By Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist and Superintendent
Our Desert Southwest Conference Camp & Retreat Ministries team is hard at work preparing for a great summer at Mingus Mountain and Potosi Pines. Last year’s summer camps were cancelled due to the pandemic, but they are back in full force this year for elementary, middle school, and high school youth.
A week at Camp is an opportunity to experience the beauty of God’s creation and the joy of living in Christian community from first light until the end of campfire each day. Hikes, crafts, games, rope courses, team building activities, inspirational messages, singing, worship – each day is focused on God, on making friends, and on serving together.
In my experience, summer camps and mission trips are foundational experiences for youth ministry. Youth fellowship each Sunday is important and fun but being together for days at a time helps break down walls and deepen friendships and bring groups closer together in ways that can’t happen during the rest of the year.
Young people experience God in real and meaningful ways at camp. After all, throughout the Bible people frequently encounter the sacred on mountaintops.
In Genesis 8, God caused the flood waters to recede and set Noah’s ark to rest on a mountaintop. On a mountaintop in Genesis 22, the Lord mercifully stayed the hand of Abraham before he sacrificed his own son to God. Moses encountered the burning bush on a mountaintop in Exodus 3. God shared the Ten Commandments with Moses on a mountaintop (Exodus 19); centuries later, God spoke to the prophet Elijah on the same mountain (1 Kings 19). Jesus gives his most well-known sermon on a mountaintop (Matthew 5-7).
I speak from my own experience. In the light of the sun and in the presence of the stars at summer camp, I experienced the powerful embrace of God’s amazing grace in a way that made me want to be a witness to the light and love of Jesus Christ.
Is your church supporting summer camp this year? Are you inviting the kids at your church to participate? Are you getting the word out by publicizing our summer camps? Have you considered volunteering at camp?
Your support of our summer camping program is an important part of giving kids the opportunity to experience the sacred in Christian community at summer camp this year.
Thanks for listening –