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 Post subject: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:35 am 
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I've been thinking about the purpose of Bible Camps and whether they themselves are Scriptural.


First, maybe I should give a little background and confess what has been prompting me to think critically about Bible Camps.


I grew up with a love of camping having camped with my family in the Rockies from pretty much he time I was born. I also attended a Christian Camp a couple of times as a kid. Later, in the military, some of my most memorable experiences were in the field, basically camping in tents.
I am now blessed to live in a place where I can head into the mountains and "get away from it all" pretty much anytime I want. Every year I even look forward to getting out as far away from others as I can, or at least as is practical, and cutting a few cords of firewood.


So I am by no means against camping or the "wilderness experience". It's common, at least around here, for churches to commonly have outings at a lake, and the church I used to attend used to have a men and boys camping trip every year, it was a good time of Christian fellowship.


Maybe different circumstances make Bible camps more or less meaningful. I can imagine the awe someone who has never been out of New York City may have going to a wilderness Bible camp for the first time. I still feel the awe of the mountains, but probably do still take them for granted in some ways that others without the same opportunity to enjoy them may not.


But what has me wondering about dedicated Bible Camps now comes from having left a church that was attended by all the staff of the camp. While there was no official association between the church and the camp otherwise, as Christian ministers and leaders the staff obviously had a lot of influence. The camp has gone from King James, to King James preferred, and today all their doctrinal statement says is that the Bible "without error in the original autographs", the tired old faithless and meaningless statement you see all the time now days.


So when the church was in need of a new pastor, they called one who regularly attends the camp and said that one of his goals for the church was to make more use of the camp. Of course, he is a BJU grad who also believes that the Bible contains errors (actually, he claims to believe that the Bible is divinely preserved, but that God doesn't have to tell us where He hid it, he just knows it's not in the KJV).


Also, having visited other churches in the region looking for a good church, I've found out that the Bible Camp Director has been evasive and deceitful, at the least, with at least one of his supporting churches that still holds to the KJV.


So I have been soured over this particular Bible Camp, but am still left wondering about their true purpose. I also wonder if they're not becoming a big business. They seem to be adding more attractions every year; zip lines, coffee shops (I wonder when they'll get a liquor license).


I see people, including pastors, who seem to think they need to attend camp twice a year or so, along with other conventions, conferences, and such to be encouraged and to remain great men of God.


I think of other nations and people who can't afford the camping experience. Many suffering persecutions. Are they any poorer Christians because they aren't able to head to Bible camps and have their emotional experiences?


I see churches supporting these camps, that seem to be becoming businesses, as "missions" and Bible School kids who go there to work carrying their ESVs as "missionaries". And I wonder if they're not taking money away from real missions that don't happen to be as fun.


Here are a couple of statements that are from Bible Camps:
Quote:
[...], Inc. is a missions-based camping ministry existing to lovingly confront each camper with his or her need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in salvation and to encourage each one to a life of obedience and service to Him, for His glory.
(Note the "Inc.")
Quote:
[...] is a home missions ministry using the unique aspects of the camping ministry to reach young people for the Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen families, and serve local churches. It is a place of decision in the areas of salvation, full surrender, and consistent Christian walk.
The majority of unsaved young people who attend [...] will accept the Lord as their Savior before they leave.
Sixty percent or more of those in full-time service for the Lord today made their decision to surrender to the Lord while at a youth camp or retreat meeting.
Two-thirds or more of young people who come to [...] each week make some type of decision that becomes a stepping stone to spiritual growth in their lives.


God has provided a beautiful location in a genuine wilderness area. Moses, Elijah, the children of Israel, and even Christ Himself were all "graduates" of the wilderness school of faith. We can testify that God is still using the wilderness here to change lives for His service. The rugged beauty of [...]provide an ideal setting for the kind of adventure for which the West is famous. We have found that folks who are thrilled with being in God's creation—whether it be the mountains, the sea, or quiet farmland—will also see the mighty hand of God's creative work in the desert. He has created here a land that is quiet yet alive, endless yet miniature, rugged yet soft, apparently unchangeable yet never the same, overpowering yet still. Every bush, every insect, every rock, every animal, and every plant bears the unmistakable imprint of God's creative and sustaining power.

