Building a Stronger Faith: How Christian Summer Camp Can Nurture Your Child's Spiritual Journey

In today's fast-paced, increasingly secular world, parents face the challenge of nurturing a strong spiritual foundation for their children. With church attendance on the decline (or with regular church attendance now below 50% for the first time in recorded history) and the pervasive influence of social media, it's more crucial than ever to actively foster/develop our children's spiritual development. It's vital to help them discover a sense of purpose that unplugs them from digital distractions and plugs them into a deeper connection with Jesus. Christian summer camp programs, like those offered here at RVR, can be a powerful tool for spiritual growth where children can detach from the digital world and take a fresh look at their faith. Immersed in God’s creation, supported by positive Christian role models, and surrounded by peers on similar spiritual journeys, camp provides an ideal setting for genuinely exploring faith, engaging in meaningful face to face conversations, and experiencing a closer connection with God.

Here are some ways that camp nurtures your child's spiritual journey. I’ve included some quotes from RVR parents last summer that speak to how their child experienced these elements of spiritual formation at camp:

1. Faith-Based Activities and Programs

camp worship service

Many Christian summer camps provide a range of activities aimed at engaging children and deepening their faith understanding. These include:

  • Worship Services: These are opportunities for children to participate in lively worship songs, listen to inspiring messages from the Bible, and experience communal worship with other kids their age.
  • Small Group Discussions: A place where kids can open up and share their thoughts and feelings about their faith in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Daily Reflection: This is a dedicated time each evening, led by the counselor, where children can discuss and reflect on what they've learned throughout the day.

Experiencing their faith in a new and relevant way through elements like this can be a wonderful catalyst for spiritual growth.

What Parents Are Saying:

“The connection to Christian values and scriptures at RVR was not only fun but life-changing for my child."

"Worship services at camp truly inspired my son. He felt part of something larger than himself, which deepened his faith."

"The small group discussions provided a safe space for my daughter to express her faith journey and learn from others."

2. Positive Role Models

summer camp counselor role models

As our children get older, our influence as parents declines. How do we still influence them? By finding other adults who share our Christian values who can relate to our children, but in a more relevant way. At camp, counselors are more than just activity leaders; they are also mentors and role models who can guide children in their spiritual development. By demonstrating authentic faith, compassion, and relatability, counselors are uniquely equipped to positively influence your child’s spiritual journey.

What Parents Are Saying:

"The counselors were extremely supportive and served as wonderful role models, which I am truly thankful for."

"The counselors really helped my daughter feel at ease being away from home for the first time."

"It's comforting to know my child was under the guidance of young adults who are seeking to authentically live out their faith."

3. Connection with God’s Creation

camper interacting with a horse

A 2017 study revealed a surprising fact: inmates in maximum security prisons often spend more time outdoors than the average child. This revelation even surprised the prisoners themselves. You can read about this study here.

In today's world, where children's lives are predominantly spent indoors, often in front of screens, the significance of time spent in nature becomes even more profound. Being immersed in the natural world, amidst the splendor and beauty of God's creation, facilitates a connection to something greater than ourselves. This immersion can deepen our appreciation for God and His creation.

Reflecting on the words of Paul in Romans, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse," we understand the importance of experiencing God through His creation. Christian summer camps offer a unique opportunity for children to witness and engage with the wonders of our Creator through experiencing “life to the fullest” in His creation.

What Parents Are Saying:

"My daughter loves being technology free and having fun outdoors with her friends."

"Being outdoors and away from the city, my son said he felt closer to God than ever before."

4. Authentic and Loving Community

making friends at summer camp

Camp offers a unique sense of belonging and community, crucial in today's often isolated world. Here, children are not only surrounded by peers sharing similar values and beliefs, but also by mature, positive Christian role models, like camp counselors. These counselors significantly enhance the campers' experience, providing guidance and exemplifying how to live out their faith. In this supportive and accepting environment, children feel safe to explore and grow spiritually…and we see it happen every week!

What Parents Are Saying:

“The authentic and loving community my child found at RVR was so good for her spiritual growth."

"RVR's sense of belonging made a huge impact. My daughter felt part of a community where her Christian faith is celebrated."

"The community at RVR provided not just friends, but a spiritual family for my child."

"My daughter loves the friendships made while at camp."

5. Opportunities for Reflection and Personal Growth

happy male camper climbing challenge course

While camp can be wild and crazy at times, it’s the quiet moments at camp, away from the business of daily life, that provide children with the opportunity for reflection and introspection. This can be a time for them to think about their faith, their values, and their place in the world. This self-discovery can lead to a stronger sense of self and a deeper understanding of their faith.

What Parents Are Saying:

"The quiet moments for introspection at camp helped my child think deeply about his faith and values."

"The daily small groups led by counselors helped my daughter see her spiritual journey in a new light."

"RVR meets the needs of each kid. Both my kids have very different personalities, and the staff always meet them where they are at. They also challenge them to try new things which I love."

6. Lasting Impact

female summer camp counselor with camper

The experiences children have at camp can have a lasting impact on their lives. The lessons they learn, the friendships they make, and the sense of connection they feel with God can stay with them long after they leave camp. These experiences can shape their values, guide their decisions, and inspire them to live a life of faith into their adult life.

If you're looking for a place where your child can unplug from the digital noise and plug into a deeper, more meaningful spiritual experience, RVR may be the perfect fit. This summer, consider giving your child the gift of an RVR Christian summer camp experience, where they can explore their faith, form lasting friendships, and grow in ways that will shape their character for years to come.

What Parents Are Saying:

"We absolutely love RVR… They make everything super easy and welcoming, and my daughter has the best time of her life."

Jon Bisset

Jon is RVR's Executive Director and President of Peter & John Ministries. He brings a lifetime of experience to Christian camping and ministry.more