Church Camp

IStock_000007104790Medium Like most kids who have grown up in the Christian faith I spent at least a week of each summer at church camp. When I was a kid, it was KINGS KAMP at Camp Tanda. Then it was SoCal Teen camp up near Santa Barbara (back in those days). When I went to college, it was the Pepperdine Campus Ministry Retreats at Camp St. Nicholas in Frazier Park in the fall and the Oaks Christian Conference Center in Lake Hughes, CA.

Most of those camps still operate at the same time in the same place today. They continue to be a place of memory-making for young people. I have extremely fond memories of camp life at each stage. While I would like to appear more mature than I was, honesty must prevail.

For me, as a kid, the priority system was like this:

1. Have fun.
2. Have fun.
3. Have fun.

When I became a teen-ager, the priority system went like this:

1. Meet girls.
2. Have fun.
3. Look cool.
4. Grow spiritually

When I was in college, it went like this:

1. Meet girls.
2. Grow spiritually.
3. Meet more girls.

Tonight, I'm heading up to one of NCCC's camps for elementary and middle school kids. It will be interesting to see if the priority systems are much different. I'm coming up at the end of the week. My hope is that, as it was for me–the priority systems change over the course of the week.

I became increasingly focused on the spiritual as the week went on. It was still a system that included fun and (at the appropriate age) meeting a Christian of the opposite sex. However, spiritual growth tends to move up over the course of the camp week. That's a good thing. Perhaps that's Church Camp's biggest use besides fun…moving Christ up the priority ladder for young people.

A few questions:

Was your priority system different than mine at those ages?

What are some of your best memories of camp?

What are the primary benefits of church camps today?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Pastor of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on numerous websites, including:, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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