The Bishop’s E-pistle: Church Camp

I had the joy of heading up to Chapel Rock on Sunday afternoon to be present for the first night of Children’s Camp.

I’ve experienced a variety of approaches towards “church camp” in my life. I would say that most of them have been “church CAMP.” It was a fun camp experience that had a discrete nod towards God–perhaps a priest around as a chaplain, perhaps saying grace before meals, maybe even a closing prayer service at the end of the week. You could say that the love of God was embodied in the welcome and inclusion of people of all faiths in the camp experience, but it wasn’t an experience in which young people were formed as followers of Jesus.

And I’ve also experienced what might be called “CHURCH camp,” which was more like a retreat, and focused almost exclusively on faith, to the exclusion of fun and adventure.

I was so pleased to see that Children’s Camp was CHURCH CAMP. Our summer camps at Chapel Rock are clearly excellent, well-planned experiences of Christian Formation for both children and youth. This year’s theme is “Path to Peace.” Through skits and activities, the staff led the campers through daily themes like “Aloha,” “Ubuntu,” and “Shalom.” It was prayerful, faithful, and you could trace elements of the teachings to our Book of Common Prayer and the Bible.

And it didn’t skimp on the fun. Funny hats, hilarious depictions of rules, active games, piles of kids laughing and being silly, all in a loving and supportive environment. My favorite rule: for every put-down, you do two put-ups. The counselors were amazing and full of passion, as were the adult leaders from around the diocese who gathered together to oversee the program.

If you have young people in your family, send them to camp next year. If you don’t have young people in your immediate family, donate to make it possible for more young people to attend camp next year. Children and young people are not the church of the future, they are the church of the present. But they will lead the church of the future, and it is up to us to give them opportunities to encounter Christ through story, music, and community that they may mature into the full statue of Christ.