Back in June we posted a blog about spiritually connecting with your camper after their week at summer camp. There was such a positive response that we thought we'd do another post on the same topic! This time however, with the hope to take what God has done in the summer months back into the school year, so the spiritual growth doesn't stop when school bells, homework, and athletic schedules begin.
Over the course of the summer, our campers, counselors, and senior staff experience God in ways they never fathomed. Prayers answered, eyes opened, hearts enlightened to the hope of Christ never before experienced. When summer's end nears, the conversation we have with staff is how to maintain that growth over the school year. The fear we hear over and over is that what they felt and learned and experienced so deeply here at camp will dissipate as soon as they get back into their school schedule in the fall. They desperately want to maintain their close relationship with God and fear that busyness and distractions will wear on their growth and heart change. Maybe you've experienced this, too? A season of growth with the Lord, a mountain top experience if you will, that slowly fades into a valley as the rhythms of regular life become loud and hectic. Maybe you've had an amazing summer and really connected with your kids. You picked them up from summer camp, asked some pointed questions and it opened the door to openly talking about faith together, and you fear that the looming school year will take away that connection. We sat down with some dear friends of Camp Allen and comprised a list of action points that can take those summer seeds and sow them deep and wide during the school year:
- Summer is special for many reasons, but one huge reason is time. There is so much more free time in the summer that the normal schedule and hence, normal priorities, get jumbled around. During fall and spring, homework and athletics tend to dominate priorities for our kids, but during summer, with those two things removed or significantly lessened, there is time for new things to float to the top of the priorities list. Summer camp, mission trips, family vacations, neighborhood cook-outs, you name it. Summer activities tend to focus more on spending time with people and a lot of times on faith. The first step to protecting the spiritual seeds sown during summer is to find and fiercely defend time in normal life for faith and family. Maybe integrate a family bible study each week to continue having spiritual conversations with one another. Join a small group at church. Have a weekly memory verse that you memorize together during carpool. For the last ten minutes of each evening, after homework and baths, have a quick family meeting to pray together and read a few verses of scripture before bed. Find simple ways to integrate faith into your daily life so that over time, they become a part of your normal rhythm. Creativity is key and there's no wrong way to do it!
- Before school starts, have a family dinner where you all write down what God did this summer. Share stories about summer camp, family vacation, etc. Make a list of the things God did and leave them in a place for everyone to see and remember. Then, make a list of things you all want to pray about and focus on throughout the school year. As the year progresses, keep meeting together to talk about how God is working to answer those prayers and what new things He is doing in everyone's life.
- Set aside weekends to connect. This one might be the hardest because life can be so demanding and hectic, but creating space in our schedules to "be still and know He is God" might be the best thing we do all year! Mark a few weekends of the year as "staycations" or "family getaways" specifically set apart to enable you all to connect away from the busyness of regular schedules. We even have several weekends here at Camp Allen in the fall and spring designed for families to do just that!