Camp ministry has been a big part of my life for the last fifteen years. I’ve primarily been connected to CentriKid Camps, one of Lifeway’s summer camps for second through sixth grade, where I have served as a camp staffer, camp director, camp pastor, and coordinator on the full-time team.
As such, camp ministry has also been a big part of our family life. My wife and I met through mutual camp friends. We went on our first date only days before camp started in May, and we went on our second date in August when camp ended. I served one summer at camp while we were simultaneously planning a wedding, and I even spent one summer directing camps after we were married (with frequent visits from my bride, of course).
The next summer, we brought our three-week-old son to camp to experience O-M-C (organized mass chaos, CentriKid’s camp-wide relay game). Of course, we stood on the edge of the field, covering our son with a massive umbrella to protect him from the sun, water, and shaving cream! There’s no doubt about it—we are a camp family, through and through.
Prayer has always been an important part of preparation for camp. Our team prays together diligently throughout the year for all aspects of camp, and I have prayed many fervent prayers for myself as I prepare to lead, for the adults who lead their groups, for the camp staff who serve so faithfully and tirelessly, and for the kids I will encounter.
About two years ago, though, something happened, and it subtly shifted and deepened the way I pray regarding camp. You see, over the years, our family continued to grow. We now have three young kids, a son and two daughters. Our son had finally reached the age when he was ready to attend camp himself! It was a big moment of celebration in our household.
This summer, our middle daughter is old enough to attend, too, and our youngest will make a few shorter visits. In the past, when I prayed for campers, I would envision groups of young kids with faces that were unfamiliar to me. I would pray with excitement and expectation, knowing and trusting that God would work in the lives of these boys and girls through the ministry of camp, and that at the end of a week spent together, we would no longer be strangers.
Now, though, when I pray, I still envision a group of campers, mostly unfamiliar, but among those faces, a few stand out as near and dear. I still pray with excitement and expectation, but I also pray with deep groanings, asking God to reveal Himself to my own children and to pull them closer and deeper in relationship with Jesus.
In the past, I was always careful not to show favoritism toward any particular camper, but now, I can say definitively that I have three favorites. If you are a parent who is sending kids or students to camp this summer, I’m sure the same is true for you. No one loves and cares for your kids like you, so no one should pray for your kids more than you.
We have seen firsthand how God has answered our prayers for our children, and so I commit to you the importance and the responsibility of praying earnestly for your kids and students who will attend camp this summer. Here are a few specific ways you might pray for them.
- Pray for safe travel on the way to camp. Also, pray that the conversations, road trip games, and moments of laughter in the vehicles will begin to pave the road for meaningful connections and lifelong friendships.
- Pray for kids and students to have courage and confidence in meeting new people and making new friends.
- Pray for attentive ears and open hearts for your campers as they hear and receive Scripture in their time alone with God, worship, or Bible study.
- Pray for your campers to make good, healthy choices in regard to what they eat and drink, but also that they will enjoy the freedom and fun of exercising some independence in these choices.
- If your child is not yet a follower of Christ, pray for salvation! Ask God to place the right people in your camper’s path who can help guide and point your child to Jesus.
- If your campers are already Christians, pray for God to give them discernment about the next steps they need to take in following Jesus and pray that they will have the courage to take those steps.
- Pray for your campers to have fun!
- Relationships and connections with adults and mentors outside the immediate family are important to a child or student’s spiritual development. Pray that your campers will build relationships with godly adults who will continue to invest in your children even after camp.
- You know your campers better than anyone on earth. Pray specifically about their needs. Then, remember and trust that God knows and loves your campers even more than you. Ask for His work and His will to be accomplished above all else.
The first summer our son attended camp was monumental in his faith journey. Up until that point, he had been somewhat closed off or uninterested in faith. We prayed fervently for God to use the ministry of camp to impact our son, and we saw that prayer answered. God used that week to soften our son’s heart, and we began to see genuine interest and curiosity about the things of God. As we look ahead to this summer, we have committed to continuing in the discipline of praying for all aspects of camp, and also praying for our own children. We invite you to join us.
Want to learn more about what your campers will learn this summer so you can pray more specifically? Check out the links below!
Henry Dutton serves as an event coordinator on the CentriKid Camp team. He and his wife, Amy, have three young children, and live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.