Youth Camp Report
I was raised in a Christian household where my parents taught me about Jesus Christ from as early as I can remember. My mom and dad made the financial commitment to send my brothers and sister and me to a Christian elementary school, and what an impact their decision made on my life. At school, Christian doctrine, morals, and ethics were the foundation of the education process, and our entire education was built upon the Bible. Whether it was art, PE, science, or social studies, all study was centered upon the word of God and the life of Jesus Christ. The environment there shaped my life in a way that has helped me to become who I am today.
Looking back, the most significant part of my entire education from pre-school all the way through college was the teaching from the Bible that occurred there at my Christian school. Every day in grades one through six we had Bible class for at least thirty minutes per day. The Bible was taught as the errorless, divinely inspired word of God, and man’s life on earth was to be centered on it. Lessons always centered on what the Scripture said. We learned about the characters of the Old Testament, the history of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Each week, we would memorize different scripture verses, and our teachers also taught us the catechism, which contains basic biblical doctrine for young and old alike.
Today, I can trace back much of my spiritual knowledge and Christian maturity to grades one through six. As a believer, Christ lives His life through me. Yet, Satan continues to tempt me. I recognize that the evil one does this through a massive campaign of deceit and misinformation, calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). The best way I know to be victorious over Satan is to know just what God says is truth and righteousness. So for me, the battle is easier because of all I learned about the Bible at a young age. What a blessing for me, but this blessing is not reserved only for those who went to a Christian school. To say so would go against God’s love in giving us every-thing we need to live as Christ wherever He has us.
My focus in planning summer camp was to do all I could to give the young people that attended the same blessing of learning scripture. Our ages this past summer ranged from three to eighteen, so we divided the youth as a whole into groups that would reflect how differently each age group learns as well as where they are in life. This resulted in four different groups that were as evenly matched as possible in age and environment. For example, the depth of understanding of someone in fourth grade is quite different to someone in his or her sophomore year in high school, not to mention the difference in his or her environment. With this being done, we camp counselors set out to pick Bible lessons which suited their groups. Each counselor was put in charge of a specific age group that he or she would work with all week…and what a week it was.
With the Scripture as our foundation, we started on a week that would provide as much learning from the Bible as we could fit into seven days. Our local Christian bookstore was a wonderful resource for teaching materials for different age groups. I helped teach the oldest group, comprised of young people in grades nine through twelve. We studied the book of Ecclesiastes. Yes, I said Ecclesiastes. When was the last time anyone picked up their Bible and read from this great book? For me, I had only spent time in it once before, and even then, I did not get very far with it. I found an excellent youth study guide for the book at the Christian bookstore, and I was off and running. I found this somewhat obscure part of Scripture to be so relevant to my age group of young people. In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon laments his life, searching long and hard for meaning in the things of the earth, yet he finds none there. Solomon knows that all of humanity is separated from God by sin, yet man cannot make up for this division. Eventually, Solomon gets back to the fact that there is no meaning outside of God, and his plan for reconciliation is the promised Messiah. God’s will for our lives is to reproduce Himself, His righteousness, and His good works in us.
I was captured by this study from the beginning because it speaks so well to the young people who I was teaching. In fact, I even phoned the author of the study guide to get his insight on some of the material. He was a great source of additional information, and he appreciated the call as much as I appreciated his time and interest.
Junior and senior high school is such a time of questioning life and its meaning and its purpose. It is also a time when young people begin to spread their own wings and believe and stand on their own faith and not that of their parents. This age group is constantly bombarded by evil, sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant. The culture of our society permeates everything they do. Television, music, movies, and, too often, the adults around them teach them that Jesus is not important, it’s ok to break God’s commandments, honesty is not the best policy, sexuality is an acceptable form of self-expression in any fashion, alcohol and drugs are an essential component to teenage living, and man is the center of the universe.
In my time spent with the youth, I have found that they really do want to know what life is all about and what their destiny is. Of course, all of our destiny is meant to be with and in God (Ephesians 2:10). For the non-believer, bringing them to Christ is the next move. For the young believer, I want them to be armed with what God says about these big questions, as well as the small ones. They need to know their scripture where God answers their questions. The older youth at camp were very open and interested in looking to the Bible for answers. We also taught this group how to use their Bibles as a tool for the future. Camp only lasts one week of the year. I want each and every one of them to be able, on their own, to study the Scripture and find God’s will and commandments in its pages. Hopefully, we started them on the path of love for the Bible and desire to hear God talking to them through it.
