How it all began
It was only half way through the summer and my three little kids were wearing out babysitters right and left. Meanwhile I was sitting in at church in our band new empty gym thinking to myself, “what’s wrong with this picture?” I loved my new job at our church, but my home felt like a cage for wild animals enduring the summer. Worse than that there was a revolving door of babysitters, TV and every “chore” I could come up with to keep them busy while I was away from home. I felt like a crazy woman trying to work and field the “I’m bored” phone calls from my kids, or worse, the “I can’t come tomorrow” calls from my teenage babysitters.
Out of desperation, I began imagining the empty church buildings filled with children, singing songs, playing games, laughter, learning and serving together. I was thinking about something more in-depth that Vacation Bible School (VBS). I fantasized about teenagers who wanted to do more than babysit bored children; teenagers who wanted to talk about their faith in God to my children, who felt it was a privilege to serve families over the summer. I wondered if there were youth like that. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I was defiantly the mother who needed an affordable, caring oasis in the middle of the long, hot summer. Was I the only parent experiencing “summer crisis?”
Camp Hope Today
For over twenty years, Camp Hope Ministries has designed, practiced, refined and unleashed one of the finest day camp ministries in our country. Today thousands of children (and parents) have a safe, caring experience where teenagers and young adults exercise their leadership gifts and children grow in their faith.
As it turns out, as effective as Camp Hope is in providing for the needs of children and families during the summer, it has been exceptional at growing youth and young adults Christian servant leaders and expanding the congregation’s influence in the neighborhood.
Camp Hope is NOT…
Camp Hope is NOT a new version of VBS. They are two valuable, distinct ministries that serve different purposes. Many congregations do both. Camp Hope is also NOT a traveling day camp. The staff and campers are from the neighborhood and every Sunday is a reunion. Camp Hope is NOT a program. It is a place for all ages to practice servant leadership as a way of life, a place to experience Christian community that connects deeply to the family and finally a place to claim Bible stories as our own story.
For most congregations and most adults familiar with volunteer or committee work in the church, Camp Hope is just not normal. There is a letting go that can create huge anxiety among the control and order agents of the community. However, if they actually do contract with the next generation by moving into a real partnership as mentors for these young people, these adults are re-connected with their own sense of call and renewed by emerging leadership in the congregation.
Hosting Camp Hope will change your congregation and affect family life! Once you have unleashed the gifts of youth over the summer, you cannot put them back in the box when school starts. You will enter into a new way of ministry.
Questions or want more information? Contact us!