Here at our Christian Retreats Network properties, we see every day how camp can change lives.
I would like to share a few stories of previous campers and how their lives have changed since they went to camp.
- In 2009, Chelsea was not happy with her life. She was dealing with depression and issues from a broken home. She believed there was no future for her. That next summer she decided to go to youth camp. While there, she made a commitment to Christ. She got baptized in the river, and at the closing session on the last morning, she shared how God began to heal her heart. Now, seven years later, she has gotten married and graduated from nursing school. What she once thought as a nonexistent future, is now a promising life in the Lord.
- There are some people that get angry when you talk to them about Christ. John was one of them. He was a 16 year old boy, who was just plain angry at the world. With a little persuasion, he headed off to youth camp in 1985. God began to speak to him at services and through his new friends. Suddenly, he wasn’t so angry anymore. His senior year of school he started a Bible study. The next fall he headed off to Bible school, where he met his future wife. John is now a pastor at a large church in Little Rock. He went from being angry at the world, to doing good in it.
- Jordan was a kid with special needs, who stayed at home all the time, didn’t go out and had never been to camp. That is, until his junior year. Before camp, Jordan had always been afraid of God and felt that his mental and physical situation was some sort of punishment. That week at camp taught him differently. He discovered that God had a plan for him. This was learned, in part, by facing one of his other fears: heights. He managed to complete the rock climbing adventure that took him higher than he imaged, but all the more strong when he came down. That week he experienced healing in his heart that carried over to healing in relationships with his family. The last day of camp, he decided to be baptized in the river, and is now a completely different man. He graduated from high school, and is now a husband and a father, something he never imagined possible.
- Seth was raised in the church. He knew about God. But his junior year, he was involved in a tragic car accident that left him shaken. The next summer he headed off to youth camp, where he felt God’s presence. He left camp knowing that he had been spared for a reason. Now, Seth is a police officer in Chicago, protecting others and living a life of the Lord. His favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV.
We know that not everyone is going to make a complete 180 at camp. But we also know that camp is the place where youth can find and learn about the Lord. This is where they may decide to become a pastor, start a bible study to teach others what they have learned, or simply bring Christ into their everyday life. Encourage your kids to discuss their experience when they get back. You never know how God might have affected them.