Camp’s Role in Faith Formation
As leaders within the community, faith-based camps have always played a significant role in the spiritual life of our youth. Summer programming is often a place where children can feel connected to their spirituality and others who share similar beliefs, but once the summer ends and campers return to their everyday lives, what is being done to continue their spiritual development year-round?
Changes in Religious Affiliation
Places of worship have seen a steady decline in membership since the beginning of the 21st century. According to Gallup, “the decline in membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.”
With these changes taking place throughout the United States, it is getting harder for religious establishments to connect with younger generations, and as a result, their spiritual growth is suffering.
A Camps Impact on Faith
Camps have the unique opportunity to reach youth in a way that others cannot. The relationships that campers build with staff and peers, and the core memories that are formed throughout their stay, have a significant impact on their development. Having this type of influence is not only a great honor, but also an important responsibility.
However, as soon as most campers wave goodbye to their friends and drive away, the spiritual development stops. Unless these campers have a strong faith-based relationship with their caregivers or religious organizations, many of them don’t have any other spiritual influences.
So, what can be done to ensure that a camp’s role in faith formation is a year-round priority?
It all begins with a change in mindset! If we stop looking at summer as our only opportunity to reach the youth we are working with, we can start making plans to impact their lives outside of the camp season. The first step is to start planning for consistent outreach throughout the year, but…
This is where we need your help!
This could be an area of growth and opportunity for many faith-based camps, and we want to know what your organization does to take responsibility for the spiritual growth of your campers during the retreat season.
We would like to know:
- Organizations that are excelling in this area?
- What is working well for them?
- What hasn’t worked in the past?
- Words of advice that you would give other organizations looking to improve in this area?
- Personal experiences that you have that could contribute to this discussion?
We want you to be part of this conversation so that we can truly help others make a difference in the spiritual lives of our youth. To join the convo, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your strategies or tips. Then, be on the lookout for the next part of this blog where we share all of the effective information we have gathered!