Missions Camp: More Than Just a Week of Fun

happy kids singing songs around a campfire

I remember that summer as if it were yesterday. It was the first year our GA group had the opportunity to attend camp. We were so excited to get to spend a week with GAs from all over south Texas. It was going to be great! We were told to come prepared with our Scripture verse memorized and a song for the talent show. We were ready.

Unfortunately, while everyone else got the chance to sleep in the bunks, canoe in the lake, and learn those crazy camp songs, I was back at home missing out on all the fun. You see, in Hispanic families, unless your mama goes with you to an event, you can’t go. Well, at least that’s how it was in my family, and that summer, my mama had to work. So I grew up only hearing stories about camp.

Looking back, I have always wondered, What if she had known that missions camp was more than just a week of fun? Would she have let me go if she had known the purpose of missions camp? That it was not just a fun week away from home but an event that could have shaped my heart forever.

Like me, many of you did not have that camp experience. All we know of camp is that it’s a fun week that focuses on missions. And while that is mostly true, missions camp is so much more.

Missions camp is an experiential education that leads to mission action and greater awareness for missional living. All the experiences—friendships, overcoming challenges, Bible study, mission action, meeting missionaries, making crafts, enjoying God’s creation, and building character—prepare children for life fully aware that missions is more than an event in the summer. I’m sure if my mom had known this about missions camp, she would have signed me up first thing!
 

Challenging Transformation in Campers

As leaders, if we understand and communicate that missions camp is more than just a week of fun, it becomes the “game-changer” that we have been looking for in our ministries. It becomes the catalyst that we can use to stretch our children to think deeper about what they are learning.

We can even help our parents know that camp is actually an intentional environment designed to urge children to internalize missions and cultivate sensitivity to hear God’s call. It is more than earning a badge or patch and swimming in the lake. It’s a safe environment to learn and grapple with spiritual truths along with their peers. They might even ask questions they wouldn’t dare to ask back home. And if you think about it, missions camp is very much like a mini version of the missions training missionaries have to go through before they head out on the missions field. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if every child had an intense week of “missions training” and fun before going back into his or her missions field?
 

Networking to Get Your Kids to Camp

Have a small group of campers at your church? Connect with other churches in your association, and take a collective group to camp. Teaming up with other churches not only connects your children with other children who love Jesus but also creates a network of leaders. Together you can make your camp experience the best it can be. Networking also provides an opportunity to share transportation to and from camp. Collaborating with other leaders in your area cultivates long-lasting relationships that you can tap into for future events.
 

Drumming Up Support in Your Church

Encourage your church to support your campers before, during, and after camp. Before camp, urge your church members to commit to picking a child to pray for during the week of camp. Provide a wristband with the child’s name on it as a reminder to pray. Encourage prayer warriors to send a care package with their camper or write a few encouraging notes their campers can open throughout the week. After camp, invite the prayer warriors to celebrate and debrief with campers about their experience. Provide an opportunity for children to share their stories from camp, show pictures, and celebrate with their favorite camp food. Allow campers to plan this celebration, and empower them to share the main points they learned during the week.


Find a missions camp near you. 

Resources for missions camps are available through your state WMU office.


Liz Encinia is a grown-up GA and the executive director of Kentucky WMU. She has a passion for missions discipleship and helping the next generation live out its faith in Christ. 

 

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