If you grew up going to church camp you most likely have some good memories to think back on. Personally, I remember all the fun games that we would play and the crazy competitions we would have throughout the week. It was always a good time to reconnect with people that you haven’t seen over the past year, but there is something else that always sticks out to me about camp… there were always decisions being made! I never went to camp as a teenager looking forward to possible decisions I could make. I went for the food, friends, and games… but it seems that I never left camp without making some type of spiritual decision.
So, that begs the question… Why does camp work? Teens can go to church every Sunday throughout the year and never make any real decisions. If anything, they tend to slowly backslide until the next camp or Youth Conference. So, what’s so special about camp? Why do teens make decisions at camp that they don’t make throughout the rest of the year?
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” – II Corinthians 6:14
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” – II Corinthians 6:17
God wants us to live separated from the world in our daily lives! This doesn’t mean that we should go start our own commune and keep outsiders out. It just means that there should be a clear difference in the life of a saved person compared to that of a lost person! We have eternal life, the Holy Spirit living inside of us, access to God through prayer, and an understanding of Scripture now that we are saved.
Camp provides a good atmosphere for teens to live in for a week. They go to church services, sing godly songs, listen to Spirit-filled preaching, and hang out with other believers (for the most part). It also keeps them away from their friends at school, their cell phone, and worldly music. Camp works because of the godly atmosphere it provides!
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – Proverbs: 27:17
You show me your friends and I will show you your future! God has designed friendship to strengthen you and to help get you where you need to be.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
God doesn’t want you to bear your burdens alone. At camp, there is always someone around that wants to help you with what you are going through. It is often hard to talk about certain things because of how someone might judge you, but at camp, the counselors, youth pastors, and staff are all there for you!
Camp not only provides a godly atmosphere to grow in, but it also supplies plenty of adults to help the teens where they can. The world often encourages our teens to keep their problems to themselves, but at camp, they are encouraged to talk about these problems to help find a solution!
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” – II Timothy 3:16
God’s Word is given to us so that we can fix the areas of our life that need to be fixed. This is the part of camp that really stick out to me! Teens that never get serious about spiritual matters will find themselves at the altar making decisions at camp!
I believe people are convicted about different decisions they need to make on a regular basis, but they never take the next step and make the decision to act on that conviction. They will listen to good preaching and then remain in their pews during invitation time instead of going to the altar to do business with God… but at camp, teens are put in an environment where they have good influences around them and they are encouraged to act on their conviction!
Unfortunately, many of these decisions are reversed within a week after camp is over… why is that? Teens often throw away their decision once they get back with their worldly friends, start listening to the worldly music again, and are no longer in a good atmosphere. The same environment used to make the decision is often the same environment needed to keep the decision.
“Don’t undo a decision in darkness that was made in light.”
Put simply… Camp works because it’s 4-5 days where we do our best to live the way God wants us to live. We are in the right atmosphere, surrounded by like-minded people, and we are encouraged to make a decision to grow closer to God!
The problem is that we often take what the Bible says as a suggestion and pick and choose what to listen to. Then we try to understand why God doesn’t seem to be using us. The difference is… at camp, these suggestions become rules. If we truly desire to grow closer to God, then we need to stop treating the Bible as a book of suggestions and choose to follow God’s word as he desires. Camp works because, for many of us, that’s the closest we get to living how God wants us to live. Let’s strive to apply these same principles to our daily life so that we can have camp-like results the next time God’s speaks to us!