Christian summer camps are one of the most popular and common types of camps in the United States, but many don’t realize the wide variety of programs available to young people. Knowing the different kinds of retreats is a great place to start as you work to find the very best option for your kids.
"Traditional" can mean the camp and its recreational offerings are what most consider a typical summer camp experience. Water recreation, sports, camp food, crafts, archery, horseback riding, and other activities are the focus of each day, but this traditional camp is offered by staff who are Christian, and leadership and staff hope to model and pass on God's values in everything they do.
Another meaning of a traditional program is that the camping experience uses a Bible Camp model, which emphasize Biblical teachings, helping young people know God’s word, memorizing scripture, and practicing spiritual discipleship. There are still times for recreation, but a religious emphasis is greater in these camps. Times of small group Bible study or discussion and individual quiet times are also common activities with Bible Camps.
2. Church Camp
Many people will talk about the memories they have from “Church Camp” while they were growing up. Kids will attend a Christian summer camp with their own church youth group, and many times the whole camp is comprised of youth from one church or from one denomination. One of the unique advantages to these kinds of programs is that kids can attend with friends from their own hometown and home church. Getting away for a week like this allows these friendships to grow and deepen, and the neat part is that these friendships don’t end after camp.
Another advantage is that youth group leaders, church leadership, and possibly parents come along to staff the camp, so the camping experience can be more tailored.
Specialized camps can have some great and unique strengths. Those that are designed to serve disabled youth will have great accommodations, specially trained staff, and programs designed to meet the needs of these kids. Other camps also welcome disabled youth, but they may not be equipped as well as specialized camps.
There are specialized camps that focus on drama, or the arts, or sports, or horses, or outdoor adventure opportunities, and they're located all over the country. Your kids could experience anything from the mountains of Colorado or Montana, to the deserts of Utah, to an amazing camp by the sea, depending on their needs, what they love to do, how adventurous they are, and how far from home they are comfortable being. You should also make sure you know what the total costs for specialized camps are, including fees for elective activities.
CampPage can help you find the perfect camp for your kids.
About Mark Dubler: Mark Dubler has been a leader, host, and participant in camps and retreats for the last twenty years. He holds an M.A. in Educational Ministries from Wheaton College and is the Executive Director of Otyokwah Camp and Retreat Center, a Christian facility with a rich history of providing personal, life-changing experiences.