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7 Reasons Campers Need Summer Camp Right Now

Campers working as a team.

Campers working as a team.

Our world has been upside down for almost a year now. Hard to believe, right?! Weirdly enough, upside down has almost started to feel normal.  (Quick reminder: It won’t be like this forever. Also, God made humans to be incredibly resilient, especially when we turn to Him.)  Still, we feel the effects of everything that has changed, and it’s not all new puppies and quality family time. Each family’s experience is a little different, of course. Across our nation, though, kids are more isolated, more anxious, and on their screens more.  It’s reality for many, but it’s not how any of us want it to be.

I’m a little (or a lot) biased, but the needs of kids today (community, social interaction, security, reassurance, fresh air, hands-on experience, and guidance) shout SUMMER CAMP to me!  These are the exact things summer camp specializes in. Let me explain:

Camper making a silly face

Camper making a silly face

Interaction with peers!

At camp, kids are moving through their entire day surrounded by friends their own age! Bonding through new adventures, shared experiences, and unstructured play times, campers strengthen new and old friendships.  With their counselor’s help, they navigate conflict in healthy ways and learn to get along with people who are different from them. Camp is a supportive environment where social skills grow!

Campers playing a game on the rec field

Campers playing a game on the rec field

Outdoor time!

Whether hammocking on the Cove or competing in a high stakes canoe race, campers experience the benefits of nature all day. What benefits, you say? (Has it been that long?) Fresh air, sunshine, and movement improve health and mood, and even lower stress! The Bible also tells us God’s character is revealed in His creation (Rom 1:20): His majesty in the heavens, his beauty in the details… Have you seen a mature Big Leaf Magnolia tree or eaten a mayberry off the bush? God’s creation is amazing and sometimes delicious!

Campfire

Campfire on the island.

Learning more about Jesus Christ!

It’s true for adults and kids: Through prayer, praise, bible study, and Christian community, we come to a better understanding of even His most simple truths. Take for example, God’s promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20), His power (Luke 1:37), and His attention to detail (Matthew 6:26), and His love for each of us (Romans 5:8). This season seems to hold a lot more problems for everyone, so we practice taking our problems to the one who has the power to do something about ‘em!

A camper and her counselor

A camper and her counselor

Amazing Christian role models!

Mom, Dad, you are definitely still cool, and your kids certainly take all your advice and apply it immediately. Hear me out, though. What if a whole team of very cool teens and young adults were also investing in the growth and success of your children, and also speaking truth and encouragement to them? They could teach them fun games and keep them safe all at the same time, too. Sound to good to be true? Well, it’s not. It’s every single day of camp!

A counselor’s words and actions carry a lot of weight, and at camp your child is surrounded by an array of great role models, ready to share about their walk with Christ and encourage your child in their own relationship.

A camper learns archery for the first time.

A camper learns archery for the first time.

Doing new things!

Unless you have a 250 foot zip line, a five-sided treehouse, and a selection of canoes, funyaks, paddleboats, and paddleboards for your 7 acre lake, and more (umm, can we come over?), we guarantee there’s a fresh new adventure for your camper. This year, we’re adding a few new experiences for even more fun! Kids draw confidence from trying new things and experiencing real success. No one is amazing at everything (volleyball will never be my sport, and that’s okay). However, with so many different activities and coaching from a watchful counselor, each camper finds something they love (even if it’s not on the schedule.).

Campers with the shelter they built

Campers with the shelter they built

Kid-centered fun!

Campers are our priority! Everything is designed for the camper: fun games and activities for their age group, songs only an elementary schooler would love, appropriate bedtimes, and kid friendly delicious food. Counselors focus on the camper’s experience the entire time they are here, even praying for campers on their way to camp.

Campers at a supper cookout

Campers at a supper cookout

Unplugged!

Camp is a screen-free environment, and campers are too busy having fun to miss their devices! We all know the blue glow of the screen is a little rough on the eyes. The constant attention-grabbing is exhausting. At camp, campers live their own story instead of watching others’ stories through a 5-inch rectangle. Real life is so much bigger.

Whew! Thinking about all of this makes me ready for camp right now!  You too? ;) Even as the world changes, kids continue to need the unique qualities of summer camp, and this summer, it feels especially urgent.

Now, we know this list is incomplete (can the whole of camp ever really be captured in words?) so help us out. What does your camper need right now? What can camp offer your family?

A Summer of Service

David painting the Tall Pines playground.

Tucked among the many stories of disappointments, this summer, one camp counselor made the most of the remnants of his summer plans.  David Betancourt (an LIT in 2018) gladly received a grant in April of 2020. The grant, through the Summer Service Program (SSP) of Mennonite Central Committee would supplement his camp counselor earnings for college.  With no campers or summer camp, however, the assignment changed completely. Still, David took it all in stride and accepted without hesitation.

Along with leadership workshops via Zoom, David did groundskeeping at camp and helped with Jubilee’s food outreach.  His hours at camp included pressure washing the swamp trail, painting the playground, and taming the Tall Pines flower beds. Most sunny afternoons, the distant hum of the weed eater or lawn mower buzzed across the lake, as David subdued the quick growing grass, in preparation for guests.

