Camp season is just around the corner! The camp staff is already busy making plans for over 400 campers who will be attending this summer. Our staff would love to have you attend.
What do you most look forward to when you come to camp? What about seeing all your friends again! Or making new friends? And there is the Zone—the safe place where all campers and staff can enjoy a week of spiritual growth in an emotionally safe environment. The Zone actually pictures the future Kingdom of God. Now where else can you find all of this other than United Youth Camps?
But wait, we’re not going to ignore the many recreational activities at camp. What are some of your favorite activities at camp? Is it swimming, water skiing, the high challenge course, the dances, the good food, talking with your dormmates, chilling out after dinner at a camp mixer, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, making something cool in craft class or tubing at Winter Camp? These enjoyable activities are offered to make sure each camper has lots of fun, learns new skills, faces challenges and fears successfully and builds confidence. Many campers tell us that they come away from camp with a heightened sense of leadership, social etiquette and the ability to work with others. Again, where else can you spend a week and have all of this, and more, a part of your life?
God’s model cannot be improved upon, and we are thankful to follow it in our camp program.
By way of background, when the United Church of God formed in the spring of 1995, one of the first priorities set by the ministry was to establish summer camps for our teens and preteens. Camps began with only a few months notice and were a success from the very first year. Camp builds on what we read in Psalms 71:5 Psalms 71:5For you are my hope, O Lord GOD: you are my trust from my youth.
American King James Version×: “For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.” God is calling you when young so you can have a one-on-one relationship with Him, which is really incredible.
Returning campers know that our main focus is always on Christian living—teaching from the Bible and showing God’s way of life to our campers and staff. Our camp programs offer varied and challenging activities, but the core purpose of camp is to teach the truths illustrated in our overall and daily themes each year.
In teaching our Christian living lessons each year at camp, we include visual, active and audio reinforcement throughout each day. The lessons are designed in a discussion format so you campers will think about and apply what is being taught. The lesson of each day is carried through in the activities, dorm discussions, campfire talks and dorm parent encouragement. Memory scriptures are often practiced by the entire dorm as campers walk between activities. The themes of the week are summarized and made practical by the messages and Q&A sessions on the Sabbath. The result is a package of truth and practical lessons that each camper takes home, hopefully helping them to live God’s way of life during the year.
Notice that this Christian living model is based on the example in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Deuteronomy 6:6-9  And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
 And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
 And you shall write them on the posts of your house, and on your gates.
American King James Version×: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (New International Version). God’s model cannot be improved upon, and we are thankful to follow it in our camp program.
Some of you have noticed that during the Feast of Tabernacles we have asked you at the teen Bible study what the attendees remember from summer camp that year. It has been rewarding to see how many campers recall the themes and memory verses from the previous summer. This is inspiring!
In the camper surveys that are filled out at the end of camp each year there are some encouraging trends in recent years. Three important questions are gaining in positive ratings. They are: 1) “Campers understand the Christian living content provided,” 2) “Increased motivation to pray and study the Bible” and 3) “Campers believe God is calling them.” These are vital areas that the senior camp team has worked very hard on, and we are pleased to see the results.
Our United Church of God camps are growing! In 2017 in the U.S. we operated six teen camps, attended by 493 campers and served by 356 staff. The seven preteen camps included 473 campers and 449 staff. So our camps involve nearly 1,800 people or roughly 25 percent of our weekly church attendance in the U.S.
We really hope you will join the staff this summer at the camp of your choice. And if you have never been to camp, please go this summer. You will have the time of your life. Reserve your spot at camp by registering online now at http://uyc.ucg.org. We’re looking forward to seeing you at camp.