At first glance, one would easily conclude that the Lake Ann ministry is a Christian Camp, after all, that is our title. What that does, however, is limit us to the perceptions of what a camp is all about and that is not in any way how our staff would view their work.
Let’s clarify the discussion by talking about Christian education. 2 Timothy 2:2 says: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” The apostle Paul was instructing his protégé, Timothy, that his main goal in ministry was to pass the torch to others. That is Christian education in a nutshell and it takes on many forms both formal and informal.
Some of the formal opportunities may be teaching a bible study, a morning worship service, or a course at a Bible college or Christian university. Informal opportunities could include a deliberate discipleship relationship, mentoring or even leading a small group. Each of these mediums have the expressed purpose of teaching the truth of God’s Word in such a way that disciples are made. Disciples who become passionate enough about the message that they want to share what they have learned and to pass the torch to others.
Where does Lake Ann Camp fit into this scenario? The answer may surprise you but in many ways, Lake Ann Camp, and all intentional camping ministries, are one of the finest Christian education opportunities available today and that is why camps can be so effective. Here is why:
- Time: In the camping setting it is typical that three days are set aside for a retreat and in our setting six days are set aside for a week of summer camp. Unlike a church youth group, that meets briefly once or twice a week, camping opens up the opportunity for the instruction, reflection and application to happen as a guided experience. The entire day becomes a practice session on how to take what you are learning and begin putting faith into action.
- Separation: Life is busy and hectic, and we have all likely heard the phrase: come apart before you come apart. I recently talked with a prospective counselor who said the long bus ride to Lake Ann Camp helped him leave his real life and gave him a focused time to really sort out what his priorities in life should be. Whenever we go to a new place our senses are heightened and we seem to experience life on a more vibrant level. That vibrancy also begs us to rethink if our current mode of operation is really productive. This evaluation is fertile soil where life-change can happen.
- Instruction: Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is living and powerful. Make no mistake about it, the power of camp rests in the power of God’s Spirit to apply His Word to a camper’s heart and life experience. Activities at camp are designed to augment the teaching of the Word and not distract from that purpose. Assuming that God shows up in chapel, and the balance of the day is designed to wear the campers out so they sleep at night, misses the true value of using the entire day to create a place where God shows up big in a camper’s life. This kind of instruction maximizes teachable moments throughout the day.
- Activities: Here is where camping is so often misunderstood. Camps sell the sizzle with pictures of campers having fun doing cool stuff with their friends. Cool stuff is good, but it is the means to an end – so to speak. Well-designed activities serve several purposes. For one it gives the counselor an opportunity to build a bridge between their role as an authority figure and the real world where they too simply enjoy life. Many of the activities are also designed to bond campers together with other campers who have the same need for connection that they do. Well-designed activities can also help campers apply biblical truths that they just learned in chapel. Activities at camp are now “what” we do; it is rather, “how” we do what we do in the process of creating a place where life-change happens.
- Role Models: The most impactful people in our lives are those who have made a significant investment in our lives. The key to their impact is also tied to time spent with us. When you look at the statistics of how much quality time a parent spends with their child each week or how much time a youth pastor has with their students you will quickly realize that the time a counselor has to impact his campers is exponentially greater than perhaps any other individual in their entire year. Especially if that counselor is properly trained to know how to make that time productive. This is also why our staff scrutinizes the prospects for the counseling roles so thoroughly. At Lake Ann Camp, our Executive Director, Ken Riley, is the only one who hires the counseling staff, using his 32 years of experience and prayer to guide his selection process.
Yes, Lake Ann is a camp but know that the staff comes to work each day to be in the Christian education field, not a ballfield. Creating an environment where life-change is able to happen is our real passion.