Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Christian Camp: Where Leaders Emerge

By Gregg Hunter | President/CEO of Christian Camp and Conference Association | August 13 2013
Originally posted on YouthWorker, www.youthworker.com/youth-camps-missions/11697137/ 

When I meet with leaders around the country and we begin discussing camp, many share with me their own camp stories. Sometimes it's about the fun they had at camp or the fact they began their relationships with Jesus there. They may have been counselors or worked on summer staff in a variety of positions. I hear stories of the transformation that occurred in their lives as they led others in this unusual and wonderful setting.
Each week this summer, tens of thousands of campers flooded Christian Camp and Conference Association member camps. More than 6.5 million people attend a member camp each year. In that sea of people will be found the youth workers, children's ministry pastors and senior pastors of the future.
I know of no other ministry opportunity that provides such a wealth of opportunities for young people to discover their callings, learn key leadership and servanthood principles and put these things to work by immersing themselves in the lives of those they serve.
It's why Christian camping long has been considered an outstanding leadership development training ground in addition to its unparalleled success in delivering life-changing impact to campers.
Where else do students get such concentrated time and exposure to leadership opportunities as when they spend a week, month or summer leading campers in exploring God, His creation and their futures? In pristine settings, usually touted as "one of the most beautiful places on earth," young people receive practical instruction about how to lead effectively and are given opportunities for immediate application.
As campers and young leaders move into temporary communities provided at camps, the normal distractions of life fade away so they are able to focus on God and the work He is doing in their lives, as well as the lives of those they lead. Where else does this happen in a plugged-in generation, where the average young person spends nearly eight hours a day connected to a variety of electronic media?
Those in Christian camp roles have been describing the ministry lately as a mighty, global movement of God. In fact, we believe it is a key component in the health and growth of the church in the coming decade and beyond. That's because we see how the church in America is struggling: shrinking church attendance, lack of engagement of the younger generation, a distrust--or disdain—for Christ followers in the larger population. Repeatedly, camp proves to be a consistent and fruitful tool for introducing young people and adults to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith.
When people experience something as powerful as an encounter with God that changes their lives, they often can't wait to participate in sharing this power, this love, with others in a similar way. It's why so many who meet Jesus at camp return as counselors or staff in subsequent years, some for an entire career.
The ministry of Christian camp is alive and well today, but it is also time-tested. Throughout Scripture we see that when God was ready to do something big, He often took a leader into the wilderness—to camp, if you will. Moses, David, Paul and Jesus all spent important time alone with God in the wilderness just before beginning the ministry God had prepared for them. It was during that time they experienced His presence, worshipped Him, learned from Him and had their faith tested.
Each of these types of encounters with God still happen today as His followers experience Christian camp, from their first time stepping onto a camp property, to the birthing of their relationships with Christ, to serving campers as volunteer or staff members. Young leaders hear from God as they are surrounded by His beauty and grandeur in a setting that allows them to connect with Him and process His plan for their lives.
Test this for yourself. As you get to know young leaders who are interested in making a difference in the lives of other young people, ask if they've ever been to camp. You may find (or already may know) many had a life-changing experience that began or grew their faith at camp.
Then, if you're not currently plugging youth into some kind of service at camp, consider finding a camp ministry near you with which to develop an ongoing relationship. In sending your students with leadership potential to camp, you may find you have helped plant seeds in their lives that will bear fruit in others for generations to come.
Gregg Hunter is the president/CEO of Christian Camp and Conference Association. CCCA is an association of about 840 Christian camps and conference centers in the United States. Since 1963, CCCA's goal has been to maximize ministry for each member, as well as for job seekers, parents and church leaders. For more information about CCCA, go to CCCA.org or to ThePowerOfCamp.comwww.Twitter.com/GreggAHunter.

No comments:

Post a Comment