By: Amanda Willis
If you’re a parent, chances are good that you can relate to at least one of these alarming statistics (which came from a recent survey conducted by the Nature Conservancy):
• 65 percent of U.S. parents see it as a serious problem that kids are not spending more time in nature—equal to their concerns about bullying, quality education, and obesity.
• 82 percent of U.S. parents view spending time in nature as very important to their children’s development—second only to reading as a priority.
• Homework is the No. 1 obstacle to getting outside for kids in the U.S.
Do any of those ring true for you? If so, there are ways to help your children enjoy the great outdoors.
Camp Minnesota’s three primary camps—Northern Pines, Koronis, and Kowakan—offer all children, youth, families, and adults a chance to escape everyday life and connect with nature and God in a unique way.
“Camp allows kids, youth, and adults the opportunity to get away, to have an intimate experience with God,” says Josh Jirasek, program director for Koronis and Kowakan. “At camp, kids get roughly the same amount of exposure and Bible teaching hours in one week as they do in a whole school year of Sunday School.”
“I have seen so many lives changed at camp, and God does amazing things here,” he says. “I have witnessed campers show up, and on Monday they are mad at the world and want nothing to do with God, and on Friday they are completely changed and on fire for the Lord.”
Here’s a typical day (as shared from the perspective of a typical Northern Pines camper):
7:15 a.m.: Wake up! It’s time to get ready for the busy day ahead.
7:30 a.m.: It’s time for morning devotion with the rest of our cabin mates. The counselor has prepared a special curriculum just for us—this year’s theme is “Finding Your True Self in Jesus.” We’ve had some really meaningful discussions this week that have helped me see and think about God in new ways, and I continue to be amazed and grateful that he died on the cross for ME!
8:00 a.m.: We gather outside the dining hall before breakfast to sing songs, praise God, and say a morning prayer.
8:10 a.m.: There are lots of delicious options for breakfast. Today I chose eggs, toast, potatoes, and orange juice—which hits the spot and gives me fuel for a day of fun.
8:45 a.m.: Breakfast clean-up time! All hands on deck make the work go faster.
9:00 a.m.: Time to head back to the cabin for morning Bible study. We grab the Bibles we brought to camp and read the scripture out loud to each other. The counselor leads us in a discussion and explains the nature hike we’ll take while relating it back to the scripture.
9:45 a.m.: Time for the first activity! We walk as a group to the all-camp meeting spot. From there, we divide up into our small activity groups. The first activity I selected is archery. One of the coolest things about camp this year is that we got to pick a few of our favorite activities (from a really long list!) right after we arrived–and every day, I spend time doing each of the ones I chose. Archery was new to me, but I’m getting better at it every day.
10:45 a.m.:I picked art as my second activity for the day. Off we go to the arts and crafts building. Today we’re going to paint! I’m thinking I will paint the lake and trees that I get to see and enjoy each day I’m at camp.
11:45 a.m.: I’m getting hungry. It must be time for lunch! But first, we all gather to sing and pray before digging in. All of the meals I eat here are nutritious and different from each other.
12:30 p.m.: It’s time for a rest, or as we call it “flat-on-your-back” time. An hour of quiet goes a long way to recharge us for the rest of the day—plus, I need time to update my daily activity log.
1:30 p.m.: Off to the lake. There are so many things to do at Fishhook Lake! We can swim, canoe, paddleboard, paddleboat, water trampoline, and ski. Everyone took a swim test on the first day, and we all swim with a buddy for safety. Of course, there are always lifeguards on duty too.
4:30 p.m.: We hit the hot showers after a long afternoon at the lake—but only after stopping by the camp store for a cold drink and a healthy snack.
6:00 p.m.: We gather for the last big meal of the day: dinner. There are so many options that it’s hard to decide what to eat—and there is always a full salad bar in addition to main dishes.
6:50 p.m.: The second Bible study of the day really brings together everything we’ve talked about so far—and it makes me think about how God is at work in my life. Today, we discussed how Jesus calls us friends; he shows us a model of real friendship that helps us be friends to others.
7:45 p.m.: Everyone comes together to worship around a big campfire. We sing, pray, and listen to one another. And what campfire is complete without a s’more? After the worship, we take turns making our evening snack.
9:45 p.m.: I’m exhausted, and it’s time for bed. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Before falling asleep, we listen to a story read by our counselor.
10:00 p.m.: ZZZZZzzzzzzz
7:15 a.m.: Rise and shine! It’s a new day, and a new adventure at camp.
Camp Minnesota offers an opportunity for children to share and learn about Christ and creation. Registration is still open. Don’t miss out!
Amanda Willis is communications associate for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church