My life is different because of church camp. I gave my life to Jesus in 1974 at Central Oak Heights in West Milton, PA. It was in so many ways the beginning of a journey for me. Years later, I was a new pastor at Annual Conference for the first time at Messiah College. I happened to stroll by the exhibit tables one morning and I saw one for church camp. I hadn’t been involved in church camp since I counseled one summer after my senior year of high school. There was a guy manning the table who asked if I was interested in being involved in the camping program once again. I started directing my own camp soon after that. That guy would, in time, become one of my best friends. Through that friendship and through church camp I have been a part of so many other friendships and relationships. One week can change a life.
One week can change a life, especially when the focus of that one week is Jesus Christ. Camp is one of the most effective ways of introducing young people to Christ. Let me be clear – our goal is not just to get kids to camp. Our goal is to help young people become followers of Jesus. But we feel pretty good about what can happen once kids experience camp.
As I write this I look forward to Camp Promotion this Sunday. We have been so blessed as a church to send many kids to camp and so many adults to go as counselors and staff. We will be promoting camping at Wesley Forest, which is where most of us attend camp. We will also be promoting Young Life Camp. We will hear testimonies from youth and adults whose lives have been changed by God at these camps. It’s going to be good.
It’s so hard for the church to reach young people these days. It really is. But kids still want to go to camp. If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of a kid, encourage them to go to camp this summer. Pray for them. Give to support the cost of kids going to camp. Our church pays half the way for our kids to go to our Methodist Camps. This past year we gave almost $6,000 in camp scholarships and additional $1,000 to Young Life for their ministry. Every dollar is worth it. Why wouldn’t we support what God is doing among our young people?
I am so thankful that I met my friend Jay at that camping table many years ago. Through him I made so many other great friends and I get to watch what God has done with so many other friendships among our kids and adults. I watch it happen and smile and think back to that “chance meeting”, as we say in Middle Earth, when I was invited to come back to church camp.
Let’s meet together in worship this Sunday and see what God might do.
Rich Morris, pastor