Next, we mixed in heavy doses of the Bible with lots of fun and activities. The mountains of North Carolina are a wonderful spectacle of God’s grandeur and awesome power. We used it as our playground for a week. Activities included hiking, tubing, swimming, games, campfires, singing, and outdoor theater. We continued this year to include a service project as part of summer camp. God has given us our health and strength, and we have committed this with a servant’s heart to help others who need it. This year, we volunteered to assist a new animal sanctuary in the mountains with cleaning and building new habitats. This group takes in animals of all types that have been injured in the wild. They are nursed back to health, and all those that can be released back into the environment are freed, while those who because of their injury could not make it on their own are kept and fed and loved. The whole youth group got an up-close education in many species and really made a difference to this sanctuary by helping clean and build.
One area that I find so important to camp is the small group discussion time for the older youth. We seriously tackle the issues that many face and fight on a daily basis at school, home, and with friends. It’s this time where the "rubber meets the road" for the youth. Does what we’ve learned in the Scripture really mat-ter? Does God really care about this or that? Underage drinking and drunkenness, drug use, appropriate male/female relationships, sexuality, peer pressure, friends, depression and suicide, goals and hopes and dreams…these are all topics we discussed openly this year. I took great pleasure in seeing these young people open their hearts and minds to seek God’s input in these matters. I know that arming them with the Bible will make them able to speak God’s truth back to these temptations that surround them.
I was rewarded this year by those around me. I was privileged to work with Allison Laffin, Robyn Resset, Kari Mace, Dacia Trethewey, Elliot Coatney, and Jon Langley. These fellow counselors did an excellent job working on camp as a whole and specifically with their designated age groups. These friends of mine make camp possible and fun and so meaningful to the youth that we seek to teach and influence and love. I was also thrilled to see three of our oldest group rise to positions of leadership, working with the counselors to help teach and lead the younger ones. The little ones really do look up to these older youth, and this is a tremendous testimony to them. I also found it very satisfying that these young people were older and more mature in the Spirit and willing and wanting to take on more responsibility. I myself have watched these three grow up from a young age, and I have been personally involved in their lives for years. I was very proud of them and took encouragement in their desire to work with the younger groups.
I cannot end without talking about our newest addition to camp this year-the Carnival. On Thursday, all of camp, young and old alike, were invited to a county fair put on by the youth leaders. All enjoyed games such as the water gun relay, concentration, the guessing game, the dart throw, bobbing for apples, diving for quarters, and the Grand Prize Game (from the old Bozo the Clown show). We even had an airwalk! The highlight, though, was the pie toss. Yours truly was the first in, along with another brave soul, young Fowler Cooper, and we were pummeled for 10 minutes with cream pies to the faces. I must say, most at camp had great aim! When it came time to pick our replacements, that was easy. Fowler and I chose our siblings, Rebecca Jane Cooper and Steven Prewitt. We secretly decided to forgo the chance of missing them on the toss, so we rushed the board and…BAM…cream pie… SMASH…into their face. Soon, many made their way up to the pie board and very few left the game with a clean face. I remember details all too well, and I am already making my plans for revenge next year.
Parents, it does not take a church school education for your children to learn the Bible and be armed with the word of God. And arm them you must if you expect them to have a chance in this world where Satan wages war on our souls every day. Take time to read Bible stories to your children on a very regular basis. Utilize your local Christian book-store or other resources to get materials. Teach them how important it is to know God’s word. Encourage your older children to read their Bible on their own and to ask you questions and tell you what they have learned. Teenagers need to seek God’s will in the Bible and direct their very important decisions back to God. Arm them to "fight the good fight, and win the race set before them."
See you at camp next year!
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 16 No 3
- The Law: Stepping Stone to Man’s Exposure
- To Think About…
- Editor’s Note
- A Look at a Book
- Summer Camp 2000, The Adults
- Tape Talk
- Bible Study: God’s Law
- A Life Transformed
- Zerubbabel Focus: Computers
- Questions & Answers
- Spontaneous Living
- The Laugh of Faith
- Youth Camp Report
- On the Web
- The Christian in the Workplace
- Leadership in Music
- "One Died for All, Therefore All Died"
- God’s Restoration of Man
- Only Men Count
- Intercession In Action
- Faith Produces Deeds…
- Words to Live By…