Summer is often a time when children and youth head off to camp to meet new friends, take in the atmosphere, and learn about Jesus. This year, however, summer camp will take on a whole new feel.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in-person camping activities have been postponed throughout the West Virginia Annual Conference. This doesn’t mean camping activities will be suspended for the year. Instead, camping ministries will continue with an innovative approach to summer camps, taking the experience into the camper’s own home.
“Camp@Home is our response to the pandemic,” said Rev. Shea James, Director of Young Disciples and Outdoor Ministries for the West Virginia Annual Conference. “It was not safe for campers to gather in large groups together at camp. However, we know that camp changes lives because children and youth encounter Christ while they are at camp. We know that kids who go to church camp are three times as likely to still be involved in church five years later than their friends who don’t go to camp. So, having no camp this summer simply didn’t seem like a good option.”
Once that was clear, James said, the camping ministries team got to work, thinking through how to do camping ministries in this unique season. What was birthed out of that process was a ministry that took camp to the living room. She said the hope is to continue the connection with Spring Heights and other campers, while making disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Our summer staff has really stepped up as leaders, as we’ve created this brand-new program,” James said. “I am excited to hear how our young people are going to hear from God during Camp@Home and how they will respond.”
The first week of Camp@Home began July 6, but the week will be repeated starting July 13. Week two will begin July 20, and will be repeated starting on July 27.
Campers will receive an array of items and resources to help guide them through the camping experience. James said they will receive a journal to reflect on the Bible study and a song book to follow along with the songs on video, among other supplies, prior to their week at camp. They will also interact with pre-recorded videos throughout the day. This includes a morning devotion, three hands-on activities, and various songs (a lunch grace, a silly song, and a serious song). They will also participate in an afternoon or evening discussion through a secure video chat with camp counselors and other campers in their age bracket for Bible study discussion. Each day will conclude with a campfire video.
Among those who will lead the Camp@Home experience are Amy Mullins, who is the Spring Heights camp manager, and the camp’s summer staff. The summer staff this year includes Gavin Brandenburg, Sarah Wilmoth, Shawna Stanley, Louisa Smith, and Megan DiLorenzo.
“Our hope is that Camp@Home will be a catalyst for deepening family faith conversations and growing disciples of Jesus Christ,” James said.
That will be done through Camp@Home’s theme of prayer.
“Campers will learn that there are many different ways to pray,” James said. “You can pray with more than just your eyes closed and your head bowed.”
There will be activities focused on the theme of learning how to pray. Campers will have the opportunity to interact with a prayer labyrinth and make prayer beads as a way to learn about different forms of prayer.
The cost for Camp@Home is free, however a $50 donation is suggested to help Spring Heights through this time of no in-person camps. For more information, call 304-927-5865 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration information can be found at www.springheights.org.