Other questions or concerns I have:


Are churches failing in some way that they have to send people to camp in order to have emotional experiences to prompt them to respond to the leading of Lord and make decisions? And again, what about all those who for various reasons don't have the ability or don't know about Bible Camps; are they spiritually disadvantaged?


Concerning the "wilderness experiences" of Moses, Elijah, and Christ Himself as mentioned in the quote above; how is what they did by going out and being with God alone, and even depriving themselves by fasting and such, comparable to going to a Bible Camp and having some great emotional religious experience. As far as I recall Moses didn't have access to coffee shops once he left his place of privilege in Egypt.


Are we seeing the creative work of God and beauty in the lost men around us as we do in every insect and every rock?


I'm not saying that if you shouldn't go to a Bible Camp if you have the opportunity. In fact, I'd probably recommend it over any other resort you may want to go to. And I am coming see Bible Camps as Christian resorts as much as places of ministry.


If anyone makes it through this post, I am interested in any feedback as to any thoughts on the validity of Bible Camps; whether my thoughts are valid, or if I'm just harboring resentment that shouldn't reflect on the camps themselves, or any other thoughts.


I'm also curious as to how many have access to or take advantage of camps.


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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:50 am 
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To be more concise:

Are Bible Camps places for weak Christians to go to make them feel good about being weak Christians, and to encourage them to remain weak Christians, run by weak Christians pretending to be missionaries?



Actually, you could probably ask the same about most churches (i.e. social clubs).


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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:15 am 
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Reading your post, I read all I needed to read when you stated: "The camp has gone from King James, to King James preferred"
It may seem to some that my reaction was a knee jerk reaction, but their change was very telling of how they feel about God, and the Word of God.
When they changed from King James to KJ "preferred", they ceased to be of any spiritual good at all. They are now little more than the Boy Scouts, etc. as far as pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
That's my opinion and I'm stuck on it.

And yes, you can definitely say the same about most "churches" today. They are Country Clubs minus the drinking, in most that is.

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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:08 am 
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Thanks for the feedback Bro. Chuck. I agree that churches have become Country Clubs, I've been calling them Social Clubs.

You live in a beautiful part of the country. Do you see the "need" for, or the value of, periodic "wilderness experiences" assuming there was a camp there that was solidly KJV?

I don't see anything wrong with going and having good fellowship with other Christians in a pleasant, inspiring environment; and some who don't yet know the Lord may be more willing to go to a camp than go to a church.

But are we depending on camps and other activities to make us feel like we're good Christians?

It's great to see God in His creation, but at what point do we start to worship the creation more than the Creator?

I don't know. If we go by the Bible, I don't really see anything against Bible Camps, nor do I see anything promoting them. The fact that I don't see anything specific leads me to believe that men place more value on them than God does. Comparing Bible Camps to the wilderness experiences of Moses, Elijah, Christ, or even the children of Israel, strikes me as either somewhat dishonest or ignorant. I'm curious now as to how real these statistics are that imply that so many who are serving the Lord today wouldn't be if it wasn't for camp. I may have to do a little more research on that. I'd be interested if anyone else can come up with Scripture related to camps.

So I guess I don't see anything inherently wrong with them, if they hold to the Bible and are truly seeking to encourage people to serve the Lord. But again, why can camps encourage people to make decisions for the Lord that churches can't? And why do Christians seem to need to regularly go to camps to experience some kind of spiritual high and to be encouraged?

Now that they're more "Christian Resorts", or at least resorts with a Christian flavor, than true "Bible Camps" makes me even more cynical. Any more thoughts are welcome.

