If you have not read the previous article on Christian camping and decisionism, you need to read it first. I love Christian camping! I am directly involved with the Christian camping ministry as a member of a camp board in Utah, UTIBACA. I greatly appreciate the influence that a Christian camp had on my life growing up. It was at a Christian camp that I finally understood personal salvation as a free gift from God. It wasn't the preaching directly that accomplished this. It wasn't the influence of a counselor nor the heart-stopping games and activities. Instead it was the Spirit of God pricking me through His Word. I was saved at a young age (about 6 years old). I truly believe that the moment I believed that Jesus Christ died in my place to forgive me was the moment of my conversion. Shortly after that, I was baptized and began to grow in the Lord as much as a little child can. For six years, I doubted whether I was really saved or not; I wondered if I meant it enough or if my faith was strong enough. I would wake up in the middle of night frightened that Christ might return and I wasn't saved. Then, I would proceed to pray and ask God to forgive me and save me. This finally came to a head one evening at camp. The preacher probably preached on hell that night (I really don't remember much about the preaching), but I remember late that night walking to the bathrooms to brush my teeth. I thank God to this day, that it was a long walk from the cabins to the dingy bathrooms. As I was walking to the bathroom, I kept repeating in my mind the doubt, "What if I am not saved?" In desperation, I cried out loud to my God and said, "God, I have no idea if I am saved or not, but I can't think of anything else to do but to trust you." Suddenly it hit me, "That was it! The answer was God." I have many fond memories of friends made at camp, paintball wars, river rafting, mail-call. These all seem to blurr into one memory. However, I will never forget how rough the ground was as a trudged uphill to the bathroom. I will never forget how dark the sky was and how sweet the air smelled as my burden rolled off my back. The soft, rush of the Gallatin River and the rugged Montana wilderness bring floods of joy over my soul, because that was the night I learned to trust Jesus for the salavation He had already bought for me with His precious blood.
I encourage every young person in my church to go to camp (I do believe that we must be extremely cautious of how we present the Word of God to moldable youths). I believe every pastor must be involved in the camp he is sending his young people to. It is not enough to simply trust the speakers and the camp directors. After all, God gave the pastor the responsibility to watch over the souls of the flock. Here are some reasons why I support Christian camping and some things that I look at when choosing a Christian camp.
1. The Christian camp is led by Godly leaders who reject the philosophy of decisionism.
2. The Christian camp focuses on expositional preaching that centers on Christ not standards or hot-button issues. Camp directors and speakers, let the pastor lead his flock in which Bible version is the best and other areas of Christian liberty.
3. The Christian camp trains their counsellors to help the young person develop a closer walk with the Lord not to put another check mark up for a soul won for God.
4. The Christian camp needs to not focus on all the gadgets and fun to be had, but instead removes the distractions of the world so that the young person can focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. I have heard some well-meaning individuals say, "Well, if we can just get these worldly teens around good Christian teens, it will rub off on them." When we are talking about a relationship with Jesus Christ, positive peer pressure is not the answer. It merely creates a form of godliness, but denies the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. Lastly, the Christian camp needs to have a certain level of roughness. Of course I enjoy a swimming pool, weight room, heated rooms and down comforters, but our teens need to realize that they can do without. They need to get back to the basics. (Some of you may disagree with me, but don't worry, nobody's perfect).