What is known as ‘peak experiences’ is one of the things that has been found to be a key factor in young people continuing on with their faith. One of the influential places for these ‘peak experiences’ in people’s faith journeys is in the context of the temporary community that camps provide. Many of our community can testify to their experience of that over the years, including things like the men’s and women’s retreats in the life of our church.
Temporary community, especially Christian camps, have been key in my faith journey. This was especially true in my youth and young adult years. As a leader of my Christian group at school, I attended the week-long leadership conferences run by both Scripture Union and Crusaders (the CRUWest equivalent) in my last three years of high school. These were the foundation of my Christian formation, enhanced by some of my youth group leaders also being leaders on these camps, by the investment of people in my church and elsewhere, as well as by our youth group and church camps. Then, into my young adult years, I was part of leading and running equivalent camps (in a different state) which continued my faith development and cemented my understanding of the usefulness of camping in the faith development of young people.
During the week, as part of the Growing Young process we held a ‘focus group’ with young adults from other churches whose faith is thriving – a great gift of time and investment from these young people from other church communities! Not surprisingly, one of the things that came up was the benefit of temporary Christian community in their faith development. This included going on Beach Mission with their family, Scripture Union camps and youth group camps. Investment by leaders, Bible-based teaching, and training and fun with peers were all things that God had used in their faith journey.
(As a side note: It felt timely to me that the particular Scripture Union camp that was mentioned at the focus group was Canoemup, which some people currently in our church community have invested deeply in over the years, especially Graham Dowley!)
So it’s with this backdrop that I’m thankful that most of our young people have had an experience of Christian camps in recent years, with many of them planning on being on a camp in the upcoming summer holidays. It also reinforces Kieran’s and my strong encouragement of our young people’s participation in the CRUWest Spring Leadership Camp when they are in Years 9-11. (This camp is like the ones I went on as a teenager.)
Also, it’s why we request your prayers for our youth group camp next weekend (8th-10th November). Please partner with us in praying that the young people in our church and their friends will have the kind of transformative experiences I’ve described above. Pray that these young people grasp the good news found in Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him.