Parents often get the raw deal from kids camps. We pay for the camp. We drive or carpool to get our children there and back again. We pack and make sure they take not only snacks, but also a sleeping bag and change of clothes, which usually comes home still neatly folded at the bottom of the bag. We pick-up tired children after camp, who apparently had the time of their lives but cannot seem to remember anything specific to share about it!
In all this hustle and bustle it can be hard to see the value of sending your children to camp. So why do it?
It’s a big step forward in independence and confidence
While leaders and organisers take every precaution to make camps safe for everyone involved, to a child it is still a step outside the familiarity of home with their usual circle of support. For example, there might be some nerves or anxiety before the event about going to sleep without mum or dad there to tuck them in.
Alternatively, the worry might all be on the parent’s side, with a child expressing just a little too much enthusiasm for being released from the boundaries of home!
Camps, like Youthworks Square 1 for Years 3 - 6, provide the opportunity for friendships with peers to be strengthened as time is spent together over meals and shared activities. Bonds are forged by newly discovered similarities, and shared experiences have ongoing relational value: ‘Remember when we went down the waterslide and you crashed into me!’, ‘Remember when we slipped in the mud and then we painted our faces with it?!’. Also, learning to become a good friend is a life lesson we all want our children to know, and camps are an ideal place for that to happen.
I’ll hear about it one day
Although we might not hear about the fantastic activities or see the personal or spiritual growth in our children in the days or weeks after the camp, these experiences have a lasting impact on our children. Going to camp means there is more potential for them to see the relevance of the gospel to their lives. Therefore, perhaps when my children have grown up, I will get to hear about how at a certain camp helped them to personally understand the enormity of God’s grace or the importance of Jesus’ death.
Camps were important to my spiritual growth
Our Heavenly Father uses all kinds of situations to draw people to himself. For me, one of those really important turning points in my life was at a kids camp. I’d been to school camps before, which were lots of fun. But at this camp, I saw God’s love amongst his people and I was convicted of my need for Him as there is life nowhere else but in Jesus.
Amidst the cost, the tiredness, the time and effort of driving and all the washing afterwards, I keep sending my children to camp, and I encourage you to as well. Our frustrations will soon be forgotten but the memories, life lessons and, we pray, the spiritual growth in our children will last a lifetime.