God does some amazing things in the the life of young people at camp. I first started camping as a young boy scout around age 10. with parents going through great difficulties those weekend camping trips made a significant impact on me. I loved getting out in nature, learning survival skills, how to adapt in nature and cooking creatively over open flame. But as I look back, I remember the caring adults who spent time with me during those critical weekends of family chaos. I still have merit pages earned while on those camping trips.
Then, at age 13 I was went to Sooner Youth Camp and God once again placed me exactly where I needed to be. Caring adults, new friends, answering questions, being around people who were on fire for Jesus and sharing Scripture in very practical ways began to take seed in my life. By then, I was the child of single parent, a caring Mom who sacrificed financially for me to go to camp. Every Summer I went back to Dear Ole’ Sooner Youth Camp because of relationships.
This July will make my 44th year since I began camping at Lake Murray. She is in my heart. I refer to SYC as “she” because of the way that this experience has given birth to faith in the lives of young people in profound ways. Faith formation research still has camp as a key faith forming experience for youth.
SYC has less numbers than in previous times for a variety of reasons, but SYC, like many other Christian camps makes a difference. Traditions matter–that which we pass on and each camp has her traditions. What is important is that Christian camping still ranks as a significant factor in the formation of faith in children and teens. Adults too who experience the week.
In a time of expensive camps, air conditioned facilities and lots of camp perks: repelling, horse back riding, etc. SYC remains simple and relatively inexpensive.
Relationships rooted in Jesus Christ, community experience, character building through shared responsibilities and lots of conversation while having fun remains constant as SYC.
Grady D. King