Summer camps. When my children were growing up, we sent them to a number of summer camps. As a pastor, they of course attended Christian summer camps. But they also attended pole vaulting camp, volleyball camp, dance camp, and basketball camp. Every year I tried to find an Understanding-My-Daughter camp for dads, but alas, there was none. Today, the choices kids and parents have of summer camp options is insane. If there’s a specific niche interest, there’s a camp for it; everything from knitting camp to bug camp.
What sets them apart? The most obvious answer is the focus. Is it science-related? Computer? Space? Sports? Christian? Since this is a blog about Christian summer camping, let’s go with Christian. What set’s Christian camps apart? Location is big: mountains, beaches, foothills. Activities are significantly different among camps. Don Lee, one of our sister camps is known for its sailing program. Chestnut Ridge, our other sister camp, is known for horseback riding and farming. Traditions, staff, and facilities are also huge distinguishing factors among Christian camps.
This past spring, I was chatting with a camping expert who pointed out that part of the advertisement of many sports camps is their guarantee. Basketball camps guarantee all campers will improve their dribbling or shooting skills. Volleyball camps guarantee an improvement in the participant’s serve or spike. Football campers teach campers to tackle better. You get the point. He then posed the question, “What does your camp guarantee?” It was a great question and one that put us on the road to Rockfish’s 5-C Guarantee (which I’ll tackle in an upcoming blog).
Despite the multiple differences among Christian camps, THE great equalizer is not what campers get when they come, but what they take home. It’s not the differences campers will experience during the week, but the difference in the camper when they leave. Of course, as I noted in my previous blog, the hope and prayer of every Christian camp is that every camper will either start or move closer in their walk with Jesus Christ. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that probably the greatest thrill as a camp director and minister is to see someone walk into the loving arms of Christ for the first time; to watch joy radiate across their faces and tears fall down their cheeks as they experience God’s amazing grace. Almost as equally exciting for me is to hear campers share how they’ve moved closer and deeper in their walk with Christ, possibly understanding and experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit for the first time.
However, over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate and thank God that though we may not have been able to help someone walk through the door into a saving knowledge of Christ, we were privileged to play a part in simply moving a camper one step closer to eventually surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.
If a dynamic, living, and growing relationship with God through Christ is the ultimate take away from summer camp, how do we take the massive topic of the love and grace of God and focus it into something that can be shared, understood, and experienced in five to six days. As the old gospel song says, if the sky were parchment and the oceans ink, there wouldn’t be enough of either to write all the glorious truths about who Christ is.
The answer for us at Rockfish is the summer theme. The theme helps us hone in on one glorious aspect of what it means to be in a life-giving relationship with Christ. Two years ago, we talked about what it meant to Live Out Loud in Christ. What did Jesus have in mind when he said that he came to give LIFE and give it abundantly. (John 10:10). Our 2017 theme was Build On the Rock. Anything other than Christ on which we may try to build our lives, regardless of how shiny and popular, is nothing but sinking sand. Real life is built only on Christ. This year, as we continue to see lives—young and old—struggling to live into the life Jesus promised, we’ve decided to face those struggles, those obstacles, those giants head on. This year’s theme is FEARLESS! How does Jesus help us defeat the giants in our lives and live fearlessly.
The foundation of this year’s theme is Louie Giglio’s book, “Goliath Must Fall.” The book focuses on the story of David and Goliath and the need for Christians to face and defeat the giants in their lives through the empowering presence and strength of Jesus Christ. Out theme verse for the summer is 1 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.”
Our goal this summer is that every camper God sends our way will, as a part of their new or growing relationship with Christ, be able to acknowledge their giants, whether it be fear, rejection, comfort, or whatever limits their lives, and live fearlessly for the Kingdom of God.
Pray for us as we continue to apply our Fearless theme to everything we do at camp this summer. Pray that our year-round and summer staff come to camp this summer already fearlessly living for Christ. Pray that every camper who needs to be radically and eternally changed with the gospel of Christ will find his/her way to Camp Rockfish.