Liturgy, when artfully done, is powerful and engages young people.

Many people write and say, “I hear you talk about liturgy, but that can’t possibly work with young people.” Here is the 45 second promo video for students to use to invite their friends to camp next summer. We are advertising the three things Christian camping is all about: fun, friends, and God. I am posting it for the last 10 seconds when you can briefly see that liturgy, when artfully done and culturally contextualized, is powerful enough for the young adults who make the video to say “that has to be in.” Lots of camp experiences don’t make the cut. What does make the cut tells you what is important to the 20-22 yr olds making the video.

If you look closely, the video, shot from this summer’s footage, you can see great camp fun, our gifted and godly young leaders, some first-rate proclaimers of the Gospel and a few of the many ways for kids to experience God, from the ancient to modern. The music is just as diverse as the spiritual offerings: Hip Hop/Chant/Hillsong/Black Gospel/Spanish/Taize/Hymns.

Our goal is to raise up a faithful Christian generation that is leading the church and changing the world.

A couple of things about our camp:

1. Our program is a combination of Young Life style energy with a strong emphasis on community building and contemplative and liturgical space all built around a framework of daily immersion in the Bible.

2. About 2/3 of our counselors were teenage converts, the other 1/3 grew up in the church. More than half are non-Anglo.

3. Over the last six years, every youth pastor who has brought students has said, “This wasn’t just the most powerful experience of God my students have ever had, it’s the most powerful experience of God <strong>I</strong> have ever had!

4. We know this works, because I am a numbers geek. We gather data and chart longitudinally on all of the 15 or so different spiritual experiences students engage in during the week.

We are very excited about the way we have blended the best of ancient and modern, catholic worship and protestant theology, fun and depth, community and individual experience. After 30 years of youth ministry and more than 30,000 campers I can honestly say that this is the most unique thing I have seen in camping.

btw, If you are interested in bringing students or observing, contact me.

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It’s Swaggy Approved and Bieberlicious: Why You Want Your Kid To Go To Camp

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The question was simple, “What are you telling your friends about summer camp? I am still scratching my head at the 8th grade girl’s answer: “It is absolutely the only thing in the world that is both Swaggy Approved and Bieberlicious.”

I am writing to you both as a parent of teenagers, and as someone who is a little fuzzy on what it means to be, “Absolutely Swaggy Approved” and/or “Bieberlicious.” I am writing to share with you the way Chapel Rock’s summer Youth Camp experience has profoundly affected my children’s faith and lives.

Granted, as the diocesan youth director and one of the architects of our youth camping and leadership development system, I am a bit of an insider. But, anyone who has had children can tell you that the best way to make your kids not want to do something is to force them to do it. We live at Chapel Rock for three weeks during the summer, so my kids had less choice to be at summer camp than they did to eat vegetables or do their homework. On top of that, we came from a ministry that has “resorts” for youth, gives campers a money back guarantee, and has more students involved than there are Episcopalians. To say that my kids had a few reasons not to like camp is an understatement. So how did that  work out?

Ellie, my college freshman daughter sent in her camp counselor application this week saying, “My one priority this summer is to be a counselor at Chapel Rock. Chapel Rock was the best thing about high school, so I am going to make sure that I give others the gift of Jesus that was given to me.” (I should probably say that my daughter had a pretty good high school experience: good friends, was student body president, got good grades. Yet it is Chapel Rock that was “the best thing about high school” for her.)

My son is a typical busy high school kid. He has some fairly intense college goals that involve extra summer classes and summer sailing and scuba programs. When I suggested that maybe this year he might miss camp he said, “Well, that just isn’t an option, Dad. Chapel Rock is my grounding for the coming year. The friendships, the worship, the teaching, the counselors…I come back in a Christ-focused space, an others centered space. Experiencing God at Chapel Rock is what makes me who I am, Dad.”

As a parent, I cannot imagine anything better than to hear that my children are having transformative experiences with God…that they are having them in our Church’s camp is icing on the cake. Our camp is forming my children in a depth of discipleship that will bless them for their entire lives. Camp gives kids a healthy peer group, adult models of the Christian life, and “God-experiences” communicated not just in sacramental worship, but through a sacramental view of life. They do all of this while strengthening the affiliation bond with our “tribe.”

Here is the short version of how it works: Our church’s leaders take (rather than send) students from our church. Our camp leaders – a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational group – the envy of other camps, are models of Christian commitment. Students engage with God in Scripturally based talks, small group discussions, and relevant sacramental and experiential worship. They play and have good, clean, old school fun.

You can imagine how grateful I am for the effect Chapel Rock has had in my children’s lives. They now actively worship God. They now actively serve others. They live lives that respond in gratitude to God’s love, both in what they do and don’t do. If the measure of faith is whether it changes the decisions someone makes, then camp has been a slam-dunk for the other 11½ months of the year.

Chapel Rock Youth Camp is ground zero for changed lives. I have seen a lot of camping in my 30 years of youth ministry, but I have never seen anything with a program like ours. And I have never seen anything that has the disciple-forming impact ours has. For us camp is batting 1000! My reason for writing is simple: As a parent, I am asking you to sign your kid up for youth camp this summer. It is a week that will count. Absolutely.

By the way, I asked the girl what being “absolutely Swaggy Approved and Bieberlicious” means. She said, “It means Chapel Rock is really great and you should come, Duh!”

Duh!

“The Chapel Rock experience is a picture of what life should be like. We were made to live in community, be vulnerable, have fun, and love Jesus. Camp is the perfect opportunity to do all of those things and grow into who we were made to be.” – Bre Krall, counselor