Category: Christian Youth Camps

It’s not uncommon for kids to leave Christian summer camp on a bit of a spiritual “high,” which is great, but it doesn’t always last. For those few days every summer, all energies are devoted to exploring God’s creation, hearing His word, and worshipping Him with other Christians. That experience can really open anyone’s eyes to the majesty of God, but it’s difficult to encounter that and then return to the normal humdrum routine of life. God is evident in the wilderness, evident in fellowship with other Christians, but He doesn’t seem to be so present in school and watching TV every afternoon with friends.

That’s a hard thing to confront: a true closeness with God at Christian summer camp and then almost nothing. Missionaries returning from fieldwork feel it all the time, and many suffer from depression as a result. It’s certainly caused doubts in faith, but there are ways to process the experience, difficult though that may be. Some people find consolation in the Scriptures. Time and time again, David and the prophets asked God where He was, because they couldn’t feel Him at all; that’s encouraging, because it reveals that the distance felt isn’t due to lack of faith. The spiritual life is a journey, full of mountains and valleys. We’re not promised absolute connection with God until Heaven, so we should expect that in this life we’ll feel closer to and more distant from Him at various times.

Obviously, the natural response is to try to get that spiritual “high” back.  The joy and peace felt so comforting that people would do anything to retrieve them, but that’s not always possible, which has been the cause for those cases of depression. Really, the healthiest response kids can have is learning acceptance: that God allowed them to feel Him completely at Christian summer camp, which is an experience not everyone has. That’s something to be thankful for—and to hold on to, even in other periods of doubt. If you’re a parent confronting this in your kids, you may not be able to recreate camp for them, but you can remind them it happens every year.

If you ever went as a kid, you probably remember Christian camp activities fondly and want your children to experience them too. No camp is exactly the same, and most will change even year to year, but there are a few activities you can almost always expect to find at a Christian summer camp.

  1. Swimming. Most major cities and civilizations can be found near major bodies of water, but Americans value swimming more than just about any other culture. With water parks, lake houses, and ocean vacations serving as common components of our society, parents want their kids to know how to swim. Summer camp is often a place where they learn. Whether in a lake or a pool, kids can usually expect to spend part of their time at camp in the water.
  1. Exploration. Leaving the great indoors remains one of the biggest draws of summer camp. A few camps can be found in inner cities, but most are built and operated in extremely rural areas. Hiking, fishing, and ropes courses can almost always be counted among Christian camp activities. The environment encourages campers to see a grander part of God’s creation; it’s one of the most thrilling and memorable aspects of any summer camp.
  1. Devotions. God serves as a central aspect of all Christian camp activities, but studying His word and engaging in worship are essentials at a Christian summer camp. Special time is often devoted each morning to reading the Bible, and every gathering usually spends some time to prayer and praise. Growing in faith blesses anyone, but it can be especially meaningful to kids, who don’t have many other avenues in this secular world.

In this day and age, a label doesn’t mean much. Politicians often adopt labels just to amass votes; middle school students use them just to create social boundaries; and many businesses still claim to be “Christian” just to lure in customers. Having an ichthys fish on a realtor’s sign doesn’t have much to do with faith, but that doesn’t mean everything with a Christian label is a sham. For a camp to call itself a Christian summer camp is a powerful statement, not a simple marketing ploy. It means something: that at its core, the entire focus of the camp is concentrated on God. Fun, adventure, and learning might all happen too, but they’re secondary to faith—which is a priority few businesses truly have.

From the outside, a Christian summer camp looks just like any other camp. With smiling campers, nearby wilderness trails, and an assortment of recreational facilities, it would seem to operate no differently than a secular summer camp. The difference, though, is in what’s unseen. While other camps exist primarily to foster fun or learning or creativity, a Christian camp exists to help campers draw closer to God. From the selection of counselors to the lessons taught and songs sung each night, campers learn about the majesty of God and grow in their faith as a result. It isn’t a church, but it possesses similar goals. And while fun, learning, and friendship are all important parts of a Christian camp, they’re not the end goal; they’re used to help bring campers closer to God. That’s rarely seen in a business, even a business that uses the Christian label, but it’s a real and sincere priority of a Christian summer camp.

Unless they’ve asked to go on their own volition, it’s a question your children will probably ask when you sign them up. With so many secular choices available, choosing a camp with a focus in faith may seem too limiting. If you ever went as a kid, you know the benefits of Christian summer camps, but we’ve still outlined the key advantages.