David admits some of the hours mowing got a little long. David, however, enjoyed using his time on the riding mower to process his leadership workshops. He could consider the strengths and perspective he brings as a leader. Over the course of the summer, David saw himself grow in self-awareness through this program. Next for David, he hopes to continue to grow in his leadership as he considers the camp counselor role for summer 2021.

 

 

Stitches of Love

Pictures of participants around the Camp Quilt in Tall Pines Fellowship Center.

Many people gathered around the Camp Quilt for fellowship and quilting.

Though postponed twice due to COVID-19, quilters finally gathered in July for the Camp Quilt Retreat & Workshop. Laughter, conversation, and technical quilting questions rang throughout the gym of Tall Pines as folks from Gulfport, Des Allemands, Jackson, and Meridian added their stitches to the Camp Quilt, a queen size Mariner’s Compass pattern in black and gold.  Throughout the weekend over 30 people came to quilt or fellowship around this treasure, which will be sold in October to benefit Pine Lake’s ministry.

First time quilter Sherry Sheffield said, “I attended Camp Sale for years and wanted to see the process behind the scenes.” Workshop participant Rhoda Yoder said she loved working with and learning from veteran quilters who were patient and encouraging. “It was good to spend the hours with other women who love and support Camp.”

New this year, quilting took place in the spacious and well-lit Tall Pines, completed in March. Also new, kids could quilt or do classic camp activities like boating, carpetball and treehouse hiking. Pine Lake’s excellent summer staff led these activities. Sherry said, “My kids had so much fun. I got to enjoy sewing and fellowship and I didn’t have to worry about them.”

Many thanks to the planners: Andreah Davis, Carrie Geil, Jody Miller, and Karen Fedrick who pooled their ideas and resources to make this event possible!​

Kids at Quilting Retreat


Kids (big and small) had lots of fun at the Camp Quilt Retreat & Workshop.

Family Escape in July

Two families at Family Escape in July enjoyed various activities
Two families at Family Escape in July enjoyed various activities

Two families at Family Escape in July enjoyed various activities, including tie-dye and the new escape room.

In July while many families looked for ways to soak up summer with ever-changing restrictions and safety concerns, a couple families attended Pine Lake’s very first Family Escape Weekend, a fun way to deepen their relationship with God and each other.

With the help of trained summer staff, the families enjoyed the time-tested camp fun of zip line, boating, tie-dye, archery, and low ropes course; and conquered the challenges of Pine Lake’s new Escape Room! Pictured above, right, the Escape Room challenged families to work togetherin order to find and solve clues to break free!

Each family rested comfortably in their own climate-controlled lodging and prepared meals in their own kitchen space in Tall Pines.

While both families expressed gratitude for the time and memories made at camp, the kids look forward returning (or coming for the first time!) to Pine Lake as campers next summer! Nothing can replace the wonder of summer camp! 

Sad you missed the first Family Escape?
The next one is September 4th – 7th (Labor Day Weekend).

Formative Moments at Summer Camp

At Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, campers experience an authentic program filled with games, activities, moments, and conversations that point towards JESUS.  

  • The JOY in shared worship as the entire camp sings Jesus Loves Me (Camp style) around the campfire.
  • The sound of a cabin group’s LAUGHTER as they walk across a sunny ball-field
  • The FLAVOR of fresh mint leaves handpicked picked from the herb garden.
  • The initial shriek of fear turned to ENTHUSIASM as a camper scoots off the zip line platform for the first time and realizes that he/she can do things that seem scary.
  • The WONDER in a camper’s face as she peers into jars of preserved snakes and lizards native to her own backyard.  
  • The overwhelming sensation of the HOLY SPIRIT calling a camper draw nearer to Jesus
  • The moment when a camper recognizes that he/she truly BELONGS to a community and are part of God’s plan

This article was part of the August 2018 PLFC newsletter. Want to see what else was in that issue?  CLICK HERE!

Be Bold

Sarah is a camper who came to camp this summer with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  For over a year, she wanted to take the step of baptism, she felt to embarrassed too bring it up with the adults in her life.   Embarrassment and fear are two emotions that can hinder growth.

At camp, the counselors create a safe place and welcome campers to share about their faith or things they struggle with.  Campers also can encourage and challenge cabin mates to take the next step in their walk with Christ.

Sarah felt comfortable enough to approach her counselor and share her hesitation and embarrassment to be baptized.  Sarah received the encouragement needed to take the next step of baptism into her congregation.  In the weeks after camp, her parents informed Pine Lake that she has asked about being baptized.

The song that we sing quite often at campfire is, Be Bold, Be Strong.  It seems to fit quite well with Sarah’s week.

BE BOLD

“Be bold, be strong 
For the Lord thy God is with us
Be bold, be strong
For the Lord thy God is with us
I am not be afraid; I am not be dismayed
‘Cause I’m walkin’ in faith and victory
‘Cause I’m walkin’ in faith and victory
For the Lord thy God is with us”

Praise the Lord for giving Sarah boldness to declare her call to be baptized and draw closer to Jesus!


This article was part of the August 2018 PLFC newsletter. Want to see what else was in that issue?  CLICK HERE!

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