by Jon Dalrymple
HAYDEN, ID - When you say the words "summer camp," most people think of water-skiing, canoeing, horseback riding and other fun, outdoor activities in a safe and caring environment. But have you ever thought of summer camp as a special environment for youth to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ?
This year Camp MiVoden, Upper Columbia Conference's youth summer camp in Hayden Idaho, received 192 requests for baptism. That number is nearly 30 more requests than usual from campers, and for the past four years the number has been rising.
"In our entire program we focus on nudging kids toward a relationship with Jesus Christ," says Richard Parker, Camp MiVoden director. "Whether it's an activity, song drama, or a walk in the woods, we purposely try to get kids thinking and talking about spiritual things. We strive to create an environment where counselors can get the kids' attention, build a relationship with them, and take them to the point of a gospel presentation on Friday night and Sabbath."
Each week of camp begins by starting a friendship between kids and their counselors. Camp MiVoden trains counselors on the intent of the program and teaches them how to use the activities at camp as tools to help children see the relevance of spirituality in their lives.
As the week progresses, kids experience daily devotions with their cabin, camp worships, skits and many opportunities to be mentored by their counselor. Finally on Friday night and Sabbath, campers are presented the Gospel through song dramas and a church service by the camp pastor which ends with a call to make a commitment to Jesus. Commitment cards that the kids turn in are then given to their local church pastor with a letter that suggests how the pastor should follow up on the kids' decision,
"Our goal is to connect the kids with a local church. We see this as a support effort to the local church in their regular evangelism," says Parker. "We also want kids to know that the church cares enough about them to provide a place like Camp MiVoden."
Currently, MiVoden is in the process of raising money to build new cabins so that camp can be an even better place to teach kids about Jesus. The plans call for building eight new cabins. Each cabin will have a small "living room" for small group activities. The cost of building each duplex is approximately $125,000 which includes part of the cost of infrastructure for a new sewage system.
"We want MiVoden to continue to be an effective ministry for years to come," says Parker, "to do that we want to build cabins that provide a setting were kids can have small group interactions without the distraction of other groups and activities. A place where counselors can develop discussion themes and topics that lead to spiritual thinking."
To learn more about Camp MiVoden's master plan and help in their fund raising efforts visit www.mivoden.com or call the camp office at (208) 772-3484.