by JoAn Majors
It was the summer of 2006, when our son, JC first went to the summer camp where he would be six hours away from home for a week. Our middle daughter Katy, had a roommate while at Texas A & M who was a summer counselor for Deer Creek Camp in Medina. We were anxious like most parents, because he seemed so young to be left so far away. Who would make sure he brushed his teeth? Who would get up if he was scared at night? Could I really trust these people with my little boy? He has not missed a camp since, and this summer at 16, he’ll drive himself two times! The experience of summer camp has inspired him in ways we can’t explain or measure.
All those questions a parent has are legitimate and understood by anyone who has ever trekked across the state to deliver their young person into the hands of others for summer camp. What became evident was a new confidence and a distinct character being built by young people, not parents, in this immersion experience we call summer camp. These young leaders modeled great character daily. This child, the baby of the family, was much more confident in his abilities to take care of essential needs and lean on the Lord.
Teaching and mentoring these young people in the ways of the Lord was second nature to the staff. These college-aged kids were picked from universities to serve. They were the hands and feet for the Christ these children were learning to be more like. It literally brought tears to our eyes that first year, as we watched our little guy look up with such admiration to the leaders. To hear our son talk about character being what you were when no one could see you. How the girls were “red” area and guys were “blue” area. It was against the rule to make purple and that this was part of good character, following rules, and telling the truth.
Most young people find camp acquaintances become friends for life. Young people who now have the confidence and character to not only continue in the ways they have been led, but also choose to work at camp during “Friends Week.” A camp held in the end of summer that serves children with challenges. Each of these high school students, like our son, is paired up with a young person to serve them and Him daily. Last year JC had the privilege to serve a young man with Down Syndrome. He was such a sweet kid and you could see his eyes light up as our son presented his award at the end of this special time together. Think about this for a moment, a 16 year old kid who wants to go hang out in the August heat, in the woods (without a cell phone, computer or video game) to serve another who might not have the experience of summer camp without him. It doesn’t take much to figure out that this summer camp has created an experience and influence in our son’s life that we couldn’t have done independently.
Choosing the right camp may be your first step. There are so many to choose from in our great state. We had a unique connection and it grew from there. Once you find the Faith-based camp you have read about and want to consider, make a call to the camp. Do it early, so your research is done and you can get your child in the session that works best for your family schedule. We suggest you interview the owners, onsite staff, and founders if possible. For us, once we met Pam and Jim Behling, (aka Papa and Mama Bear) it was evident that this was the place for us. Like the greatest set of grandparents’ young people could have, here they were in leadership. Their philosophy and drive to serve was beautiful to us. Now our son goes to a two-week leadership camp, since he is older and will once again serve during Friends Week. Trust Him in this process, pray for the right place, and right people to grow your young person. It goes by fast, so take lots of pictures while they are young enough to let you! Summer camps can build character and confidence we have seen it happen before our eyes. Travel Safe!
JoAn Majors is a professional speaker and published author. Her articles have appeared in over 25 magazines and newsletters. She is a member of the National Speakers Association, Global Speakers Network, and International Speakers Network. She also assists in the marketing of her husband’s Bryan/College Station dental practice, MajorSmiles.com. JoAn is happiest being mom, nanny, sister, or honey to her family. To learn more about having her speak to your group visit joanmajors.com or call 866.51.CHOICE. The Time is Now, The Choice is Yours! (JoAn gives back equivalent to 20 percent of her total in speaking fees per year in gratis work for local groups.)