For many people, the existence of Christian wilderness camps comes as a surprise. These types of retreats have a tremendous impact on thousands of young people every year. It is good to get in perspective what a Christian wilderness camp is for and the goals and the objectives a camp will have for your son or daughter if you a send a youngster to this kind of experience.
Sorting out Boot Camps for Youth versus Christian Wilderness Camps
A Christian wilderness camp is a more aggressive program than the traditional youth retreat that most churches have for their teenagers. But the objectives of taking youth out of their element and putting them in an outdoors, wilderness setting to inspire change and spiritual growth are the same. It is important to make a distinction, however, between a Christian wilderness camp for youth and a boot camp for teenagers. These two forms of intervention often have similar goals but the approach is different as is the population that you might find in each camp.
Very often boot camps for teenagers are set up almost entirely to be used to help very troubled youth turn their lives around. The kind of youth who come to a boot camp are often those for whom the only other option might be juvenile detention or a descent into a life of crime or drug abuse. As such, the style if intervention used at a boot camp is much more severe and rigorous than at a Christian wilderness camp.
A Christian wilderness camp is an appropriate means for helping a troubled youth to come to a turning point in his or her life. But the diversity of population at a wilderness camp for Christian youth can be much broader because the programs that are offered at these camps are not just there to serve as a last chance intervention for very troubled youth. They are appropriate for youth who simply need to have a time away from their routine lives and perhaps away from negative influences so that they can come to a spiritual turning point in the natural setting of a wilderness adventure
The Many Goals of a Christian Wilderness Camp.
It is also easy for Christian leaders and parents to confuse a Christian Wilderness Camp with a youth retreat or summer camp experience that most youth groups go on. There are some similarities because there is no denying that when your son or daughter goes to a Christian Wilderness Camp, they will enjoy a tremendous adventure. They will have fun and they will almost certainly experience a life changing encounter that will make a big difference in their Christian walk..
While these experiences are often had at a youth retreat, they are focused on with a greater intensity at a Christian Wilderness Camp. Along with those goals, there are some very specific objectives that the camp will have to instill into your youngster including…..
Not only are youth guided by expert Christian guides, they are challenged to take leadership roles with increasing levels of responsibility as they experience their Christian Wilderness Camp. These challenges will help young people begin to understand their own spiritual gifts and to appreciate Christian leadership and respond to it appropriately. .
A Sense of Mission.
Parents often wonder if the weeks a youth spends in a Christian Wilderness Camp are all about play and fun. In order to instill that sense of mission and service to mankind that is exemplified in the Bible, youth at a Christian Wilderness Camp are challenged to develop a deeply held sense of their own mission of service to the world during their time in camp. Many camps utilize the mission trip model taking youth on work excursions that tax the young people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That is the kind of challenge that changes a youth from the inside out. .
A Deeper Faith.
The heart of any Christian Wilderness Camp is what happens in the spiritual life of the youth who attend. The challenge of the wilderness adventure is provided to the young people to appreciate the life of Christ and to have that time of retreat in a natural setting where their spiritual lives can blossom. The emphasis on the spiritual walk with Christ as it intermingles with the profound experiences in the wilderness will birth a new sense of calling in the youth who go through this carefully designed spiritual retreat..
A Stronger Connection to Community.
Because the days and weeks spent in a Christian Wilderness Camp are done with others, the bonding with other believers is profound. In order to execute the basic functions of civilized living such as preparing a meal or securing the camp for sleeping, youth who share a faith must also come to depend on each other. The youth will go through a wide variety of challenging experiences while growing together in their knowledge of spiritual things as well. The sense of community that is built in the wilderness with other Christian youth will translate to a stronger commitment to Christian community in their home church and in their family lives as well. .
Finding the Best Christian Wilderness Camp for Your Child.
It is important to keep in mind that a Christian Wilderness camp is a challenging and sometimes unsettling experience. Youth will be away from family and in some cases familiar faces for a significant period of time. Before deciding to find the best Christian Wilderness Camp for your child, consult with the youth leaders who know him or her best along with church, school and medical counselors to determine if the Christian Wilderness Camp experience is the right next step for the youth. .
Also bear in mind that for the best possible outcome, a youth should already have a sense of commitment to their faith and take ownership over the goals of the Christian Wilderness Camp that we just discussed. To send a resentful youth to such a camp or to send a youth who is resistant to Christian doctrine to a Christian Wilderness Camp makes the likelihood that the experiences will be a success more remote. .
But if you determine that the challenge of a Christian Wilderness Camp is the perfect next step for your young person, there are a wide variety of programs in each state to choose from. Take some time and evaluate them carefully both in terms of the programs being offered and from a doctrinal point of view so you, as parents, feel confident that the combination of instruction and learning through experience will be a good step toward helping your child mature in the faith and in their path toward becoming a strong adult believer as well.
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