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Summer Camp

Trading Anxiety for Prayer

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The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. 
-Philippians 4:5-6
Travel anxieties and the excitement of meeting new people can be overwhelming for anyone. While owning a personal faith and stepping out of our comfort zone is part of what makes camp special, homesickness or reporting some anxiety about the week is common. What is also common in working out our salvation are the feelings of anxiety and fear we sometimes experience. Letting campers learn how to pray and trust God in their preparation is a great opportunity to apply the gospel.
Thankfully God’s Word is profitable and practical. Paul tells us that giving our requests in prayer to a God who is powerful, loving and knowing the future can remedy our anxiety. While we know this, it still takes some intentionality (and courage!) for a camper to leave home for a week with new people away from parents. The best way for parents to pass prayer along to their kids is to model it with them the week before leaving for camp.
It is also helpful to prepare your camper for the tech-free policy for 2019. Connectedness and anxiety too often go hand in hand in the digitally seamless world we have built. For many campers, keeping up with the goings on of daily social media “streaks” is like having hundreds of friends in your pocket at all times to share instantly what is happening. That kind of power can have a draining and pressurizing effect. In a study reported by the CCCA, of camps who implemented a no-device policy, 80% of kids were less stressed and anxious without the expectation to keep up with social media. Our hope is that a week of camp will help kids unplug so they can reconnect to God in prayer.
Something special happens when we pause to unload our anxious heart before God—we become more aware that He is at hand. Parents can talk with their campers, help them pack and pray for them specifically to be sure the time away from home draws them closer to Jesus.

The Best Week Ever

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With Summer Camp kicking off this Sunday, now is a great time for returning families and first time campers both to plan ahead. Our teams have been training and planning for an action packed summer, and we wanted to pass along these final reminders to campers and parents:

First things first. Both parents and campers can pray for the week to challenge students to deeper faith in Jesus. Along with prayer, since each week of summer camp will be walking through the book of Galatians together, campers can read ahead to engage their hearts with God’s Word before arrival.

Prep Checklist. Happy campers come well prepared! Don’t forget to double check the pack list and make sure all the essentials are covered. A big part of camp being enjoyable and distraction-free for everyone is also knowing what not to bring. Please remember that campers are not allowed to have personal devices; for a further explanation of the policy, check out our past blog entries.

Arrival Day Game Plan. Make a plan with friends or your church group to arrive on your Sunday check-in day. This year the Check-In Tent will be opening at 3:00PM EST. Prior to guest arrival, each week the Summer Staff  meet to pray and cover last minute details, while other teams on campus work hard to clean the camp before a new group arrives. We appreciate your understanding in helping us time everything just right!

We want Summer Camp to be the Best Week Ever for each parent and every camper! If you have other questions about Summer Camp, or would like to learn more about how to register, visit the summer camp page to register and learn more!

Fresh Faces

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For the past two weeks, fresh faces have been arriving at camp; a sure signal summer is almost here! Last week, the Program Office arrived to begin the work of preparing and leading. Yesterday, the remaining Summer Staff team trickled in. As most of our staff are coming off high energy semesters or whirlwind graduation seasons, the first week of training helps to acclimate them to camp life, bond as a team, and most importantly pause to get Christ-centered.

This weekend the team will travel offsite to fellowship, be alone with Christ, and will learn to practice spiritual disciplines. When they return next week, countless hours will be spent in creative planning sessions, learning safety protocols, conducting drills, and praying for the campers who will be here this summer. 

Our team is built around the concept that every member has a role to play, just like the body of Christ! These roles range from leading discussion times after chapel, engaging campers in one-on-ones, setting up and running activities, cleaning, providing food, and maintaining safety standards—every role has a purpose, and every gift has a place to serve. 

Many campers naturally wonder how they can become part of the Summer Staff. While we always have room on the team for newcomers, most of our leaders are campers who have come through our ministry pipeline. The leadership portion of this pipeline starts with the Camp Aide program. Here our campers learn to serve and live out their faith. 

If you aren’t aware, we have expanded the Camp Aide Program and spots are available for guys this year. If you haven’t registered, we encourage you to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. Click the link below for more information!

The Dirty Work

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This week Miracle Camp is full of activity in a different way—rather than cabins full of campers, our campus has been full of teams of workers helping us ready the facility for summer. While prayer comes first on the to-do list, next comes rolling up shirtsleeves and getting to work!

