After another successful summer of Day Camp, the Knox Camps Leadership Team lets us in on what camp means to them.
I have been a “camp person” for a number of years, having served at multiple different camp settings in a variety of capacities. I have such a passion for the way that God uses camp in the lives of kids (and leaders) – to teach them about the people He created them to be, to speak to them of His enduring love, and to create meaningful, lasting friendships. I truly believe that lives are transformed at camp.
My absolute favourite thing about camp is the way that campers and leaders alike experience grace so tangibly. Camp is a place where everyone is invited to be themselves, and where everyone is reminded that God designed and loves them just as they are. Camp is a place where confidence grows, as campers realize that they are in a safe place to explore who they are and who Jesus is. There is a freedom to try new things without the fear of failing or being judged, and also a freedom to be a little bit goofy sometimes! (Okay, most of the time….!) I never took my parents up on the opportunity to go to camp as a child, but as a camp staff member over the years, I have taken more risks than I ever thought possible, and have learned so much about the person God has made me to be in the process.
I also am just so encouraged by watching camp leaders interact with campers in the loving way that they do. Grace is so evident in the selfless way that leaders put the needs of their campers’ before their own, and in the way that campers are forgiven when they make mistakes and welcomed back into the camp community so readily. I’ve encountered Jesus more tangibly in these moments than anywhere else, and it is exciting to me that camp presents so many opportunities for this to happen.
There is nowhere that I have laughed harder, danced crazier or sang louder than at camp.
I have been attending camp as a camper and leader in various capacities for over 10 years. It is safe to say that camp is my “home away from home”. In a community like Knox Camps, campers and leaders alike are accepted as they are, spiritually fed and nurtured, supported in their unique learning experiences, create lifelong friendships, and experience God in a tangible way. That way is seeing God’s neverending love reciprocated through camper-leader relationships. Some of my most important periods of growth as a person have happened at summer camp, through mindful teaching of scripture and intentional mentorship from leaders. From these personal experiences, I have come to know Jesus better than I ever could have imagined.
I often get parents and guardians asking me, what makes camp so special? How is summer camp different from school or sports teams? Again I find myself resting on the fact that the relationships formed at camp last a lifetime. The selfless and consistent support given from leaders to campers exemplifies the eternal love of Jesus Christ, which is given without expectation of reward or notice. A smile, hug or high five from your precious little one means more than the riches of this world to us.
Each staff member plays an integral role in our diverse community of Christ followers, as do the campers we serve. God knows us all by name and has planned the good works we will produce together at Knox this summer. He has brought us together with the purpose of loving on your little ones and doing it with joy in our hearts.
When I was thinking about what I love about camp it was so hard to pick something that would fit in this short article. I think the reason I feel called to work at camp year after year is because of the unique way that camp is a place just for kids. We live in a world designed for adults and I love that here, children have the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment designed especially for them. One of my favourite parts of camp is watching the relationships that develop between campers. I love watching an older camper help a younger camper tie their shoes or see campers cheering on their friends during a wide game.
Camp allows children to come out of their shells and we always encourage them to be themselves. This summer is going to be amazing and I am pumped for all the good things God has planned for the Knox community. Camp is all about showing kids God’s love and letting them know how valued and special they are in His eyes. I feel so blessed that I get to be apart of the amazing works that are taking place here.
When I became a first-time leader last year, I was not anticipating the life-changing experience that would follow. Nothing could have prepared me for the tangible love and self-discovery that are such prominent features of camp. For leaders and youth alike, it is a place where each person is an essential unit to a greater whole, a place where everyone has needs and is needed. Each staff member and camper brings a unique element to the camp dynamic, and their contribution– that is, simply being there and being themselves– is genuinely appreciated.
We are all precious children of God, designed with the utmost care and attention to detail, but the world often sends a different message. Children and adults alike are told that they are too much, or not enough, or should just be a different way than they are. Here at camp, we disagree. Our leaders understand that someone’s identity is not based in their gender, skin colour, style of dress, academic performance, athleticism, body shape, or any other characteristic that the world claims as being important. Rather, a person’s identity is wholly nestled in one beautiful truth: they are loved infinitely and incomprehensibly by Jesus exactly as they are. What does this mean for the youth and leaders at camp?
It means that everyone has the opportunity to dive deep into who they are, knowing that when they resurface with whatever treasures they have found at the bottom they will be welcomed with joy and encouragement. Camp is like an ocean of self-discovery, and the message is clear:
Take the plunge; the water is warm.