So your kid is off to Summer Camp! Well done, Parent, you have successfully let the tether slip from your fingers for at least a few nights. If this is your first time, just breathe, you’ll make it (as will they.) If this is old hat to you and your family, try to wait until the camp bus is out of sight before you start the happy dance; you can at least pretend to be sad about your child leaving your home.
Southland Summer Camp takes kids young – going into grade two for our kids camp – which means they might be as young as 6 years old when you leave them in the hands of that fresh young graduate student (without kids and without parental common sense). That’s how old Malachi was when he went to camp for the first time. I remember the feeling in my gut, and the whispered prayers as we left.
Many prayers are whispered by parents as their kids leave for Summer Camp.
Prayers like: “Please help them stay alive” (a fine, noble prayer, if not motivated by fear); “Please help them not to get sick with ‘beaver fever'” (a prayer motivated by your distinct disinterest in having to head up to camp to collect your child halfway through the week); “Help them to make good friends” (this is something we all want.)
So you’ve prayed the important prayers; prayers that are critical and effective, but can I suggest that there are other prayers you might want to add to your list this week? Here are my suggestions!
ONE. Pray for your child’s counselor
You may have already been doing this – but make sure you cover your child’s counselors in prayer! They need a ton of energy and wisdom beyond their years. Pray that God gives them parenting sense and a deep love for the campers in their cabin.
TWO. Pray for your child’s counselor’s family
Your child’s counselor is away from home for all or part of the summer. In some cases they are high school students who haven’t left home for this long before and in other cases they are parents who are taking a week off of work to counsel their child’s cabin. Pray for their family back home.
THREE. Pray for the Camp Director (and his new wife!)
In the case of Southland Summer Camp we have a new director, Kyle Sheppard, and he has a new wife, Bianca! Pray that they have an amazing first summer together as a couple as well as in a new role at camp.
FOUR. Pray for your child’s new friend
Your child is going to make new friends this week – that is one of the beautiful things about camp. So pray for that friend! Pray that they meet Jesus and feel loved and belonging. Pray that the friendship lasts beyond camp.
FIVE. Pray for the “least of these” in your child’s cabin
In every group, in every situation, in every cabin there is a “least of these.” He’s a kid who doesn’t always understand social environments or how to play nice or proper hygiene. She might be hyper-active or special needs or just from a dysfunctional home. Pray that these kids, who are so precious to God, will find their place and make genuine friendships at camp.
SIX. Pray for the kid who is going home to dysfunction after camp
For all the campers who are homesick there are always a few who are relieved to be at camp and away from the dysfunction they experience at home. For these kids, the thought of camp being over, after all the fun, attention and purpose, is a really hard thing. Pray that God would prepare their hearts for the return.
SEVEN. Pray for the future of Summer Camp
There are competing values in the world and if you see the value of sending your child for a week of spiritual growth, then we need to be vigilant to pray that we are allowed to keep our religious freedom. Don’t take it for granted.
EIGHT. Pray for the camp’s neighbours
Unless a camp is very remote or isolated, there are normally neighbours fairly close by. Pray that these neighbours see the value in Summer Camp and are thrilled to hear the songs from the campfire echoing down the river.
NINE. Pray for the property
Camp is a lot of fun, but you know what isn’t? A dozen plugged toilets, failed air conditioning in the kitchen, water line breaks, water filtration failures… the list of things that can go wrong is pretty long. So pray that God sustains the physical systems that keep camp a happy and healthy place.
TEN. Pray for the environmentWhoa… did Thom just go all hippie on us? No! We should pray that the natural beauty is sustained for many more years to come. This year you can see where the pine beetles have infected evergreen trees and where the tent forest caterpillars have stripped the leaves of the poplars. For kids from the city (even our little city), this is a wonderful chance to experience nature like they haven’t before. Thank God for His creation and pray that it is sustained in all it’s beauty!
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