From flower beds to fire suppression, our Operations Team leads the way in making our facility safe and beautiful. Kitchen and Housekeeping Teams dutifully carry out jobs like taking out the trash, doing the dishes and making sure the facilities are clean and sanitary. Each of these teams model servant leadership for our whole staff! Even though they enjoy the quiet and unrecognized service, we enjoy pointing to their action as a worthy example and praise God for each member and how they serve!

Humility, servanthood and a willingness to be last: traits that will not win blue ribbon awards, yet Jesus described kingdom greatness just that way. While His disciples continually asked when he would become king or which of them would be in charge, Jesus pointed them toward selfless service every time.

While our teams continue to pray for fruitful ministry this summer, we are thankful for the work of our every single volunteer, contractor and team member to make our campus guest ready!

Smooth Transitions Start With Prayer

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Spring is when everything outside changes in Western Michigan! Seemingly overnight, brisk days of lingering winter give way to full flowering trees and birds returning for summer. While the weather takes a turn for the good, behind the scenes the Miracle Camp team changes pace as well, just in time to prep for summertime.

This year, beginning May 15, we will be hosting campers every day throughout the summer season until mid-August. We are so thankful to God for filling our calendar again with so many different groups and guests to serve! Each year our team works hard to prepare, so that every camper has the best week ever. But prayer is the precursor to everything we do as God’s people. That step cannot afford to be missed.

We know as a team that so many of our guests are also the key supporters of our ministry, and we are thankful for your prayers. Each Friday, we spend special time as a team praying that our guests would arrive safely and encounter Jesus through our ministry. This Friday, please join us in prayer for the following 3 needs as summer approaches:

  1. The home stretch of the Evergreen Project. Pray for a safe and timely finish with everything approved and ready for our summer campers!
  2. Three new interns will join our team this month; pray for their safe arrival and quick transition into summer ministry and gospel community!
  3. Program Office and Summer Staff begin training in early June, and this Summer we are growing the Camp Aide Program; pray for us as we build and train servant leadership among our groups!

Again, we are thankful for the many relationships we share with our guests and appreciate each prayer offered toward the ministry at camp. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

The Tech Effect: Summer Camp

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Here at Miracle Camp we are dedicated to being a learning-based Youth Service Organization that responds to and implements technology in appropriate ways, while also sharing what we learn with parents desiring to train a godly generation in a media saturated culture. Serving thousands of students each year, the Miracle Camp ministry team sees the need for balance and even boundaries that will protect and influence the next generation of Christ followers. In this three part blog series we hope to provide rationale behind implementing our device free policy for Summer Camps in 2019.

 

He waves goodbye to the other boys in his cabin as he gets into the car with his mom on the last day of Summer Camp. This high school sophomore spends the first 30 minutes on the drive home talking nonstop about his favorite games, the new friends he made, and the ways God changed him. He doesn’t think to ask for his phone until his mom tells him it is in the backseat. Glancing back at his phone, he shrugs and continues talking to his mother. To her surprise, he says, “I didn’t realize how much I wouldn’t miss it.”

When considering the place of technology in everyday life, there is a dichotomy between “the real world” and “the virtual world.” However, in the age of smartphones, social media, and a dependence on electronics, “we’re no longer in a time when we should be viewing digital communications as not being the “real world.”[1] Electronics have infiltrated nearly every part of life. Rather than trying to separate their influence, which would be nearly impossible, they need to be regulated. With this thought process, we believe that a device-free Summer Camp can deepen the awareness of the technology addiction and give insight to managing it a healthy way.

We are asking for campers to leave their devices at home for the week they attend Summer Camp. Our goal is to stimulate healthy conversations regarding technology use and motivate kids to change, resulting in impacting others in terms of phone use. While this is a big picture thought, there are many other benefits of no phones. In a study reported by the CCCA of camps who implemented a no-device policy, 80% of kids were less stressed and anxious without the expectation to keep up with social media.[2] Kids were astonished at how well they connected with others; 92% said they got to know people better because they did not have their phones.[3]

One camper said that with phones, “people would not talk to each other or try new things and just be in their cabin all day. No one would ever leave and everyone would just be zombies.”[4] Kids recognize the detriment that phones would have on their summer camp experience. 72% of campers said camp would have been worse with their phones.[5] When asked how camp would have been different if phones were allowed, one camper said, “I’d want to put everything on social media. No one would make new friends or learn anything.”[6]

A device free week allows students to be fully present in the camp experience without being torn between Summer Camp and their lives back home. This also leads to less drama, bullying, and gossip that comes through social media. Cabin leaders will be trained to facilitate discussions and strategically encourage campers to reflect on their screen use habits during cabin devotion time, natural conversations during activities, and waiting for meals or games to start.

