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Finding the best camp for your children

Bob Kobielush

With the days getting longer and warmer, the thought of giving your children a summer camp experience skips through your mind. You remember your own summers at church camp. Have the activities changed? What kind of food is served? Where do kids sleep? What about supervision?

With increased professionalism in the camping industry, most of the former worries can be set aside. Camp is better than ever in 2006. But if you’re serious about this, you’ll need to answer some questions—and quickly, because many camps fill up far in advance.

Q: Should I choose a day camp or resident camp?

A: If your children are first-timers or have evenings committed, day camp is a good option. A Christian day camp is like an outdoor vacation Bible school with lots of invigorating activities. A resident camp immerses youth in the temporary community, which is key in spiritual growth and development. The evening hours, with chapel, campfires, and cabin time, can be some of the most memorable of the experience.

Q: Is a single-gender camp better than a co-ed one?

A: A camp for boys only or girls only can specialize in programming that is of keen interest to that gender. Participants—particularly those approaching puberty—can involve themselves with their activities and role models without being distracted (or allured) by the opposite sex. Older campers, on the other hand, will be just as interested in the opposite sex as they are in the zip line. This is fine, because the setting and supervision at camp makes it a great place to learn how to build appropriate, God-honoring relationships.

Q: Do I want a specialty camp or a traditional camp?

A: If your children have shown a strong interest in something, then finding a camp where they can explore that interest is a great idea. For example, there are Christian equestrian, sport, and music camps where kids can develop and perfect skills. A traditional camp gives a balanced approach, allowing campers to sample a little bit of everything and possibly find an area of interest.

You have lots of factors to consider, but thanks to the Internet, finding the right place won’t take long. Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA) makes the process simple with its free, searchable online database of more than 1,000 camps. Click here search by location, recreational facilities, accommodations, special needs, and more. You’ll find contact and location information and a link to each camp’s website. Contact potential camps to ask for a brochure. You should also tour the facilities and meet the director.

Remember, the right Christian camp is the one where your child has fun and makes a life-changing decision or grows in his or her faith. Thousands of kids experience this each year—yours can, too.

Bob has served as president of CCCA since 1990. Previously, Bob, who holds a master’s of divinity degree, owned a management consulting firm. He also spent 10 years as executive director of camping and youth for the Minnesota Baptist Conference.

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