We have the opportunity as a camp to participate in a fellowship of other Christian camps both locally and across America. This fellowship is called the Christian Camp and Conference Association, or CCCA. Recently our staff was able to participate in a local meet up for hospitality and housekeeping folks from ten or so local Christian camps. We were hosted by the beautiful Lake Retreat in Maple Valley area and spent 2 days sharing with, praying for, and helping each other out. In one of our first sessions we went around the room and talked about each of our camps in turn. As we went around the room we heard about where they were located, how many they could hold, what programs they offered, and a little about what makes them unique.
The funny thing is that while each of our camps started in a different way, built slightly different things, and have distinct ways of staffing or funding - we all share some really essential things.
First, every camp cares about people. Camping is about putting kids, adults, and families in touch with God. Every Christian camp I’ve met, regardless of any other purpose, wants to see Jesus lifted high in the lives of their campers.
Second, camp people love camping. The activities of camp are all familiar: campfire, silly songs, traditions, worship, reading, rest, retreat, and just having fun. We know we're weird for loving these things as much as we do - and we don't care.
Of course we celebrate our unique strengths here at Pleasant Valley - our location deep in God’s natural creation, our design lends itself toward a feeling of being unplugged and disconnected, and our wonderful community of churches that work together and the people that volunteer to help camps happen every year. We are pretty darn good at giving people a restful and quiet retreat - and we do so for churches and groups from all over the NorthWest.
But what I love about Christian Camping is that what breaks all our hearts - and what fills them is very much the same: People. The kids and adults that come to camp break our hearts as we get to know them and the challenges they have in their lives. But nothing fills them up quite like seeing God change people’s hearts and minds as they hear and respond to His Gospel.
Sometimes camp work can feel a bit lonely, or even fruitless, as we struggle through the difficulties of fixing, maintaining, recruiting, speaking, sharing, advertising, cleaning, and all the rest of the stuff we do all year round. That is why it is so special, and so important, to sit around and remind each other why we do what we do. I hope that as you read this you are encouraged that the movement to see lives changed through Christian Camping and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive and well. To God be the glory here at Pleasant Valley and at every Christian Camp forever and ever amen.
Your Friend in the Wilderness,