  1. Freedom from distractions. Even for kids, this world is filled with responsibilities and activities that distract our minds from God. No relationship can grow without investment, and kids won’t invest in something unless it becomes a priority. Attending Christian summer camps removes all the factors of school, popularity, and video games, allowing kids to focus solely on the Lord and fellowship with other Christians.
  1. Breaking outside of comfort zone. School and home life can very quickly become routines, but challenges and adversity are really what promote growth. Being pulled away from family, friends, and television isn’t always fun, but it makes kids appreciate their lives more—and appreciate a wider array of life experiences. They’ll return from camp understanding themselves better and with a new willingness to try more things.
  1. Strengthening character traits. Leadership, endurance, and independence can all emerge in a camp environment faster than in almost any other setting. Some school projects require collaboration, but Christian summer camps necessitate kids to work respectfully alongside each other. Leaders quickly emerge, personal limits get tested, and self-reliance grows as kids discover nature, God, and new skills together.

Most parents remember the first time they left their son or daughter at Sunday school, or with a baby sitter: tears, screaming, desperate sobs and pleas to not leave them. It’s a God-given trait for children to be attached to parents, but He didn’t design people to live with their families forever, and independence begins at a very young age. Half a month might seem interminably long to some mothers and fathers, but there are advantages to a Two-Week Christian summer camp.

Attending camp for two weeks rather than one creates a tremendously heightened experience. To kids, a full year is the longest measurement imaginable, but most adults know that the holiday season always returns in the blink of an eye. Weeks pass like days (or even hours) the older people get, and while the childhood perspective of a week is still long, it really isn’t much time to spend apart from family. The youngest campers can still cling to the fact that the next Saturday they’ll get to see parents again, but when days are repeated and weekends come and go, they are emotionally freed to invest in their camp experience. Rather than holding out for the end of the week, they’re able to live in the moment of God, nature, and adventure.

Friends, too, are much more easily found with a longer stay. Camp friendships don’t always last beyond those summer weeks together, but with half a month of investment, they’re better suited to endure. Spending two weeks together will give your son or daughter enough time to really get to know cabin mates and others. More than skills learned or nature encountered, it’s these friendships that your child will remember and enjoy the most about camp, and two weeks together will only heighten that enjoyment.

There are many horror stories of snakebites, bullies, and bad food, but not all camp experiences are so awful. Many adults look back to an early summer with grand appreciation, noting it as one of the most important points of their development. For some, camp just means overcoming homesickness and learning how to swim, but there are other reasons to send your kids to a Christian summer camp.

Since God created it, evidence of Him can be found all throughout nature. City dwellers and suburbanites don’t get to experience much more than grackles and the occasional squirrel, so the opportunity to spend a week in the woods or beside a lake can be an important spiritual experience. Witnessing true wilderness is becoming more rare every day with modern development, so kids should get to see it while they still can.

Youth group is only once or twice a week, and the atmosphere of school and sports teams is hardly focused on God, so the majority of your children’s community is secular. It’s a reality of life, but it can be complimented with a few summer weeks among fellow Christians. Learning about God with a hundred peers can be an encouraging and instilling time of faith, and it’s an opportunity for growth that very few get to have.

If you’ve been taking your son or daughter to church since they were born, it’s easy for them to think of it as just something their parents believe. Most youngsters don’t make such a statement until high school or college, but it remains a “family faith” rather than a personal one. Summer camp can be one of the first opportunities for kids to make belief their own—when God exists in daily talks and conversation but no authority forces them to believe. Not every kid will come to such a critical development in their faith, but camp at least affords them the opportunity for it. And if they do so, they’ll certainly think back to that summer as one of the most important periods of their life.

Regardless of what kind of organization leads it, every retreat has a few goals: relaxing, inspiring, and brainstorming. For youth groups and focus ministries, though, the emphasis on God allows for a wider experience, so even fellowship can manifest at a Christian camp retreat.

Pastors and Bible study leaders know that community is one of the most difficult elements of the Body of Christ to create. Congregants and attendees work in completely distinct careers, live in separate neighborhoods, and enter the church or study at varying stages of life. Potluck dinners used to be a staple of Christian community, but social schedules are tighter these days, and many young people have no access to a kitchen to cook. It seems paradoxical, then, to ask people to reserve a whole weekend for a Christian camp retreat, but many are more willing than expected—and the communal yield is often more profitable than a dozen potluck dinners.

