Something Completely "Other"
The other day, I (Stacie) was out with a friend at an event. My friend introduced me to a young lady, and she and I spent a few minutes just making small talk. She asked me where I worked, and I told her about Camp Wyoming and some of the things I do there. Instantly, her eyes lit up. “I went to camp as a kid!” she said excitedly! “It was my favorite week of every summer.” And then she proceeded to tell me all about her camp experiences. She told me about friends she made and activities she tried and all of the things she got to do at camp. She may not have grown up at Camp Wyoming, but she was so excited to meet another person who understood exactly how valuable that camp experience was to her.
This scenario is so common. Across the country, millions of kids grew up going to summer camp. Most of those kids can recall fond memories of days spent outdoors meeting new friends and engaging in activities like kayaking, archery, swimming, and campfire stories. As technology advances and city populations explode exponentially, these experiences are becoming fewer and far between.
Perhaps that is why people are so excited to share about their camp experiences. These moments they are describing are completely “other” than the world we live in today. You think about summer camp and you are transported to a simpler place where all communication is face to face, where every day is filled with running and walking and all kinds of movement, and where the goal for each day can be summed up in one word: fun. Throughout all of these experiences, there is profound growth that happens as kids explore, build relationships, work through problems, and have genuine conversations about the world, the Bible, and the God who holds everything together.
Within the simple setting of summer camp, the world changes, and when kids head back home at the end of the week, they can’t be the same. At camp, they learned that being different doesn’t mean bad. At camp, they learned that everyone has value and purpose. At camp, they learned that it’s okay to fail sometimes, as long as you get back up and try again. At camp, they learned to cheer on teammates, to create their own fun, and to sing loudly without caring who is listening. At camp, they discovered who they are and who God is and how they are part of the narrative of the world. These are invaluable life lessons that sometimes get buried beneath hectic schedules, text messages, social media interaction, and Instagram filters.
Don’t send your kids to summer camp just because you want them to do something fun this summer. Send them to summer camp so that they can experience this place set apart, so they can learn to dream and be challenged, and so they can explore their story within the context of a Christian community. One day, they’ll be the person excitedly conveying their summer camp experience to a stranger, because they will understand just how much they truly gained from that one week of the summer. It’s so much more than just having fun.