Effective CampThe wisdom of camp, shared throughout decades of learning about God and each other, shows us how effective and impactful faith formation can happen through outdoor ministry experiences when 5 fundamental elements come together uniquely at camp.
Camp wisdom speaks.
Outdoor ministry and the unique settings, experiences, and relationships that form through camp are a critical part of the ecology of Christian faith formation. Evidence is building that camp experiences continue affecting young people long after the last tearful goodbye, and we can build on the success of these experiences in our ministry contexts by knowing the potential impacts and forging connections between camp, congregation, and home. The impacts are clear and recognizable in camps that attend to the 5 fundamental characteristics of Christian camping:
Faith-centered, relational, participatory, safe space, and unplugged from home.
During the summers of 2015-2018, we have surveyed more than 5000 summer campers and 1400 camper parents at 30 camps in 13 states and Canada!
Does camp make a difference? “Yes” always feels like the answer, but do we know? How do we know? This is the question we have sought to answer in the Effective Camp Project.
As of summer 2018, 30 camps across the United States and Canada have participated in this exciting research project. They represent multiple Christian denominations. We survey campers on the first day of camp, the last day of camp, and again 2-3 months after they return home. We also survey camper parents. The resulting data provide a robust picture of the immediate and lasting impacts of the Christian summer camp experience.
Partnership between camps, churches, and faith communities together serves to nurture faith, build character, and strengthen families. We’ve learned qualitatively and quantitatively through the Effective Camp Research Project that camp is a unique space in which 5 fundamental characteristics come together to create deeply impactful faith experiences.
Everyone plays a role in forming faith in and with each other. Whether you are a camp leader, pastor or other ministry professional, a scholar or academic leader, or a parent, we’ve learned some things (and are ever-learning more) that we can take away and apply to our lives and ministries.