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.
Churches and schools benefit from Group enrollment in several ways. Here are two:
Students coming with church leaders as a group for a week of camp have the enhanced opportunity to bond and experience faith as a community that is very deep and memorable.
Students and leaders enrolled as a group return to their schools and churches with a faith strengthening experience. This is good for children, youth and families as they build their community.
To help encourage group enrollment, Camp Concordia board of directors has created a discount for 6 or more students enrolled in the same week-long camp with leaders participating through service. You can read about it here.
Enrolling groups is encouraged at Camp Concordia for two reasons:
Group enrollment is an opportunity for groups of students to enhance their bonding and have a more "hands on" sense of a shared faith community.
Group enrollment sends students back to school TOGETHER. Having had a shard experience, they are more likely to grow up in supportive relationships with each other. This is beneficial for church youth groups, classroom groups and family groups.
In 2017 Camp Concordia was surprised by the number of enrollments which came in in December and January. well gang, we are ahead of 2017 at this point. While we have worked to open up additional beds, we definitely see a tend already. Enrollment 2018 is underway!
I just got off the phone with a climbing tower company. Pray that we can use the Camp Concordia resources wisely and that if God would like this as an activity to advance our kids' faiths, then He can make this happen for 2018. Or at least something as cool!!