No more studying, no more tests. No more gym class or complicated mathematical formulas. No more book reports or science projects. School was out; the entire summer lay before me! Now the question was: How would I fill my summer?
I have fond memories of summers as a teen and young adult. My favorite summers were those spent at the Church's youth summer camps. They were incredible! Growing up a somewhat shy and reserved kid, summer camp afforded me the grand opportunity to step outside my "comfort zone"—in a safe and protected environment. No one teased me over the two cowlicks on my head, the clothes I wore, riding the bus in high school or not celebrating Christmas. Instead, at camp everyone believed the same way I did when it came to church and religion. There was a tremendous atmosphere of encouragement, support, togetherness and brotherhood.
Now I help direct the United Youth Camps program, wherein we place a huge emphasis on what we call "The Zone." The Zone defines the environment of our camps. But it's more than what our staff and campers do and say. It extends to how we interact—even how we think—during each week of our six camps.
Working together in great concert, all participants strive to create an environment that, as much as possible, is a foretaste of what the world will be like during the Millennium, the coming 1,000-year rule of the Kingdom of God on earth through Jesus Christ, as described in the Bible. In other words, we want to have the campers experience something fantastically unique—a small picture of how things will be when everyone on earth is living God's way of life!
Creating the Zone is no small task. Bullying, teasing, excluding others or practical jokes, while commonplace at school, is not permitted at camp. In building this millennial-like experience, we encourage teamwork, serving others, camaraderie, celebrating others' successes, experiencing pure fun and discussing God's way of life. We want our staff and campers to truly witness that God's way works!
Think of it as a world away from the world! Living in the Zone compels awareness of a world to come that is far better than the world we live in—a world where parents have successful marriages, where people are focused on helping others and where cheaters don't win. Living in the Zone means behaving in ways that promote serving and caring genuinely for others.
Society teaches that we can do whatever we want. You may be familiar with the bumper sticker that says "COEXIST"—where each letter is a different religious symbol. While some see this as merely encouraging religious tolerance, the symbols cohering together evenly into a word seem to imply that all religions are equally valid. Such mentality is inconsistent with the world that Christ will establish at His return. Many in society deem that smoking is okay, that excessive use of alcohol is okay and that sex before marriage or any form of sexual immorality is okay.
You won't find these things in God's world to come! With the start of each camp week, campers define the Zone daily by kind and responsible personal conduct, looking forward to a world that is much different from the world we live in.
Wouldn't you like to live in such a world? A world of no hurt, no pain, no sorrow. A world filled with compassion, friendships, support, encouragement and love. What a world that will be!
You can take a vacation from the world around you. Decide now to be a better person, living the way of life that Jesus taught would characterize God's wonderful world to come!
Learn more about your opportunity to grow to be part of that world beyond this present, troubled world—and even beyond the joys of youth camp—by reading our free booklet What Is Your Destiny?, available by mail or on our website.