By Jim Sparks–
Like so many others, my heart sank when it was announced that camps across the territory would be canceled this summer. Losing the camp ministry for the summer is like losing part of our territory’s soul. Thousands of our corps members and friends reference an encounter with Christ that led to their conversion or rededication to their relationship with Christ at camp. It’s also where we met our best friends and for some—who am I kidding, many—where they met their spouse.
Camp is called home to so many. Home because it’s holy ground where you can always find community no matter the time of the year you visit. When I lived at camp, it was common for visitors to show up just to walk around. Inevitably, we would engage in conversation and find some sort of link between us. It’s simply a place where you can always find community.
So what are we going to do without it this summer?
While we can’t come close to replicating the camp experience, we can take the foundations of camp and implement them where we are.
First, build community. Whether you are a camper or staff member it’s the community that makes the experience so good. There is always someone to hang out with. There is always someone to have a laugh with. There is always someone there to pray with. There is always someone there to offer a hand of help. So, let’s be that in our own communities.
Visit with your neighbors and corps members. Offer your help to people. Offer prayer in their time of need. Send them fun packs in the mail and if possible, make them sing “grey squirrel.” You might be even so bold as to serve late night nachos (an Army favorite, for some reason) to the complex or cul de sac. Nothing builds community faster than food.
Second, have fun. Camp is fun. Think of creative ways to build fun into your community. It could be as simple as inviting someone to go on your favorite hike or it could be as bold as moving your backyard fire pit to your driveway and putting on a traditional campfire night with your neighbors—all at a safe social distance, of course. Think about how fun it would be to see your neighbor do the “funky chicken.” No matter the activity, invite others to join you. It’s good for our souls, especially right now.
Finally, spread the Good News. Camp is the place that taught me how to spread the Good News. It was a place that gave me confidence and practice in doing so. Admittedly, it seems to be easier in that space, but Scripture tells us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. We’re not limited to spreading the Good News at camp or in our buildings. Be bold and share the gospel in your community.
The recent past and the months ahead are unlike anything we have ever experienced. I can’t think of a better time to be builders of community who help, have fun, and pray with each other.
Let’s all be part of the biggest camp outreach staff ever.
HOW TO HELP:
- If you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here to make a gift.
- Text ‘GIVE’ to 52000 to make a $10 donation to The Salvation Army. This will automatically add a one-time donation to your next mobile phone bill.
- For information about volunteering, please visit volunteer.usawest.org.
- To learn more about how to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, please click here.