BTW; I don't know if it makes a big difference, but I've been thinking about camps more from an adult perspective; "Men's Retreat", "Women's Retreat", "Couples Retreat", "Family Camp", Fathers and Sons... It just struck me that when I mention camps, some may think more of kids, but it seems to be as much adults who seem to think they need to attend camp to be encouraged all the time.

Fun=Spirituality?


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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:55 pm 
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Jeff wrote:
Thanks for the feedback Bro. Chuck. I agree that churches have become Country Clubs, I've been calling them Social Clubs.

You live in a beautiful part of the country. Do you see the "need" for, or the value of, periodic "wilderness experiences" assuming there was a camp there that was solidly KJV?

I don't see anything wrong with going and having good fellowship with other Christians in a pleasant, inspiring environment; and some who don't yet know the Lord may be more willing to go to a camp than go to a church.

But are we depending on camps and other activities to make us feel like we're good Christians?

It's great to see God in His creation, but at what point do we start to worship the creation more than the Creator?

I don't know. If we go by the Bible, I don't really see anything against Bible Camps, nor do I see anything promoting them. The fact that I don't see anything specific leads me to believe that men place more value on them than God does. Comparing Bible Camps to the wilderness experiences of Moses, Elijah, Christ, or even the children of Israel, strikes me as either somewhat dishonest or ignorant. I'm curious now as to how real these statistics are that imply that so many who are serving the Lord today wouldn't be if it wasn't for camp. I may have to do a little more research on that. I'd be interested if anyone else can come up with Scripture related to camps.

So I guess I don't see anything inherently wrong with them, if they hold to the Bible and are truly seeking to encourage people to serve the Lord. But again, why can camps encourage people to make decisions for the Lord that churches can't? And why do Christians seem to need to regularly go to camps to experience some kind of spiritual high and to be encouraged?

Now that they're more "Christian Resorts", or at least resorts with a Christian flavor, than true "Bible Camps" makes me even more cynical. Any more thoughts are welcome.

BTW; I don't know if it makes a big difference, but I've been thinking about camps more from an adult perspective; "Men's Retreat", "Women's Retreat", "Couples Retreat", "Family Camp", Fathers and Sons... It just struck me that when I mention camps, some may think more of kids, but it seems to be as much adults who seem to think they need to attend camp to be encouraged all the time.

Fun=Spirituality?


We are in complete agreement. I know your point exactly. I think a group from church having a simple "get back to nature and fellowship" type of event is great, healthy, and rewarding in many ways.
And I think a church or better yet a co-op of churches funding a summer bible camp for youth is a fantastic idea with worship services and Bible classes along side, survival teaching and recreation activities.
But an organized Bible Camp must be genuine and serious to be legitimate and worth $upporting.

Arkansas is beautiful, especially here in my area tucked between the Boston mountains and Ouachita mountains in the Arkansas river valley. Thanks.
I was thinking you are in Montana? So if you are, I don't think we Arkansans can match Montanians (or Montanans) for landscape.

Speaking of which, I've always thought of how mind boggling the beautiful and awesome of this globe and diversity of landscapes and to think this is ONLY God's footstool, can you imagine what is waiting for us in Heaven!

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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:04 am 
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Bro. Chuck wrote:

Arkansas is beautiful, especially here in my area tucked between the Boston mountains and Ouachita mountains in the Arkansas river valley. Thanks.
I was thinking you are in Montana? So if you are, I don't think we Arkansans can match Montanians (or Montanans) for landscape.

Speaking of which, I've always thought of how mind boggling the beautiful and awesome of this globe and diversity of landscapes and to think this is ONLY God's footstool, can you imagine what is waiting for us in Heaven!
I agree with that too. Actually I'm in Wyoming. I think people tend to forget about Wyoming because there are so few people here (ranked 50th in population out of 50 states, and I think probably 58th out of Obama's 58 states), and I like it that way.