Isolated by the wilderness, Christian retreats only allow communion between fellow attendees and God. With divergent personalities this might sound like a recipe for disaster, but the reality is that within a single evening, friendships can form stronger than a year of working together, or living beside each other. The seclusion fosters it beautifully, and when the whole weekend is focused first and foremost on God or the Bible, differences melt, and people recognize that they do have the most important things in common. It works best with a larger crowd, eager to be there, so to encourage attendance a wise promotion is the simple recommendation of a past attendee. Almost anyone who’s been to a Christian camp retreat remains an advocate of them for life.

Like most boys at my school, around the age of nine my parents decided I was old enough to attend a weeklong summer camp in Texas, and they used a neighbor’s recommendation to pick one. “It’s not Christian, necessarily,” our neighbor told my mother, “but the owners all believe in God.” It sounded nice and safe enough, so they packed me linens, a flashlight, and seven outfits all sealed in plastic bags and dropped me off at a lake an hour away.

Since getting older, I’ve never been a huge advocate of Christian isolationism—reserving all social interactions for a small group of fellow believers—but even now, decades later, I still wish I had a different experience that summer. The camp had all the amenities I expected: crafts, swimming, cheesy songs. But my fellow campers were nothing short of a torment. It was my first week away from home, which has to come at some point; it just shouldn’t have to come with bullying and tears.

Almost none of the other boys in my cabin came from Christian homes, and I got mocked by one for believing in God, and pushed around by three other guys for refusing to cuss. The counselors were too ambivalent to intervene, and I thought at the time they empathized more with the bullies, since even they couldn’t believe I didn’t swear. Looking back, the provocations for crying into my pillow at night were silly, but for a homesick, nine year old boy, they were devastating. The two friends I went with abandoned me, and I returned home at the end of the week just hurt, not exhilarated. I know not every secular camp will provide that experience, but having been to multiple Christian ones since, I know the emphasis on faith and Christ amends much of the pain I felt. For parents who want their son or daughter to have a fulfilled summer experience, spiritually and emotionally, I would only recommend a Christian camp, as that’s where I plan to send my own kids someday.

Camp has been a rite of passage for American youth for decades, and as such a thousand options are available nationwide for parents. Narrowing the choices down by state becomes easier, and narrower still are the choices for a faith-focused camp. Still, recruiters and advertisements fill church bulletins and the web, so there are some tips for choosing between all the Christian summer camps in Texas.

  1. Geographical focus. Most people remember summer camp as hikes through the woods and canoe lessons, but not all Texas summer camps can offer those experiences. From wilderness camps in West Texas to ocean studies near Galveston, the options are as diverse as the state’s climate. It’s important to know what you’d like your son or daughter to see and learn before deciding.
  1. Denomination. One Christian summer camp can be radically different from another, depending on church affiliation. Many of them strive to be non-denominational, teaching the most universally accepted tenets of the faith, but many rely on a specific church’s funding. This isn’t necessarily bad, as a Methodist daughter can meet and befriend other Wesleyans like herself, but it should be known beforehand to ensure a child feels welcome and comfortable.
  1. Length and location. For many attendees, camp is the first experience away from home, which can be both exciting and terrifying. Most young children don’t want to leave their parents for longer than a week, but after a few summers, two to six weeks apart doesn’t seem so bad. Make sure your son or daughter is comfortable with being separated from home—by an hour or day-long trip, depending on the location. Returning to pick homesick kids up halfway through is an expensive affair.

Christian youth camps have been gaining popularity in Texas. A primary reason for this trend is that the camps provide kids with a positive and encouraging environment where they can simply be themselves. With a wide-variety of programs for all age groups, the Christian summer camps in Texas help set campers up for success by instilling in them a sense of self-worth.

Summer camps strive to provide campers with an enjoyable experience, within the boundaries of a safe and healthy environment. The wide array of programs allows youth to explore their interest and helps to build confidence in these leaders of tomorrow. Christian youth camps equip and prepare young people for the challenges and ventures in life by bestowing in them the tools for success through team work, problem-solving and healthy social interaction.

Teams of counselors are committed to providing participants with the positive atmosphere and positive reinforcement they need to grow as an individual. This promotes a healthy and confident self-image, and will result in strong leaders of the future.  A variety of individual and group summer camp activities inspire campers to solve problems and encourage one another. Set up for success, these Christian summer camps radiate an encouraging atmosphere of sharing and acceptance.

Making a difference in lives of young people, leaders of today are investing in the futures of the leaders of tomorrow, as well as the communities they will impact and serve. With the help of these trained counselors and leaders of Christian summer camps in Texas, campers will learn to set realistic goals in life, while confirming their own worth and competence. Campers will look forward to this positive experience year after year as they continue to learn and grow from each passing camp experience.