More Great Ideas I’m Borrowing From The Pentecostals

Tony SigFrom middle school through my senior year of high school, one of the highlights of my year was getting away from my parents for five days every Summer. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have strong camp programs, Spencer Lake and Lake Geneva respectively. These were where I could eat junk food, flirt with girls, screw around with my pals, get “blobbed,” and have rather intense ecstatic experiences in the nightly worship services. It’s where I first felt a call to ministry, and it helped give needed “high spots” in my spiritual life.

In short, I treasure(d) my time at camp. The annual Youth Conference was alright, but never like camp.

Additionally, I realize now that it helped to make me feel an affinity for my “diocese.” Over the years I made reasonably good friends from all over the state. We’d meet up at camp and conference, and exchange correspondence; sometimes we’d even go to each other’s houses. It was from one of these friends that I first heard DC Talk (the Nu Thang record); it was here that I first got wind of the punk and hardrock off Tooth & Nail records — back before they sold out, yo. I came to perceive that I was part of this thing called the Assemblies of God. I had friends here, I felt connected.

Now I realize that many Episcopal parishes do camps in the summer. But in my experience, these have mostly been done on a parish by parish basis and only sometimes together, and even then rarely more than a small handful of them. But imagine, if you will, a set Episcopalian campground where not only could there be larger annual 5 day camps for youth and families (we often did Family Camp as well), but the grounds could host all kinds of smaller parish and larger diocene sized events. In my experience, it becomes something like a “spiritual hub.”

Anyway, it seems to me that there could be a lot of good done for the health of a diocese if they had such a camp. At the very least, they did a lot for me as a kid.

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15 Comments

  1. I had really good camp experiences as well.

    Bishop Prior is also a big fan of camp. Last I heard he was looking into making a Diocesan campground that was more accessible. I hope that something comes to fruition.

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  2. A side note . . .
    I still have strange misgivings about the utter collapse of ‘good’ Christian music from that era. I am of course not talking about DC Talk though it may have been a gateway drug to early Zao.

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  3. Evangelicals do a lot of camp stuff, though I never cared for it–group activities, socializing, sports, camp food, allergies, bleh.

    What’s really needed is for each diocese to run it’s own Minecraft server.

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      1. The kind of people who start minecraft servers rarely go outside.

        Seriously, though, I’ve often wondered at the lack of interaction at the diocesan level. That larger community is one of the things that brought me to the Episcopal Church in the first place, but most Episcopalians I’ve met seem uninterested in the Diocese (and especially the Communion.)

        Reply

  4. Ahh, camp. Some of my best and worst experiences as an AG youth were there.

    The Diocese of the Rio Grande has a camp; strongly attended are the annual or biannual Narnia Camp, and Harry Potter Camp. Ours is also the only campground I know of where each camper is provided with bookshelf space.

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  5. Hi fellas,
    As the person who programs youth camping for the diocese of Arizona, I can tell you that we have done just what you are advocating for the last 4 summers: We took a group of evangelicals that were frustrated that the really great Young Life evangelism camps didn’t have an equivalent discipleship experience and added their fun and proclamation skills to our camps existing liturgy, contemplation and team building and created a phenomenal camp experience at Chapel Rock. Camper reviews are off the charts. It builds kids identities as Episcopalian Christians, deepens their faith, and a pile of the evangelicals are now Episcopalians and have been really blessed by being a part of us.

    Reply

      1. It is owned by the diocese and staffed by a combination of the camp staff and the diocese full time youth ministers team. Program designed by the youth ministers. Bishops support certainly helps but the clarity of vision, spiritual passion, talent and ethnic diversity of the camp staff are where the power comes from. We have a great 6 strand program that I can share if anyone wants details. Really excellent music (rock, chant, hip/hop, hymns) and speakers, faithful to the prayer book…both lifelong episcopalians and newby evangelicals come and say, “Wow, I had no idea liturgy could be so powerful for high school kids.”

        Reply

  6. Summer camp has a very special place in my heart as well. It was a few weeks for me to get away from fighting parents who spent their rent away on drugs and alcohol and just be a kid. The “christian” side of it was good too, although there wasn’t much substance to the themes of the weeks and daily devotionals.

    Reply

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