By Marnie Fisher-Ingram
I love camp ministry.
I am a product of camp ministry because I felt my first call to ministry while I was at church youth camp. Later, I spent my summers in college and seminary working for camps. It was there I was able to hone my teaching skills while leading Bible Study, games and crafts. It was there I witnessed the power of student leadership and saw the impact meaningful conversations can have on a young person’s life. It was there, in the midst of the beautiful camp chaos, where I felt my call defined.
After working in the local church for several years, I came to work for Passport, Inc. full time. For the last nine years, I have had the honor of shaping a program in which I strongly believe. I believe camp ministry, while certainly not the centerpiece of youth ministry, should play an essential role in youth ministry and your church.
Here are 5 reasons why I value camp ministry:
- Camp should be a part of a holistic youth ministry.
There are many aspects to a youth ministry—discipleship, evangelism, faith formation and fun. Youth can experience all of these during the same week of camp, all while being removed from everyday distractions and settings. It is one week where they spend time immersed in a Christian community and hopefully get a glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven could look like.
- Camp develops future Christian leaders.
Campers get to try new things—praying in public, painting a house for someone who needs some care and love, playing a game with a child in a back yard Bible club, leading a song in worship and much more. These opportunities can be the catalyst for students learning to express themselves, their faith and their calling.
- Camp offers valuable Christian mentorship.
At camp, students see what a lived faith can look like from staffers near their own age. At Passport, we are committed to hiring college and graduate school students to lead our camps. Our staffers learn gifts of organization, communication, facilitation and beyond. Not only are we helping the next generation of ministers find their voices, but we are also showing our campers that you don’t have to have a million-dollar book deal to preach the Gospel or be a chart-topping musician to lead worship. The student-staffing model allows them to see young role models, which leaves space for campers to think, “I could do this too.”
- Camp cultivates space for youth to learn, grow and question.
Camp ministry allows youth to feel free—they are away from their parents and siblings, free from the pressures at home, free from the stereotypes placed on them at school and free from the technology that keeps them connected to everything and everyone 24/7.
This same freedom gives them the opportunity to be who they want to be. Students share openly, connect with God in an authentic and real way, and experience Christian community. Camp can be the opportunity a student has needed to ask a burning question. Camp can be the place a student finally feels at home and even the place a student hears God’s voice for the first time.
- Camp is fun!
Games, silly songs, dancing, snacks, late nights and more make camp fun! Youth bond over snacks at night, and youth ministers get the opportunity to be silly on stage. Everyone gets to go a little wild at a dance party. Camp is the chance to let inhibitions go—in a safe environment. Campers and leaders have the opportunity to experience a Gospel that is lively, welcoming and dynamic, and makes everyone want to jump in and follow Jesus.
The value of camp is deeply meaningful. Yes, it is my fulltime job; I’m lucky to spend my days crafting an experience for students to hear the voice of Jesus, but it is also so much more. Our office takes seriously our calling to create a space that is centered on the Gospel and challenges students to follow the teachings of Jesus to help their neighbors, tell others their faith, and make this world a better place.
Do you know a dynamic college or graduate student who would make a great staffer? Send them our way at www.passportcamps.org/apply!
Marnie Fisher-Ingram is the Youth Program Coordinator for Passport, Inc. She lives in Birmingham, Ala., with her husband Daniel and her spunky 8-year-old daughter, Mollie. Marnie enjoys running, crafting, reading and coloring.
- Passport, Inc. is a partner ministry of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Registration for 2016 summer programs is now open! Find more information here.
- CBF Youth Ministry Network works to support, encourage and challenge those serving God and youth among the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Learn about the CBFYMN and how you can participate with them here!
- Oasis is an event designed by the CBF Youth Ministry Network to address the spiritual health of our CBF youth ministers. Oasis is not an education event, but it is professional development—we minister more effectively when we are in good spiritual health. Register here!
- D365, a daily devotional website produced by CBF partner Passport Inc., offers an Advent Devotional Series, Following the Star, beginning November 27.
- Youth Ministry Conversations supports those who minister with youth and their families. YMC posts articles each month around a specific youth ministry-related theme. They also offer resources, including Bible studies and retreats.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is blessed with ministers and laity who share their gifts with their congregation and community. ChurchWorks: Congregational Resources provides a virtual space for Fellowship Baptists to discover new ideas and share their gifts freely. The resources curated and shared here are offered so that CBF will continue forming together. We ask that you give these authors credit for their work where appropriate.