I had the opportunity to visit our students at youth camp last week. My wife and I showed up on Wednesday. This time, however, I wasn't the youth pastor and I wasn't responsible for anything. It was nice. I also came with the perspective of a parent with two students in our youth ministry.
The location was nice, but what truly struck me was the spirit of the camp, or should I say the Spirit of the camp. I was taken back to my days leading students to camp. Our students attended Global Youth Camp, which is the same camp I led students to for a number of years. Roger Glidewell (the founder of Global) was teaching and immediately I had this sense of deja vu. It was as if it was back in 1998, 1999 or 2000 all over again.
I had forgotten the power of the camp experience.
I used to tell parents of students who were not getting too involved in youth ministry to send their children to camp. I remember why now. Removed from the distractions of everyday life and surrounded by adults and other students seeking an encounter with God is life-changing.
I look around our church and beyond (through Facebook and other means) and see students (who are now adults with kids of their own) who had life-changing experiences with God, their friends and even their family through the youth camp experience. So, once again I urge parents to send your students to camp. It'll be a year before our teenagers go to camp again, but other opportunities are coming up such as mission trips and our D-Now this fall. Don't get so busy and convince yourselves it's just another youth event. These are divine appointments. Don't miss them.