By Lamar Simms
Summer camp is one of the most needed opportunities for our youth! As I think about the importance of camp, several things come to mind, but these two areas stick out the most;
Environment. One of the most important things about camp is the environment. Our youth have the opportunity to not only get out of the city for a week, but they are in an environment that is so care-free that it causes them to rest and slow down enough to not only hear the gospel but experience it.
Freedom. At camp youth are more receptive to talking about their relationship with God because they don’t feel a need to be defensive. They don’t feel the pressure to always perform or meet an expectation, they are free to just be themselves. When a youth feels safe, they become open to receiving the gifts that God offers us through faith in Christ. The gift of salvation. The gift of community. The gift of His Word. The environment that camp provides makes conversations and life changing moments rise to the surface quicker. What you can do as a leader in months in the city, can be done in days at camp.
A favorite memory from camp that I think about often happened a few years ago. Everyone was laying down, there were no cell phones or electronics to distract them until they fell asleep, so we just talked until we were all knocked out. The conversation started off with a bunch of jokes and as the night went on the conversation became more and more vulnerable. I laid there listening to the youth pour out their hearts about what they have been through and how grateful they are to be where they are today. That night I had never felt closer and connected to my students. It was beautiful and the highlight of my entire trip that year!
It’s been three years since I’ve taken youth to camp. Two years because of the pandemic and one year because I tore my achilles. I’m super excited about going back to camp this summer and believe this group of youth that I’ve been walking with all year could have the biggest impact from camp that I’ve seen since I’ve been here on staff. As their leader I can’t wait to sit and watch the power of God’s love build up their faith in a way that will impact the way they live their life, forever!
Would you help our youth experience these life-changing moments from camp by giving to our Sponsor a Camper fund? We will be taking 20 high school students and 40 middle school students to camp this year. The cost for high school is $700 per student and the cost for middle school is $400 per student which covers all costs per camper for both trips. To make a gift, visit our online giving page and choose the Sponsor a Camper designation or send a check to 500 E 61st St, Chicago IL 60637.