While a week of camp in the summer cannot replace the need for faithful service to the Lord on a year-round basis, there is ample proof that the camp experience can certainly help to change the direction of a young person’s life. It is this change of direction that can help a child to come home to the local congregation and work in the Lord’s kingdom with greater faith. What brings this greater faith? The same thing that has always brought greater faith – hearing and obeying the word of God.
A friend, Bro. Ed Smith said that including Bible classes, devotionals, singing classes and evening worship services, a child will have more Bible study in one week of camp than in an entire year of Sunday morning Bible classes. It is not surprising that there’s noticeable growth in faith after a week at camp. “Faith” still comes by “hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). Bro. Ed Smith encouraged his own grandson to attend camp for several years and saw him experience great spiritual growth. Ask bro. Smith if he still believes that camp will help a child grow in faith. You will hear his answer with a resounding, “Yes!”
Another powerful aspect of camp involvement is the friends which are made and often kept for a lifetime. Christian associations, which are higher in concentration than normal at camp, can cause a child to see the hope and joy of someday living with such friends throughout eternity. It is this great hope that helps to drive all of us who seek heaven.
A man once told me he did not believe in sending a child to camp for one week in the summer because it was “…not the real world, and a child must live in the real world the rest of the year…”. I strongly disagree! In truth, this “real world” of which he spoke will only last a single lifetime but heaven will last forever. Because of the many spiritual blessings found at camp, it is more like heaven than what this man called “the real world”. Of course, heaven will not have the extreme heat, red bugs, and misquotes but it will have some of the same wonderful spiritual blessings, Christian friends and more.
One young man attending I.C.Y.C. (a wonderful camp near Jasper, AL) found no joy in the camp activities on his first day there. He just wanted to go home. A faithful Christian couple, who were counselors, took interest in him and encouraged him in every way they could. By Wednesday he loved camp, and on Thursday he was baptized into Christ. Within minutes after he arrived home on Friday he was struck by lightning and lost his life, but his soul lives on. Can camp make a difference? Oh yes!
I have seen young people who had little or no faith come away from camp with the beginnings of faith. I have seen young people of faith come away with more faith. I have seen young people who had no Christian friends come away with at least one, and often many, Christian friends. I have seen kids who were angry and rebellious come away with a different view. I have seen adult leaders come away equally blessed. I have seen many young men come away from camp with a desire to become ministers of the Gospel. In the end, the difference that is made comes from God’s Word turned into faith.
“So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” – Romans 10:17
–John L. Rice