Having spent 35 years working in the camping field (40 if you count 5 summers in my hometown for three weeks each summer), one question I am often asked is “Have you seen a lot of changes in children/youth through the years?” The answer to that would be, “yes and no”. Of course children have changed, as the world has changed. Because of greater access to the world through television and the internet, I think children are a lot more worldly-wise at a younger age than they were 35 years ago. I believe this generation of youth take things a bit more seriously overall than we did when I was a child, or maybe it was just me that was less serious! The tendency seems to be to grow up faster than when I was growing up. I guess in many ways, this is a good thing, but we still need to make sure children have a childhood… and a positive one.
I still see lots of similarities in the children and youth of today and those of yesteryear. They still have a curiosity about nature and the outdoors, and want to learn about those things. The difference is there aren’t as many opportunities for them to do so in our urban/suburban lives. Camp is the perfect place for this! Young folks still look up to older kids and adults, and seek out role models to pattern their lives after. Some of them get lucky and find great positive role models. Others make poor choices for mentors and role models, and thus grow up with more negative influences. Again, camp can facilitate this need in their lives by providing counselors who are positive, loving influences. And most young people still have an innate desire to answer the question “What is my purpose here in this world?” What a tremendous opportunity we have to share with them about God and his plan for their lives!!!
Children will always be children, and will always be curious, crazy, concerned, and cautious… our role is to help them along as best we can, and to provide them with positive experiences that they can hold as a foundation as they grow into adulthood. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child up in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There is no greater challenge, and no great responsibility than that.
Ridgecrest Summer Camps Staff 1976-present