Youth Ministry’s Rustic Blessings, Part I

The Oxford English Dictionary is meticulous about defining the word “camp” from the perspectives of noun and verb. According to Oxford, camp, as a noun, is a “temporary overnight lodging out of doors, typically in tents.” As a verb, to camp is to “live for a time in a camp, tent, or camper, as when on vacation” or to “lodge temporarily, especially in an inappropriate or uncomfortable place.”

In perusing these definitions, I am drawn to reminisce on a first-camping memory that ever lingers with me. I was just about 10 years young and allowed to go solo on a camping trip with my church group (Moriah church). I remember—like it was yesterday—our arrival at a small camp site off the Linden Highway in Guyana.

Beyond the delight of the journey, etched in my mind was the thrill of outdoor worship, sleeping under the stars, using flashlights at night, overcoming my trepidation of the dark, bathing/swimming in the creek, fire building/outdoor cookery, and accepting that adults who often looked all uptight at church were fun-loving in the outdoors. Furthermore, I can recall that, thereafter, I owned and embraced my walk with Jesus, as well as my weekly church fellowship like never before. In many ways this is attributable to that very first camping experience.

Atlantic Union Adventist Youth Ministries Camp Season
Welcome to camping season 2019! Whether a local/ area Pathfinder camporee, the 2019 Chosen International Camporee, Adventurer camp, Master Guide camp, junior camp, tween camp, teen camp, singles camp, family camp, blind camp, young adult camp, outdoor school, camp meeting, or AACP retreat, all roads are aligned to lead the Atlantic Union’s youth-ministry vehicle to a variety of camping experiences across late spring, summer, and early fall 2019. It would seem as though there is an innate response to the impending warm weather, i.e., incessant celebrations of the outdoors; and celebrations of God’s creation.

In the book, LifeSketches, Ellen G. White states that “We need no fanciful teaching regarding the personality of God. What God desires us to know of Him is revealed in His word and His works. The beautiful things of nature reveal His character and His power as Creator” (p. 94).

Many often wonder where to camp, and I am excited to declare that the Atlantic Union presents a plethora of options. Across its geographic jurisdiction, five local conferences operate campgrounds that provide extensive camp ministry experiences for all:

New York Conference: Camp Cherokee
Northern New England Conference: Camp Lawroweld
Northeastern Conference: Camp Victory Lake
Southern New England Conference: Camp Winnekeag
Greater New York Conference: Camp Berkshire*

I look forward to exploring each campground’s summer schedule, and aligning with the multitude of blessings that currently lie dormant.

Ultimately, one of the principal blessings of camp ministry is the reminder that we are all “camping” in this world. Thus, it’s tolerable for life to, at times, be “uncomfortable.” Life here is for “overnight” purposes; and the “lodging” in this world is temporary. Today, all are called to prepare, plan, and pack for camp with the assurance that Jesus is coming again to escort us to our permanent home.

David McKenzie is the director for Youth, Young Adult, Pathfinder, and Adventurer ministries in the Atlantic Union Conference.

*Camp Berkshire: No summer camps are currently available. However, they do hold camp meetings and other activities.

This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 7.