Let’s imagine a story about a student named Annie who’s 16 years old in a church (let’s call it FBC-Here) with about 80 people, some kids and 2-3 other students in high school. She went to Camp Whoknowswhere for a few summers as a child and loved the experience. As she’s growing in her faith, she’s exploring how she could serve God. Her church, always looking for personnel help, encourages Annie to be a leader in their children’s ministry. While she has the desire, she’s not very confident about her leadership capabilities. As a small church, they want to support Annie as best as they can, but don’t have a lot of resources to do so. At the same time, Camp Whoknowswhere is looking for volunteers to be cabin leaders after attending their leaders-in-training program, a well-crafted two-week experience that gives a solid foundation in leadership development.

One day, the pastor at FBC-Here and the director of Camp Whoknowswhere are having coffee, both lamenting the problems they have. All of a sudden (call it a Spirit-led moment), they realize perhaps they could support each other. Annie is encouraged by the pastor to go to Camp Whoknowswhere, take the LIT training (which the CE board is willing to subsidize), and be a cabin leader for the summer. To show the church’s support, they “commission” her in her summer “mission”. At the same time, Camp Whoknowswhere works with Annie during the summer to sharpen her leadership skills. They see her blossom and really own the ministry God has placed before her. But they also recognize that camp isn’t the end goal. The director intentionally shapes the experience so that Annie is able to use the skills and lessons learned back in her local church context. When she returns in the fall, she’s been well equipped to help her church’s children’s ministry move forward.

Over the last few months, it’s been well documented how camping benefits children and youth in their faith development (such as the Hemorrhaging Faith report outlining how impactful camp experiences were to the sustainability of faith in youth or the article in ourkids.net summarizing the educational benefits of camping). But the benefits don’t stop there. Churches and camps, when working together, create a synergy in faith sustainability that is exponentially impactful for the glory of God.
Perhaps the next question is: What step will you take to solidify that bridge between the two?