“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” (Mark 1:12-13)
The concept of Christian Camps is a very old part of Christianity, though it has not gone by that name until our own time. In the earliest years of Christianity, disciples recognized the value of time away from the normal routine of life. Creating a new routine modeled after Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness (Matthew 4), these believers, commonly called the “desert fathers” or the “desert saints,” retreated into the wilderness in the third century and began a movement that would develop into the monastic tradition in centuries to come. This group was not hiding from persecution as had their predecessors, but rather they fled from the embrace of worldliness and the corruption that they perceived falling on the church as it was incorporated into the Roman imperial system. While the movement has certainly been guilty of excesses through the years, the central concept remains solid. A time of distance from the world and a renewed focus on the spiritual disciplines has the power to rejuvenate and reshape the soul.
Though not all are alike, at their best our Christian camps function under this same model, but with an aim directed at our youth. Young people face a constant onslaught of influences that challenge the power of God’s gospel in their lives. Some live in broken homes, where abuse and self-destructive habits are the norm. Others live in affluent homes where too often worldly values replace Christian virtues. Additionally, the current generation of our campers, sometimes called the Media Generation, is the first generation to be “wired in” nearly every hour of the day. They live, play, and learn in the world of technology and are shaped by it. They tend to be more connected electronically and more lonely and isolated personally.
Christian camps provide a way of “unplugging” from the system. It briefly takes the child away from the influences of the world and gives them a chance to breathe in the air of a uniquely Christian environment. For one short week, they get a chance to see their entire world anew through Christian glasses. Their teachers are Christians, their counselors are Christians, and their fellow campers are Christians. They learn from God’s Word, they worship, and they commune with people who are focused on God. While it is just one week, this seven day stretch has the capacity to renew the weary soul and recalibrate the heart.
I personally work with Frog Road Christian Camp as a board member and as the co-director of the Faith Week session hosted there each June. The facility itself is nothing to brag about, and the conditions in Oklahoma’s summer months can be predictably unpleasant. Regardless, Faith Week remains my favorite week of every calendar year. It is one week I can count on to refocus my own life and make a lasting impression for the Lord in the hearts of children. If you are interested in helping the work done by the camp or making use of the facilities yourself, you can visit www.frogroad.com for more details.
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’” (Mark 10:13-14)