Connecting through Day Camp
After attending SpringHill Day camp this past summer, more than 100 children made decisions to follow Christ. Many of their families now come to worship at the church that sponsored the camp—the Beecher, Illinois, campus of Faith Church (RCA) in Dyer, Indiana.
The camp has allowed Faith Beecher to build a bridge to the community, especially the junior high school next door.
The church’s relationship with Beecher Junior High developed naturally since many people in the congregation are connected to the school: teachers, coaches, a custodian, the principal’s administrative assistant, former school board members, and many students.
“SpringHill Day Camp 2013 was held at our facility, right next door to the junior high school,” says pastor Nathan Prairie. With 115 children, the facility was maxed out. They decided to approach school staff to see if they’d be willing to let the church rent space for a week of camp. “They saw the value for the greater community and gave us full use of their facility free of charge,” says Prairie.
Now that the camp could accommodate more kids, the congregation expanded its promotion of the camp. “Because many people commute to worship from other rural towns, we also asked the elementary schools of other nearby towns to distribute SpringHill Day Camp flyers. They agreed to send them home with the kids.”
The 2014 SpringHill Day Camp was held for one week in June, Monday through Friday, from nine to four, “a huge convenience for working parents,” says Prairie. It was attended by 157 kids who had completed kindergarten through fourth grade, with more than 80 percent of them coming from outside the congregation. The cost to attend camp was $169 per child, and Prairie says the Faith Beecher family contributed enough money for scholarships for half of the children.
Camp activities included a rock climbing wall, rope ladder, rope net, giant swing, water slide, paintball, archery, reverse bungee jump, tight rope, tie-dyeing, and lots more.
Through large-group skits, singing and dancing, and age-related small groups featuring Bible stories and testimony, children learned what having a relationship with Jesus looks like. “Bible verse memorization and learning how to pray were also key parts of those times in small group,” says Prairie.
“The camp was a great opportunity to evangelize, but also to develop as a church in the area of discipleship. It has been our goal to reach outside the walls of the church, intentionally serving the families of Beecher and surrounding communities with the love of Jesus, revealing that he is the reason for life. I couldn’t be more thankful for the way people pooled their time, talent, and financial resources.
“Lord willing, 2015 will be our third year of SpringHill Day Camp in Beecher.
“It is our prayer that as the local church, we do all we can to build trust and relationship with these children so their decisions mature towards a lifestyle of following Christ.”