Imagine pulling into the local United Methodist church in your neck of the woods (or city).
As you turn into your typical parking spot, something catches your eye. Either that’s the biggest squirrel you’ve ever seen or there’s a kid 25 feet up in that tree!
Further scanning reveals a helmet, a harness, a rope, and a team of belayers below shouting up words of encouragement. Just then something soars in and out of your peripheral vision and “Whap!” You turn to look down that ever-empty alleyway by the church and see archery targets and a counselor high-fiving a camper who just struck her first bullseye.
That patch of grass by the old chapel? Eight kids and their counselors are playing parachute.
The picnic table outside the pastor’s office? A living group is reading a bible story in the shade.
A couple hours earlier everyone had gathered there for a morning chapel service. A few hours later the campers will head home to rest up for tomorrow. By Friday campers will have learned more about God’s love, working together as a team, and trying new things. And while the campers might correctly call what they experienced “fun,” or “friendship,” or even “family,” their counselors know it as a unique blend of the three: Christian community. That’s the hope and power of camp ministry on the go.
Last Summer North Georgia Camp and Retreat Ministries ran 15 Grow Day Camps in churches spanning nine districts. Plans are in the works to expand that to 32 churches in 2014.
"Our goal was to fill the camp with children from our own cogregation (and other congreations in the community) as well as reach out to those in the community that would not otherwise be able to attend camp," said Kirsten Vardy of Trinity UMC in Rome. "It was wonderful to see our playground filled with children that were learning how much Jesus loves them by a staff that was so attentive and caring."
What started in 2008 with a single site, the Day Camp program graduated in 2013 from a Glisson pilot program to a stand-alone sibiling ministry. Grow brings the flavor of summer camp to the local church in a partnership to nurture Christian discipleship.
To learn more about Grow Day Camps, visit www.growsomewhere.org.
Read about Grow Day Camp councselor Reid Hansen's experience in this Monday Morning in North Georgia devotional: http://www.ngumc.org/enewsletterarchives/detail/729.