In 2008, Search Institute, a forerunner in understanding and researching the faith development of youth, produced a document titled "With Their Own Voices: A Global Exploration of How Today's Young People Experience and Think About Spiritual Development." In Finding #9, the researchers asked: "How much does each of the following make it easier or harder for you to find meaning, peace and joy?" The answers might surprise you.
"...at least three-fourths [75%] of young people in the survey pointed to being outside in nature, listening to music, serving others, and being alone as being experiences that make it easier for them to be spiritual..." The actual wording the youth were able to respond to was:
Spending time outside or in nature
Listening to or playing music
Spending time helping other people or the community
Being alone in a quiet place (a.k.a. solo)
These top answers ARE camp. This IS who we are. And Christian camps have been providing this for a century. When you send your young people to camp you give them the opportunity to develop spiritually. But are all camps created equal? Do all camps allow spaces for contemplation? Do they create SAFE places of conversation?
More than 65% also responded that the influence of parents, then friends and other family members also make it "somewhat easier" for them to find meaning, joy and peace. So how does your camp help to create environments that enhance the relationships in these areas? If we relate this specifically to the Christian faith, a young person being committed to trusting & following Jesus, is it rather critical that families make use of camps and/or the camping environment where community can take place?
It looks like camp can become a family's greatest ally in supporting their efforts to instill faith & spirituality in their children.