Our two eldest (age 9 & 11) went to their first Christian camp this holidays. It was a big deal – mainly because they were both away for 4 nights and had never been away for that long without a family member. Also, because we have been waiting for these fun times to start for a while now!
It was the perfect choice for them: they could go together, the camp was aimed at 9-13 year-olds and thanks to some planning and a number of dear friends across Adelaide with similar age children, each went with a group of friends who were in their small groups and dorm rooms.
I had some feelings of misgiving when I dropped them off. There was no reason to: the camp was well-organised, the kids were welcomed wonderfully (as was I), and due to Adelaide being a small place we knew a number of the leaders personally. Yet there is always that feeling of anxiety when you leave your children anywhere.
Fast forward five days and I was back to pick them up. The end of the camp was in an auditorium packed with kids, leaders and parents.
I spotted my two surrounded by friends and leaders. They, with all the others, recited from memory the verses they had learnt during the week - Hebrews 12:1-2. The all leapt up to sing and dance unashamedly to Colin Buchanan’s “Super Saviour”. They hugged and thanked their leaders. Then a photo collage came up and showed snapshots of the week.
I found myself a bit misty-eyed as I watched. For what a gift and privilege it is to have people who are willing to teach and lead camps for kids. Who are willing to be Christians and be fun with children. Who are willing to talk about Jesus unashamedly. Who are willing to sleep for a week with a bunch of giggling 9-year old girls or a bunch of noisy smelly older boys. Who are willing to lose sleep, listen to inane conversations, make craft, be silly, yet do it all in the name of Jesus so that these kids have role models who follow Jesus.
I know for certain that we, their parents, are their main teachers. It is our job to teach them of Christ and his marvellous work. But I also know that we do this as part of a team, and we are entering that youth stage where the team is growing. More members need to be enlisted. Young men who will show my son how to stand up and stand strong for Jesus. Young women who will show my girls what it looks like to find your value in Christ alone.
I am so incredibly thankful for all the people who give their time on this camp, it was great for the children and the kids loved it. But, we as parents loved it too and are incredibly thankful.
This camp (and others in time) will now be a regular feature of our January. We will need to re-think the timing of our annual leave to make it work. Our youngest is now counting down the two years until she is allowed to go. I know not everyone lives in places where these options are available, but if they are – it’s worth making it happen. Expand the team of role models for your kids!