themselves. Parents might know their sons and daughters well, but they might not be able to discern the proper time and age to send them to camp. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set rule that dictates that eight, six, or eleven is the best age. It all depends on your child. That directionless statement might discourage some parents, but they can at least follow some guidelines to determine the proper time for Christian summer camps.

  1. While there isn’t a specific age that’s best for sending your kids off to camp, most professionals warn against sending kids younger than seven. A handful of six-year-olds might be prepared, but in general, boys and girls who have completed first grade tend to be more skilled at adapting to a camp environment. If they do well at friends’ sleepovers, they’ll probably do well at overnight Christian summer camps. Just be sure to research the age range of a camp before you send your son there. If he’s eight but surrounded by high school aged campers, it can be a terrifying experience. First time campers, in particular, should be surrounded by peers their own age.
  1. Observe your child’s interest in Christian summer camps. If you went as a kid and loved it, casually tell some stories about your experiences, or watch a movie as a family about summer camp. It tends to be an amazing experience that almost any personality type can enjoy, but kids of any age can have a miserable time if they’re forced to go against their will. The idea should excite your kids, and judging their reactions to stories or movies about camp will reveal if it’s a good idea or not. You might think the socialization and adventure would be optimal for your daughter, but if she expresses no interest—or worse, a disinterest—this year is probably not the best summer to sign her up.
  1. Parents fear college because it’s the point when, finally, their sons and daughters are independent adults, making their own mistakes and decisions. To lose that control frightens a lot of people, so they spend every year of parenting instilling values and offering guidance. Christian summer camps aren’t as dramatic as that, but they do serve as a time of little parental control. It’s the first time most children have to experience God without their parents beside them in church, and it’s the first time they encounter people and friends their parents haven’t met. It takes a mature kid to be ready for that sudden freedom. So before you send your children off to camp, make sure they’re prepared to make some good decisions.

To people who don’t go to church often, a Christian camp retreat might sound a bit cultish, but to anyone who’s been, it’s a powerful experience. Companies, wellness centers, and fraternities have “retreats” pretty often, but they’re usually a long day spent in a hotel conference room. These events tend to be productive gatherings to create business plans and learn new procedures, but they’re not restful or relaxing as the word retreat traditionally means. All that changes, however, with a Christian camp retreat. Not only does the respite from a big city force relaxation, these weekends can be as productive as any business event. But instead of learning new sales techniques, attendees learn about God.

A retreat should energize the people who go to it, which doesn’t mean giving them a long weekend to sleep in. A Christian camp retreat is often full of friends and acquaintances that will become friends by the end of the weekend. This conversation and fellowship makes for short nights, but somehow people still leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The Spirit of God works powerfully beyond the distractions of everyday life, and a community of believers supports and strengthens even weary souls.

Those feeling especially exhausted with work, life, and familial responsibilities often come away from Christian retreats ready and excited to face the world. These weekends of isolation help establish perspective. Even people who considered their faith lacking can return from retreats strengthened and supported by God. It does sound cultish to some people, but a Christian camp retreat is really a personal, energizing experience that many others have come to rely on.

Except for a few exceptions, summer camp is for kids, an experience that ends with high school graduation. For those who love it, this can be a sudden even, but despite having grown up, those who really love it tend to return to their old stomping grounds. College students, in particular, want to relive their camp experience after they turn in term papers and finals: just as workers, not campers. Since college affords a nice summer break, many people hope to fill their free time as Christian camp counselors, but only a few are really qualified. We at Deer Creek know how integral great counselors are to a great camp experience, so we’ve identified a handful of qualities we consider important to the job.

  1. Discerning. Camp tends to be a lot of fun, but that doesn’t guarantee every personality will mesh well in a cabin. Kids can put on a good face and feign excitement in a crowd, but Christian camp counselors need to be able to see how their campers are honestly fairing. If someone feels left out, sick, or scared, counselors have to discern those hidden feelings in order to address them and make campers feel welcome, better, and more at peace.
  1. Empathetic. Even high school campers can get homesick, and the best Christian camp counselors will be sensitive to and understanding about this. Their counselor should be the primary person campers trust, and that trust is often built upon a caring, sensitive spirit. Even if kids are being irrational, which they often are, a good counselor will be mature enough to see past that and care for them regardless.
  1. Fun. This often defines a camp experience, so we think it should define our counselors too. Empathy and discernment are critical, but camp isn’t just about sitting around, discussing feelings. It’s about enjoying the outdoors, making new friends, experiencing God in a new, exciting way, and just having a good time. Christian camp counselors should love to have fun as much as their campers. Excitement and joy are infectious, so the more fun a counselor can have, the more their campers will have.
  1. Experienced. Especially if they’re attending camp for the first time, kids can find the whole concept a little daunting. It might be the first time they’ve been away from family, their first experience with the outdoors, or the only time they’ve been surrounded by so many peers and so few adults. They look to their Christian camp counselors for direction and guidance, so those counselors need to know the process well themselves. The best tend to be former campers, but others can learn the ropes quickly through orientation and exploring the campgrounds on their own.
  1. Respectable. Parents send their kids to camp for a variety of reasons, but if they’ve chosen a Christian camp, they’re probably hoping their kids will grow in faith. Seeing a young adult, really living his or her faith, can finally make Jesus become alive. Christianity can seem like a Sunday thing to kids, or just what their parents believe. Christian camp counselors can shatter that notion by being the first young, cool Christian that kids encounter. That’s a respectable role. We look for counselors who are worthy of such respect, men and women who serve as role models and Christians who really exude the light of Christ.