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Summer Church Camps 2016

Faiths offer summer camping programs with reflection, adventure

Many elements go into the summer experiences faith communities in the region provide at their camps.

Paddlers explore on Lake Coeur d’Alene from Camp Cross.  Photo courtesy of Colin Haffner

Some denominational camps offer one-week age-group camps, while others offer age-group cabins and activities at multi-age camp weeks.  Some offer specialty camps for art, ranching, backwoods and mission service.

To compete with the many other activities available in the summer, church camps now have much more than swimming, crafts, canoeing, hiking, camp games and campfires.

Waterfront activities include sailing, wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboats, fishing, river floating outings, and inflatable floating blobs, slides and trampolines.

To add to adventure and community building, there are high ropes, low ropes, challenge courses, rock climbing, mountain boarding, mountain biking, a climbing tower and zipline, whitewater rafting, survival skills and horseback riding.

At the faith-based camps, the goal is to deepen the understanding and commitment of those involved in churches of the sponsoring denominations and to introduce faith to children and youth with no church experience.

Part of the faith development piece is for campers to experience the wonder of God in the natural setting.  Another part is to build life-long friendships and community relationships through the activities, adventures, meals, singing, Bible study and reflection based on a curriculum or theme.

Some camps are run by paid staff at the camp much of the summer.  Volunteer counselors and leaders plan and coordinate activities at other camps.

Attendance at most of the camps, even those operated by denominations that are declining, is steady or up, and most camps have facilities so they operate year-round as places congregations and other groups rent for retreats.  Camps are continually upgrading facilities to offer more hotel-like rooms, as well as cabins and tents.

Camps draw people by advertising, word-of-mouth, church channels, postcards, billboards, legacy, visits and social media.

Directors of six camps in the region recently shared what’s up this summer at their camps and insights into their operations and programs.

Copyright © June 2016 - The Fig Tree