In this letter, Rev. Daniel Bullock reflects on his experiences at Camp Wilkin and discusses how Christian Camping brings families, friends and people together for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
As a long-time supporter of Christian camping, I was both interested and encouraged to recently see the research in the infographic below around the strong connection between camping and faith commitments. It caused me to reflect on my own experiences of Christian camping.
I have personally been involved in Christian camps in a number of contexts over many years, primarily in leading youth and all-age camps and attending church family camps. These events provided great community with one another, the opportunity to go deeper on a spiritual and relational level and the simple pleasure of having fun and relaxation in an environment away from the usual pressures of life.
I have terrific memories of family camps at Camp Wilkin, Anglesea when my son was a young boy. These occasions provided an inexpensive way to have a holiday in beautiful surrounds and enabled my son, as an only child, to connect with many other children. As a family we greatly enjoyed and appreciated meeting new people and forging friendships during these times. Another added bonus is that camps can be a place to find one’s life partner; in fact, I have observed over the years a number of camp romances that eventually led to the altar!
The data in this infographic clearly shows Christian camps are pivotal in people making faith commitments, indeed I have personally seen many young people commit their lives to Jesus through youth camps.
My son, now in his teenage years, attends youth camps a couple of times a year and always returns enthused and renewed in his faith and speaks of friends who have given their lives to Jesus. As a parent this is very heartening to see and hear. I would also add, that my own experience and involvement as a leader in the Alpha program shows me those who attend the weekend away (part of the Alpha course) are more likely to make a faith commitment than those who do the course but do not attend the weekend away.
“These events provided great community with one another, the opportunity to go deeper on a spiritual and relational level and the simple pleasure of having fun and relaxation in an environment away from the usual pressures of life.”
There is something about the time and space away which seems to help foster a greater openness to the gospel and likelihood of conversion. And so it is with the opportunities created by Christian camping.
I would encourage all churches to invest time and budget in creating opportunities for their young people and families to participate in Christian camps or retreats. The life-changing impact and effect is undeniable both statistically and anecdotally.
As a pastor and in my current role as Director of Mission & Ministries of the Baptist Union of Victoria, I have heard many testimonies citing a Christian camp as the place and time of coming to faith. Others commonly refer to a camp or retreat as a pivotal point in their Christian journey, a deepening of their faith or some other defining spiritual experience.
Let’s not miss the opportunities that Christian camps and retreats allow for expanding and advancing God’s Kingdom!
Rev. Daniel Bullock
Director of Mission & Ministries
Baptist Union of Victoria