While the device policy is changing, it will not negatively affect parent-child connectivity. Parent e-mails can still be sent through our website and will be delivered to campers each night at dinner. Homesickness calls to home are always available as well and dealt with through the camp nurse. Non-emergency calls can be made on a case-by-case basis—campers simply need to talk to their cabin leader to set up a time to use the office phone. In every case though, we hope that campers enjoy their week so much that calls home are hardly necessary. As always, parents can stay connected through viewing the daily photos (uploaded by 5:00pm the following day). This way, parents can see the fun their kids are having, and campers will be able to look back on their memories when they get home.

Our policy includes the following:

  • Campers cannot bring digital devices to camp. This includes cell phones, tablets, handheld video games, smart watches, mp3 players, laptops, drones.
  • Digital/disposable cameras are allowed.
  • If a camper brings a device, Miracle Camp will send it home with parents or retain possession of the device until the camper’s departure.

We want campers to know what it feels like to be device free. Eliminating devices eliminates the distractions and allows them to fully experience camp, make new friends, and most importantly grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus. After camp and looking to the future, they can make an informed choice as to how and when they utilize phones, social media, and more.

If you have any questions regarding the new policy, feel free to contact us at info@miraclecamp.com!


[1] Hunter, G. (2018, August/September). Make it work for you. InSite Magazine, 3. 22(4).
[2] CCCA conference. Miracle Camp is associated with Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA) and has benefited tremendously from their network and resources on this topic. More information can be found at https://www.ccca.org/ccca/Vision,_Mission,_Values.asp
[3] CCCA
[4] CCCA
[5] CCCA
[6] CCCA

The Tech Effect: Finding Balance

By | Summer Camp | No Comments

Here at Miracle Camp we are dedicated to being a learning-based Youth Service Organization that responds to and implements technology in appropriate ways, while also sharing what we learn with parents desiring to train a godly generation in a media saturated culture. Serving thousands of students each year, the Miracle Camp ministry team sees the need for balance and even boundaries that will protect and influence the next generation of Christ followers. In this three part blog series we hope to provide rationale behind implementing our device free policy for Summer Camps in 2019.

 

At Miracle Camp, the following scenario is not an uncommon one.

A 7th grader steps off the church bus, taking in the sights around her: Summer Staff cheering, kids finding their cabins, and plan-scheming to get in all the best activities. Though a busy excitement fills the air, she can’t help but sense a loneliness. Instinctively she reaches to her jeans pocket, only to find the void is deeper than the space where her phone used to be; it comes from the disconnect from her world of “followers,” “likes,” and messages. She wonders how she is supposed to have “the best week of her life” at camp if she doesn’t have a way to “talk” to anyone.

This situation is not too different from what adults experience when accidentally leaving their phones at home when they go to the store or attend an event. Constant connectivity inevitably changes us, often in unseen ways. If not used properly, it leads to an addiction resulting in underlying consequences that are taking a toll on kids physically, socially, mentally, and more.

Technology is consuming cognitive capacity, therefore leaving huge gaps in the realm of development. Kids are not getting enough sleep or exercise and end up snacking more than necessary[1]. Their ability to interact with others socially is declining as they depend more on the virtual world for relationships while neglecting their family and friends in front of them. This can lead to feelings of isolation. According to CCCA, 69% of kids recognize that in-person interactions are more gratifying and wish they could spend more time socializing with friends face-to-face rather than online.[2]

Due to the stimulation kids are exposed to through technology, shorter attention spans lead to difficulties in many areas, but particularly academically. “The brain is trained at a young age to multitask to such a high degree that it is often incapable of focusing on one task or thought at a time.”[3] Children who spend a lot of time on electronics “have trained their brain to receive heightened stimulation and the accompanying dopamine boosts. They are therefore susceptible to similar symptoms as a child with ADHD—as he or she may also begin to have difficulty focusing on classroom instruction or chores.”[4]

With technology infiltrating nearly every aspect of life, it has created tremendous pressure on students. 41% of kids are overwhelmed by the notifications they receive online, and 58% feel they are expected to respond instantly[5]. The way it is marketed, kids are not able to say “no.” It is difficult to manage an addiction in the first place, but it is an entirely different battle when the addiction is something that kids want a break from, but is constantly in our faces thanks to marketing, media, and more. This requires an extra level of intentionality, for students, parents, and institutions like summer camps.

