With summer quickly approaching most youth ministries are in the midst of planning for camp. As leaders we must be prepared to answer some of the questions that parents raise when discussing the benefits of camp. Worried parents can perceive camp with more drawbacks than benefits. Here are some of the benefits of summer camp that can help persuade a hesitant parent.
Distraction – Free Environments
With 95% of teens have a smartphone or access to one and with 45% of US teens saying they are “almost constantly” online, camp provides the opportunity to remove themselves from the persistent distraction of television, social media and video games allowing students the much needed break to spend time in nature with their friends and leaders. This technology-free environment reminds students they can have fun without being in front of a screen.
Camp often takes place in locations outside of the student’s hometown. Attending camp may be one of the few times a student is outside of their normal routine for extended periods of time. Many summer camps offer activities like horseback riding, laser tag, rope courses and the “blob”. Students can venture outside of their comfort zone to experience new activities in a safe environment and learn what they can achieve.
Every students wants to have friends. Friendships in teens provide benefits including higher functioning immune systems, better self-esteem, lower rates of depression and anxiety, longer life expectancy, strong emotional regulation skills, more empathy and feelings of trust towards other. It is easy to see why teens having friends is important but the type of friends is equally as important. Bonding with students with the same values and beliefs increase the likelihood that students will thrive in their relationship with God.
Relationship with Christ
Church camp, unlike traditional summer camp, is more than just a fun experience. The primary focus is to provide a clear presentation of the Gospel and encourage students to grow in their relationship with Christ. These life altering experiences come through high-energy worship, small groups, messages and new relationships with new friends and leaders. Fresh encounters with God in a distraction-free environment make camp some of the most powerful moments in the life of a student.
Every parent’s desire should be to raise Godly well-rounded students. Reminding parents of these benefits should help them see the advantages of sending their students to summer camp. And a gentle reminder that they would be “student-free” for several days also helps.