How camp can be key to a child’s growth and discipleship

December 2, 2018

Camp can be a significant life-changing event for children. Camp is a spiritual investment unlike anything most kids experience at home. Attending camp allows students to retreat from the norm of life, limit distractions and focus on truth.

I serve as the children’s program director at Camp Caraway near Asheboro, N.C., and much of our ministry emphasizes experiential learning.  As my first boss taught me on a farm at age 14, “You learn by doing.” We focus on four core values to guide us as we intentionally disciple campers — growing faith in Jesus, developing relationships, learning skills and serving others.  

At Caraway, everything is about the gospel of Jesus Christ. During a week of camp, students see, hear, and experience the gospel continuously through worship, teaching, personal quiet times, interactions with staff or chaperone, and being in God’s creation.  We never pressure or coerce students to trust Jesus, but we strive to make the gospel message simple to understand.

Just as Jesus’ ministry was based around relationships, camp is all about relationships, too. No matter the quality of the camp facility, the food, the music or the activities, relationships between campers, staff and chaperones trump everything else. God uses people, and we are focused on connecting people (especially campers) with Christian mentors who love Jesus and live out that love daily while going about their normal, everyday life.

Author John Eldridge wrote, “There is a humility and a seasoned wisdom to be learned in the natural world.”  Much of our camp programing is done outside with people.

At camp, kids will learn that if you lean too far in a kayak, it will tip. If you rub your hand along a grain of wood, it will splinter. They will work through homesickness and there may conflict with other campers.

All of these experiences provide teachable moments and memories that allow campers to grow, even after they return home. At camp, they can experience things in a safe environment where staff members or chaperones encourage growth and spiritual formation as they work through different experiences. When truth is reinforced through life experiences, students are more likely to remember.  

One recent example of how God uses camp is of a boy who attended camp with the children’s group from his church. He had been introduced to Jesus and truth at an early age through home discipleship and church ministry. While kayaking on a lake during summer camp, he was able to be alone with his thoughts as he reflected on his life at the foot of a cross that stands along the lakeshore.

The Holy Spirit had been speaking to him, and in that moment in a kayak on a lake at camp near the cross on the bank, he said yes to Jesus. When he returned from boating, there were staff and chaperones that welcomed the news and began to encourage and support him. This boy didn’t come to faith in Jesus just because of camp. He came to faith in Jesus through God’s divine plan using his family, church, other relationships, life experiences and camp.

At camp we use fun to create an environment like no other to partner with churches in accomplishing their mission of making disciples. Let’s serve God faithfully and see what God can do through us, through church ministry and through camp.


by Mark Moore  
/  Children’s Program Director  /  Camp Caraway

How to create a comprehensive disciple-making strategy for your church

As summer arrives in full force, it may be difficult to think about fall ministries. Planning, recruitment, schedules and programming lie ahead, but have you ever asked the question, “What if our preschool, children’s, youth and adult ministries were viewed as layers in one...

11 fun ideas to serve children (and families) this summer

One area of concern school teachers have noticed about children returning to school after months of virtual schooling is the delay or regression of social skills. Time away from in-person interaction has caused a lag in the social and emotional development of many children. With...

20 ways to make the gospel a priority during VBS

Vacation Bible School (VBS) leaders and teachers are afforded a frontline opportunity to disciple and evangelize children attending their church’s VBS. Working intentionally and strategically to present the gospel to children who may be ready for this step of faith is crucial....

When the kids come back: Navigating new challenges in your children’s ministry

Your church has decided to reopen its children’s ministry for Sunday mornings. With excitement, you dust off curriculum packs and plan for a grand welcome back. Children who have been learning virtually and in person on a limited basis walk in the door and you expect a return to...

12 ways to involve every church member in VBS

Often churches consider Vacation Bible School (VBS) to be exclusively a children’s ministry event. And yet, VBS is one of the most effective evangelistic emphases many churches offer their community each year. According to "It’s Worth It" by Landry Holmes of Lifeway Publishing,...

Students: An untapped resource for serving in your church

I’ve heard it said that students are the church of tomorrow, but I really struggle with that — I believe students are the church of today and the future church leaders of tomorrow. Students need adults who love Jesus, love them and take the time to disciple them. They need...

A gospel-centered classroom

There seems to be a different curriculum for every church’s children ministry. Curriculums can vary based on the church’s values, mission and needs, but it’s hard to disagree that in any theologically based church the main theme that ties all curriculums together is the gospel. So...

5 ways to guard against child abuse in your church

We may tend to think sexual abuse cannot happen in our church, but it is that very mentality that makes it possible. How do abusers manage to have access to children and teens in our churches? This process often begins with intentional “grooming” of children and their parents. In...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!