Rather than being a slave to technology, we need it in its rightful place. It is a tool to work for us, not the other way around. “While it is too simplistic to say that we are a product of our technologies or tools, it is indisputably true that in many ways our technologies do shape us,” Tim Challies of LifeWay Research says[6]. Because technology is a normal part of everyday life for most people, we don’t see the addiction and the ways it is changing us. To live wisely in this digital world, “it’s critical for us and for the next generation to be able to step back and see how technology is actually shaping us.”[7]

Setting limits on technology is not limiting us, like many view it, but rather freeing us from the grip of technology’s addiction. Monitoring screen time both for yourself and your kids is a way to gain balance in technology usage. Choose to participate in other screen-free activities, such as reading a book, taking a walk, playing a board game, etc. Taking televisions, computers, and phones out of your children’s rooms at night helps them improve their focus and attention spans, as well as help them relax for a good night’s sleep.[8] As part of the initiative to gain control over the technology addiction and to ensure the best week for kids, we have created a device free policy for Summer Camp 2019. Next week will wrap up our technology blog series with more about practically implementing the new policy and how it will benefit campers in a multitude of ways.

 

The Tech Effect

By | Summer Camp | No Comments

Here at Miracle Camp we are dedicated to being a learning-based Youth Service Organization that responds to and implements technology in appropriate ways, while also sharing what we learn with parents desiring to train a godly generation in a media saturated culture. Serving thousands of students each year, the Miracle Camp ministry team sees the need for balance and even boundaries that will protect and influence the next generation of Christ followers. In this three part blog series we hope to provide rationale behind implementing our device free policy for Summer Camps in 2019.

 

Recently in the Bankson Lodge lobby, a senior high boy boasts, “122 likes…Look!” after sharing his afternoon activities on Instagram. Meanwhile on the other side of the camp, another camper walks alone and retreats into their screen, deciding to try and steal away a few moments with friends “back home.”

Both are examples of how our tech offers us constant connectedness today. With voice command assistants at the ready as instant fact-checkers at our command or the temptation to snap a selfie and share a moment with friends far and wide, today’s campers, known as digital natives, thrive on Instagram likes or taking enviable snaps as everyday life activities.

The PC, tablet, and smartphone adoption rate in the last decade have topped out and now are giving way to even newer generations of wearable technology and smart devices. Intended to make life easier, technology manages tasks faster, more efficient, while simultaneously offering a new realm of creativity. While these optimizations may add simplicity to our lives, we also seem constantly distracted by them, if even dependent at times. Being connected is a powerful tool we must help our students steward well.

Technology provides a path that allows people to channel their human drives, such as connecting with others, portraying social status, competing and achieving objectives, learning and acquiring knowledge, and more. It is also highly customizable, engaging individuals through unique and personal interests (CCCA). Morally neutral, technology gives humans an entire world at the tips of our fingers, offering us an infinite capacity to use it for good or allowing it to expose the darkness of the heart.

In today’s world, “from the moment we get out of bed until we crash at night, life feels like a buzz of attention-grabbing technology and busyness.” (1) As technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of society, dependency has given way to indulgence.

The underlying danger in our inability to limit use can be affirmed with data. For example, of people ages 18 – 24, 78% use Snapchat on a regular basis, and 95% of teens either have, or have access to a smartphone (Pew Research). 45% of teens indicate that they are online “almost constantly” (see chart). Still yet, the culture of busyness is starting at younger ages each year making it more challenging for summer campers to unplug and connect with God. (2)

What many find surprising to hear for the first time is that social media likes trigger the same brain activity as drug use. Social media platforms “leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.” (3)

Though the addiction can be subconscious, many kids are aware. According to CCCA, 50% of kids recognize they are addicted and 65% wish they had a better ability to self-limit the amount of time on their phones. 26% would even report they wish someone would impose limits on their screen time. Not only is the addiction a concern, but kids are finding technology to be emotionally burdensome, even anxiety inducing. (4)

We work for Summer Camp to be an intentional time away from what is familiar for a student to own their faith in Jesus; often times the constant presence of devices gets in the way. We want to help students find a balance of technology in life, using it as a tool for God’s glory, while living free from the grip of its constant allure. Without the constant buzz in pockets, even just for one week, this freedom allows students to focus on spiritual formation, relationship building, and being fully present in the life right in front of them. While screen time boundaries are nothing new to savvy parents, we find value in the practice of a regular detox that reinforces healthy boundaries and rhythms.

