With summer upon us, many children and youth across our state are looking forward to a break from school, family vacations and fun with friends. The arrival of summer also means that many middle and high school students are making plans to attend one of the state convention’s annual summer youth week camps at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell, which is located at Oak Island on the North Carolina coast.
Summer youth weeks are more than just a week at the beach having fun in the sun, although that is a part of it. These weeks are intentionally designed to be spiritually engaging, enriching and encouraging for the campers. Attendees will be challenged from God’s Word through worship services, powerful proclaimers, small group and personal devotions, missions experiences and more.
The theme of youth weeks this year is “On This Rock” based on Matthew 16:18-19 where Jesus says, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church….” Campers will explore the foundations of the church.
We anticipate more than 6,600 campers representing more than 270 churches to attend one of our eight weeks of camp this summer. I invite you to join me in praying for these students, as well as the staff, chaperones, preachers and other leaders who will be attending each week.
Each year, students make decisions for Christ at camp that not only impact their eternal destiny, but also change the trajectory of their lives. In 2018, more than 360 people trusted Christ as Savior, nearly 900 rededicated their lives to Him and 15 others surrendered their lives to vocational ministry. I rejoice when I hear these reports and give God all glory, honor and praise for what He is doing in the lives of students across North Carolina.
While these numbers don’t begin to tell the story of all that God is doing, they do point to the significance that Christian camps can play in the lives of youth. A 2018 study by LifeWay Research on predictors of spiritual health in young adults reported that 44 percent of Protestant churchgoing parents of 18-30-year-olds sent their kids to church camps and retreats when they were growing up.
I’m thankful for Merrie Johnson, who serves as the state convention’s senior consultant for youth evangelism and discipleship, and the work of her team for all the prayer, planning and preparation that goes into cultivating an environment at summer youth weeks that allows the campers to hear and respond to the voice and call of God.
To learn more about summer youth weeks, visit the youth evangelism and discipleship ministry’s website at bedotell.com.
“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come,…” Ecclesiastes 12:1 (NKJV)