Who would imagine—Winter Camp without snow? But the lack of snow didn't stop the campers at Winter Camp from having an awesome camp experience. Temperatures were perfect to enjoy outdoor activities if appropriate clothing was worn.
Montello, Wisconsin, was the place where 103 campers and staff gathered to experience that special environment we call the Zone—that key element of each of the United Youth Camps. The Zone is where campers are immersed in a godly environment for 24 hours a day for the duration of camp.
This was the first year Winter Camp has been held in Montello, a small town about 30 minutes from the Wisconsin Dells. The camp facility proved to suit our needs quite well, providing a gymnasium for volleyball, stables and horses for horseback riding, open fields where we played football and a pond where campers could ice skate.
There were also ice rinks to play broomball, a sport that has been played by many youth up north. Broomball is like hockey, played on ice but without ice skates, hockey sticks or pucks. Instead it's played on ice with boots, a "broom" and a ball. This was a uniquely fun activity.
Campers also participated in various games and team challenges, both indoors and outdoors. They even learned some outdoor cold weather survival techniques.
One perennially favorite activity at Winter Camp is dance class. Campers are able to learn how to do the swing and various other dances. One evening we have "flex time" when campers can choose from various activities, and dance is always one of the most popular. It's nice for our teens to learn more advanced dancing skills than what is typically depicted on television.
While the physical activities were fun and educational, the most important aspect of camp is the spiritual. By far, most campers acknowledge that's part of their motivation to attend camp.
The theme of Winter Camp this year was "Out of This World—Into the Kingdom." Truly, there were many opportunities for campers to learn more about God's way of life at camp.
The campers had five days of focused attention on what it means to come out of the world. They were also able to consider their ultimate destiny of being leaders in the Kingdom of God.
Mornings began with Compass Checks—half-hour messages related to the theme. There was also a leadership workshop and a life skills class. Life skills focused on how young ladies can learn to apply Proverbs 31 in today's world. For the young men, it focused on masculinity.
There were also a couple of Christian Living question-and-answer sessions. Campers could ask the ministry any questions that were on their mind—and there were a lot of questions! The ministry present for the Q&As were Gary Black, Dan Dowd, Clyde Kilough, Scott Lord, Gary Petty and Randy Stiver. They were happy to give personal attention and direction to issues affecting the teens.
One new activity this year was Fear Factor PS. This workshop taught what to do if a young person is ever called on to speak in front of others. "PS" stands for public speaking. Fear Factor PS provided a unique opportunity for campers to face one of the most dreaded and feared activities—speaking in front of others. It not only provided a challenge, but also helped them experience success—one of the immediate outcomes we seek from the camp experience.
It was amazing how well the campers did once they had a little instruction and encouragement. Plus, many campers found the workshop fun.
We look forward to holding Winter Camp in the same location next year from Dec. 27, 2007, to Jan. 1, 2008. For more information, please watch for the upcoming United Youth Camps Magazine.