For the first time this summer, we are asking parents to help create a safe and undistracted environment by leaving devices at home. Having a conversation about why this policy is important with your students may help them prepare for any anxieties related to detaching from devices. Check back next week for the second installment of our tech series as we share more of the thought process behind making summer camp the best week ever!

1. Quote from article found at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/july-web-only/how-to-witness-to-distracted-world-disruptive-witness-noble.html
2. Stats taken from sources at http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/
3. Quote from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/
4. MCRC is affiliated with CCCA and has benefited tremendously from their network and resources on the topic. More info can be found at https://www.ccca.org/ccca/Vision,_Mission,_Values.asp

Camp Aide Program

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Want to experience Summer Camp as more than just a camper? Our two-week Camp Aide discipleship program is for students going into 10th – 12th grades. This opportunity gives students a chance to work with kids, serve around camp, and grow in their relationship with God.

As a Camp Aide, you will not only have a blast for two weeks of Summer Camp, but you will gain leadership experience as you interact with kids and shadow Cabin Leaders. Also, you will work with a team of other Camp Aides, completing projects and serving where needed around camp. Most importantly, you will grow spiritually through biblical teaching, small group time, praise and worship, and personal devotions.

Junior Frank Smith says the best part of camp aiding “was getting the chance to be spiritually involved in others’ lives and being able to develop a relationship both with the kids and the staff.” He loved getting to know the campers and his peers, as well as being mentored by the staff who were older than him. He adds, “This last summer I developed a really strong relationship with the camp aide director and now he is a trusted friend, but also a guide and an example.”

A highlight of the summer for sophomore Jayton Alger “was the bonding time with fellow camp aides and the cabin leaders.” She says she grew in her views of worship and enjoyed the worship nights with the assistant cabin leaders.

Forming relationships is a large part of Camp Aiding. Each Camp Aide gets to invest in campers’ lives by being paired with a cabin. Senior Jenna King’s favorite part was getting to know the girl campers each week. She says, “having the chance to learn about each of their lives was incredible, and it was amazing to hear their questions and ideas about their devos and the chapel sessions.”

Frank found that he grew through spending constant time with God and watching Him work. “Watching kids develop a relationship with God and have those “ah-ha!” moments is really cool” he shares. “I’ve seen many people truly affected by camp, including myself!”

Jenna discovered much in her time as a Camp Aide: “I learned a lot about how God can use people in smaller ways to help push towards a bigger goal. In my mind, I’ve always pictured our job as believers to be guiding people all the way to salvation, but during camp I saw how it’s a journey made up of so many people, and how sometimes God uses us to plant the seeds, sometimes to harvest, and sometimes to help them grow. It was really cool because on the second day of camp I read John 3-4, and the section of the workers and the harvest in John 4 really embodies this.”

Do you want to be a Camp Aide this coming summer? Applications are due March 15th, so be sure to get yours in!

Summer Staff Applications!

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It’s hard to believe that while snow covers the ground and barren trees set the backdrop of the frozen lake, we are gearing up for Summer Camp 2019. As we prepare for the summer season, hiring Summer Staff members is a significant part of the process.

We are looking for college-age kingdom leaders who love discipling kids and are hungry to grow in their leadership ability. Whether or not you have any previous camp experience, a summer on staff at Miracle Camp will stretch you in your ability to communicate with others, work on a team, lead others, problem solve, and share the love of Jesus with others.

If this describes you, you would be a great fit for our summer staff team. Are you ready?

Each summer, we hire about 50 college students to teach God’s Word to kids in a variety of ways. As a Summer Staff member, you will build relationships with kids through doing activities together, leading devotion times, and having one on one conversations with each camper. Training at the beginning of the summer will not only equip you for a fruitful summer of ministry, but also will give you skills that transfer to any professional working environment.

Another benefit of serving in this capacity is the strong friendships you will form with your peers as you grow and serve together in community. While you invest in each camper’s life, you will also be challenged and grow spiritually as you are poured into by Miracle Camp full-time staff and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Not only do you get to spend your summer hanging out with kids, seeing lives changed, and growing in the gospel, but you also get paid for this. In addition, your meals and lodging are all included for the summer. What are you waiting for?

Below is a list of positions we are looking to fill:

·        Cabin Leader

·        Hospitality

·        Lifeguard

·        Camp Store

·        Craft Shack

·        Photographer

·        Maintenance

·        Worship Team

·        Videographer

·        Program Staff

·        Health Assistant

·        Outdoor Adventure

The deadline to apply is February 1st, so be sure to get your application in today! To apply online or find out more information, click the button below! Are you ready to have the best summer of your life?

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