I'm taking a group of youth to Lutherdale Bible Camp tomorrow. For several years I have been taking groups from various congregations I have served to camps in several states. It's going to be a great time for all of us.
In many ways my experience of camp has followed my growth in faith. Ten years ago I took a group to camp for the first time while I was an intern in Sioux City, Iowa. Located in the lakes region of western Iowa, Lutheran Lakeside Camp was a great place to come together as a community, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday and immerse ourselves in God's creation. But I have to admit I was a little afraid of being cut from modern life. I drove into town each morning to buy a copy of the USA Today in order to keep up with what was happening in baseball.
My favorite memory of that week, one I didn't expect, was the good people I met at camp. There were several pastors there who were easy to talk to and gave me many encouraging words since I was still in the seminary/candidacy process. About a month after I returned from camp one of those pastors, Ray Miltner, who himself was about to retire from ministry, sent me a gift of a prayer book that I have used in my devotions ever since.
So for me camp is certainly about the escape, the outdoors stuff, the bugs, the water, the trees, and the hikes... but most importantly it is about the people you meet and share community with for a spirit-filled week. Those connections have helped me in my faith journey. I know that has also been the experience of many of the youth who go to camp. They bring back home with tme memories those many connections they made with new friends and mentors. The seeds of the gospel have been sown in there heart.
As you live your faith, be intentional about getting out of your comfort zones and find new communities and new people that will help you grow.