Each summer, we’ve picked the week, filled out the forms, paid the fees, packed the suitcases, and driven the kids to summer camp. We drop them off and a few days later, we pick them up, wash all the things, deal with all the feelings, and listen to all the stories. And the next year, we do it all again.
For us, we know the value of a week at camp. We have fond memories of our time at summer camp and want our kids to have similar experiences. As a clergy family, we also know that our kids need pastors that aren’t mom, people who will teach them and pray with them and lead them, and who don’t also need to make sure their chores are done and they eat some type of vegetable.
For many years, our kids have gone to Mount Shepherd Camp and Retreat Center. It is close to home, not super big or commercial, and the director happens to be a friend (who understands the unique needs of foster/adoptive families). The camp does a great job at hiring and training a diverse staff and keeping campers disconnected from technology and engaged in nature and fun activities. We’ve never been concerned for our kids’ safety and have always felt confident in the policies and procedures the camp has in place to assure kids have fun while staying safe. And if an accident or injury does occur (along with the expected sunburns and bug bites), proper care has always been taken and we were well informed.
So why do we make summer camp a priority?
- Our kids need time “unplugged.” Camp is an opportunity for a week in nature with no electronics. They can’t retreat on their screens. They learn and practice necessary and valuable face-to-face communication skills.
- Camp gives them an opportunity to meet people from outside their normal circles of life. They make friends and build relationships with new people, some that they get to see again summer after summer!
- Camp gives them experiences to stretch their comfort zones. They learn things like archery, rock climbing, new crafts, and team building games. Encouragement from “cool young adults” helps our kids do more than what they think they are capable of doing.
- With the kids away at camp for a week, mom and dad get to reconnect and get a break. Seriously, this is important for couples to have extended time together without kids and it gives single parents an opportunity to have a parenting break too.
- Our kids need a variety of safe, loving adults in their lives. Having a variety of caring adults gives kids a wider perspective of life, safe adults to share concerns when they feel they can’t talk to mom or dad, and more loving adults to check in on them and share life wisdom.
If you are near Asheboro, NC, consider sending your kids to Mount Shepherd this summer. They have lots of weeks open and scholarships are available for families who might need assistance. And when you get there, tell Pastor Josh we sent you!