It's kind of hard to rate beauty, as I also think just about every place has its own kind of beauty. The Rockies may be more "majestic" but I don't think the Ozarks and Ouachitas are any less beautiful. I wouldn't mind living there, if only it was a little cooler, less humid, less ticks and chiggers, less copperheads, and a lot less people. But then, you might would have trouble with -40 degree temperatures, snow drifts several feet deep, icy roads, and Walmart and McDonalds being 100 miles away.:D


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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:03 am 
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:lol:
Jeff wrote:
Bro. Chuck wrote:

Arkansas is beautiful, especially here in my area tucked between the Boston mountains and Ouachita mountains in the Arkansas river valley. Thanks.
I was thinking you are in Montana? So if you are, I don't think we Arkansans can match Montanians (or Montanans) for landscape.

Speaking of which, I've always thought of how mind boggling the beautiful and awesome of this globe and diversity of landscapes and to think this is ONLY God's footstool, can you imagine what is waiting for us in Heaven!
I agree with that too. Actually I'm in Wyoming. I think people tend to forget about Wyoming because there are so few people here (ranked 50th in population out of 50 states, and I think probably 58th out of Obama's 58 states), and I like it that way.


It's kind of hard to rate beauty, as I also think just about every place has its own kind of beauty. The Rockies may be more "majestic" but I don't think the Ozarks and Ouachitas are any less beautiful. I wouldn't mind living there, if only it was a little cooler, less humid, less ticks and chiggers, less copperheads, and a lot less people. But then, you might would have trouble with -40 degree temperatures, snow drifts several feet deep, icy roads, and Walmart and McDonalds being 100 miles away.:D



I love it here, yep we have plenty of deal breakers like those you mentioned... for me the worst is the humidity. I can battle the others, but even the downsides of Arkansas actually have great value..... helps to keep the Yankees out. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:14 am 
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Incidentally, I just found out that the main lodge of the local camp was destroyed by fire a couple of days ago.



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 Post subject: Re: The Value of Bible Camps
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:39 am 
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Further contemplations in light of the fire:

I know better than to call the fire a judgment from God. I have no idea why He let the fire happen, so any speculation that this is some kind of warning or chastisement from God is nothing more than speculation.

On the other side of the matter; the lodge was discovered to have burned on Thursday, on Friday the camp was already soliciting donations to rebuild. The fire and insurance investigators aren't even supposed to get up there until this coming Friday. The lodge was about forty years old, but has undergone seemingly almost continuous upgrades and additions, including the coffee shop which I think was just completed. The camp even has even taken on a full time "missionary builder".

While they are calling this a tragedy, it's not the worst tragedy that has happened in recent years. Just a couple of months ago some heat tape failed somewhere in the lodge causing a pipe to burst and leading to the canceling of a singles (or young peoples) retreat. I don't know if that may be related somehow to the fire. Far worse, three years ago, possibly to the day of the fire (all they know for sure right now is that the fire happened sometime between Monday and Thursday) a pastor attending a retreat there died when he ran his snowmobile into a tree.

What's been on my mind is how much time was there between when the fire was discovered on Thursday and the promise was made on Friday to build an even better lodge, for any type of prayer and fasting, or whatever you may believe in, to seek God's mind? They claim Romans 8:28. Can they be so sure that they are so solidly in God's will that they don't need to take any more time to seek His will more perfectly? I know everyone involved with the camp believe it is doing wonderful work for the Lord, especially those who go there regularly for the great spiritual (hopefully) experiences they have there, and are ready to donate without even having to think about it. I'm the only one who seems to have any questions.

Having become cynical, I wonder if the immediate announcement to be back in business for the summer camps and to rebuild and carry on as usual, has more to do with marketing than ministry. Might a conscious decision have been made to not let contributors see any doubt, hesitation, or any kind of discouragement that taking a day or two sitting in the ashes, so to speak, seeking God's will more perfectly may have done? Also, I wonder if the permanent staff completely depending on the camp for their livelihood could affect their judgment.

Again, these are speculations on my part, I don't mean to make any judgments, but can't help wonder.

I'd still like to hear the thoughts others may have, even if you think I'm way off base on the whole matter.


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