From the Advocate: Why camp? The question should be: Why not camp?
May 4, 2016 / By Mike Huber
Over my 47 years of life I have seen numerous examples of lives transformed by experiences at a camp. I was a family camper at Aldersgate and Casowasco. I was a summer staff member at two Mennonite camps while in college; and as a professional camp and retreat staff member, I have listened to, prayed with and walked with many who, through the transformative power of Christ have been renewed and changed through camp. I am one of those lives. – Transformed lives
I still remember the warm, genuine smile of my first counselor at camp. I can remember him sitting and listening to me when I explained where I was from and the family I was a part of. I confess I don’t remember his name but I remember his welcoming, caring spirit and the influence he had on my life. While supervising camp staff, I have heard from parents for many years what the impact of a caring staff or volunteer mentor has had on their child. Whether a young adult or seasoned veteran, adult mentors are the hands, smile, and feet of Christ. – Adult mentors
My parents were committed to giving my brother and I experiences outside in nature. We lived in a neighborhood that had a lot of kids and we were outside all the time and seemed to live outside in the summer months. We camped in tents and later up-scaled to a pop up camper throughout childhood. It was, however, at Aldersgate where I united the love of outdoors to the One that created it all. God’s wondrous works speak to me in a way that brings the Bible to life. – Nature and adventure
My best friends are from two timeframes in my life – time spent attending and working at Camp and friends from my College Camp Staff days. Two of my leadership mentors, now in their eighties, met while working at camp and both share that throughout their life of ministry the constant has been their camp connection. Numerous people share that their best friends or spouses were met at camp. – Lifelong friendships
Individuals that come to camp for a week of camp and/or a retreat experience form a community that is intensified by living together, breaking bread together, playing together and worshiping together in creation. The shared experience, exploration and learning that happens in this community lasts well beyond the temporary time together at one of our centers. Some reunited years later, some annually and some weekly in service. Faith communities formed at camp are powerful because individuals have met Christ in one another and leave empowered to serve and witness to others. – Temporary Community
Now more than ever it is critical that we provide places and experiences for children, youth, families and adults to learn or be reminded that there is a God, God loves them and God wants a relationship with them.
Mike Huber is the Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries for the Upper New York Conference.