Camps for younger folks I believe are still great tools for helping young people grow in their faith. We, as Texas Baptists, have some outstanding camps. There is one problem……..the cost!
I am afraid some of the camp directors have forgotten that many of our churches minister to families that cannot afford $200 to send a child to camp. Churches have tried to help, but with our own shrinking budgets, unless there is deliberate planning, it can be hard to come up with the funds for this excellent activity.
For years the church I serve has been sending money to a local camp on a regular basis. However, when we found out that the camp was going to charge us $220 per person, we suddenly realized we were sending money to an institution that had priced us out of attending. Now this camp has made some major improvements and additions. These improvements are nice, but again, are we not trying to create an “entertainment” mindset rather than working to get the kids away from the world?
We are going to take the percentage we once gave to this local camp and put it in a fund to pay for kids to go to camp. We will pick the camp we are to go to based not on how much fun stuff they have, but on the kind of program they offer. We will be looking for camps that will focus on teaching our youth cooperation, compassion, meditation, and most of all life changing Bible study.
I know of several churches that are coming together to create their own camp program. If the local camp cannot meet their needs then they will take their kids elsewhere. I would recommend that camps create endowments to help keep the cost down, but if we are not careful we could create another “Buckner blunder” in which an endowment becomes the vehicle by which a bureaucrat can manipulate a huge six figure salary rather than use the money for ministry.
It is time rethink much of what we have just done in the past. We need to be wise as serpents, gentle as doves.