Family vacations are highly anticipated events in most homes. Much planning goes into the location, time, and funding for a trip for a week or two to some location away from home. Sometimes, the family vacation is an excursion to Disney World or a cruise to the islands. Sometimes it is a highly anticipated trip to the beach or a mountain lake where boating and skiing are the main activities. Sometimes, the family plans to rough it in a tent or rents an RV to see the country. (See the movie RV first.) But have you considered the possibility of a week at a camp where the shelter is simple, the meals are provided, and there are plenty of activities for the family members to do together or individually.
Family camp has been part of my experience for many, many years . When I was a young person, our family went to camp,. When my husband and I were new parents, we took our children to camp. As they grew older, we attended family camps each summer, sometimes twice in a summer. To be honest, my husband was the main speaker at family camp many of those weeks, but even if he was, we took a trip to another family camp and enjoyed the experience there as well.
My children have fond memories of family camp. When my husband and I took our first two children to family camp, we were stranded on the island because of the heavy rains. What memories we made that year! My children rode their bikes, rafted, ziplined, shot skeet, and participated in many other activities. At thirteen, my oldest son caught a large mouth bass at Camp Peniel that was enormous. It’s mounted on the wall in his home. My daughter established a friendship at camp with a young man who many years later became her husband. From the time my son was eight years old, he and the girl who eventually became his wife, established a life-long friendship that grew into a marvelous love relationship. My children forged friendships with young people like themselves at camps that we visited and even worked together with some of those same friends at camp in the kitchen or in housekeeping.
Family camp is a safe environment where the children can run, play games, swim, raft, canoe, fish, horseback ride, zip line, and a host of other activities that a camp may offer. The parents can engage in tournaments like Scrabble, volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, bocce ball, and many other games…or sit on the porch or by the lake and read. Adults converse with other adults and find common bonds through their similar experiences.
Most family camps have a spiritual emphasis. A special speaker brings a series of messages that encourage Chrisitan grown and spiritual encouragement. The children meet with counselors who engage them in a time of Bible study.
No, family camp is not the Hilton…or the Hampton Inn …or in some cases, not even…Motel Six, light or no light. The camp may not have air conditioning or television in every room, but the investment in a time of rest, relaxation, and spiritual benefit are well worth the time, energy, and expense.
Some of the family camps that I have attended or know of are: New Life Island in Frenchtown, NJ; Camp Peniel in Fredericktown, OH; Camp Pamadeva in Hanover, PA (now Penn Grove Retreat); High Point Camp, Geigertown, PA; Tri-State Bible Camp in Montague, NJ; the Wilds in Asheville, NC. In each of the camps that we have visited, my family and I have enjoyed good experiences that created fun family memories and spiritual challenges.
I challenge you to consider camp as an alternative to a high-paced expensive, emotionally and physically draining vacation and take your family to a family camp. They are not perfect places, but they will bring you all together…at least for a little while.