“It is the tendency of a fire to go out.” When Sean Fox, who serves on the board of Lake Ann Camp, shared that with me years ago it stuck in my mind. Putting fuel on a fire and lighting it is pretty exciting at first but without regular stoking that fire dwindles to nothing over a period of time. Camp stokes a spiritual fire in a camper’s life and when the process is understood it can then be replicated back home.
How camp starts that fire:
- The fuel – Campers from lots of different backgrounds.
- The oxygen – The breath of God’s Spirit moving.
- The spark – The teaching of God’s Word.
The camp environment is particularly great for starting fires because of staff whose fire is already burning hot. Careful selection of our staff ensures that they have a heart for God, a heart for people and that they are already involved in influencing others for the cause of Christ. Add to this a rigorous pursuit of age-specific programming ideas and it is amazing how quickly God gets ahold of even the hardest hearts. Making that process even more effective is the selection of godly speakers who have a heart for sharing to specific age levels. All day, every day each of these aspects pursues the hearts of campers and draws them into a relationship with God.
The challenge of keeping the fire alive is that life back home is not as structured for life change as a week of camp. Part of the challenge is the support structure at home is familiar. At camp, being away from what is normal has a way of challenging campers to step outside of their comfort zones. Add to that new friends and the potential for life-change comes as campers re-create who they are in front of a whole new audience. That re-created picture in their minds often comes with a fresh desire to be different back home too. A desire strong enough to cause campers to push back on those forcing them back into the old mold when they return from camp.
Ways to keep the fire going:
- Throw more fuel on the fire – this happens in community. Campers need a new community back home that is sympathetic to their desire to change old patterns of behavior. They can get this in kids clubs, youth group or small groups but the point is the fire doesn’t stay alive without this kind of interaction. Another encouragement that Lake Ann Camp encourages their campers to do is to get an adult mentor involved. One who reinforces the teachings of the parents.
- Oxygen is required – being in the Word on your own is an important part of growth and that is why Lake Ann Camp has a devotional app. Junior campers receive a quarterly Keys for Kids devotional and our older campers were given a reminder to go to the app store and download the Lake Ann Camp app. On that app is a daily devotional that is age specific. Through these means, campers can open the door for God’s Spirit to work in their lives.
- Light the fire – at Lake Ann Camp we are pretty strong on the idea that God begins to work in the hearts of our campers through the preaching or declaring of Biblical truth. Back home this could be in church, kid’s clubs or youth group. At camp, they are encouraged to sit in the front row of church and take notes. This only enhances their ability to hear, learn and apply God’s Word to their lives.