Making A Lifetime Of Memories In 24 Hours

Camp Bible allows children to experience God in a new place

Registration is now open for Camp Bible 2019, scheduled for Sept. 21-22 at Bridgeport Camp and Conference Center.

Camp Bible is a 24-hour experience for children in grades 3-5. Campers and counselors worship together, learn about God and the Bible, and have fun participating in camp activities and games. This year’s theme is “Be the Church,” which will focus on the words Jesus gave to live out his ministry as the body of Christ as we speak the love, grace, truth and compassion of God.

“Camp Bible introduces many kids to camp life for the first time and gives them a taste of what it is like to experience God in a new place, outside of their home and church,” said Rev. Emma Williams, who focuses on Faith Formation in the conference’s Center for Leadership Development. “It also shows children from an early age that we are connectional, and, even if we come from different places, we can come together as United Methodists from all over the area to worship and play together.”

Abbey EcholsRev. Abbey Echols, associate pastor at First UMC Sherman, shares her thoughts on Camp Bible and the rich experiences she believes children and ministers alike can gain from attending.

What did you hope your 3rd-5th graders would achieve by attending Camp Bible?

My biggest hope for children at Camp Bible is that they learn that the Bible is this wonderful book that they can dig into, read, learn from and discuss the stories of our faith together. We have children who come to Camp Bible just having received their third-grade Bibles, and they are so excited to be able to use their very own Bibles for this experience. It's also my hope, at Camp Bible, that children get a quick 24-hour glimpse of what summer camp is like and get excited about coming back during the summer! 

What did you notice about their spiritual formation/group after attending?

After attending Camp Bible, we've noticed that children connect what they learn and what they see/experience here at church to their Camp Bible experience. "Hey! We learned about this story at Camp Bible!" We've also found that many of them want to come back to summer camp because they've had so much fun at Camp Bible.

What memories stand out from the experience?

Me personally, I felt my call to Ministry at the first Camp Bible I went to in September 2013. Being in worship at the cross, early on a Sunday morning, surrounded by children, hearing Pastor Rachel Baughman read The Dreamer by Cynthia Rylant – that was a moment where I clearly felt God calling me to use my gifts for ministry for God's good purposes with children and their families.

One year, a leader said to the children, "If God loves you, come sit in the circle." Seeing all the children go to sit in the circle, this one little girl responded in bright-eyed amazement, "Hey! That's ALL of us!"  Now, this little girl was at Camp Bible for less than 24 hours. And within those few short hours, she caught a glimpse of the enormity of God's love because she and all of the people in her group got to come sit in the circle of God's love. These children were older and younger than her, they had different skin color than her, they were from different parts of town than her, they were from different family dynamics than her. But there, in that moment, she saw herself, and all the other children there, as beloved children of God.  That's an experience that, I hope, has stuck with her for years to come - to know that we are all part of the family of God - loved and cherished immensely.

Why would you recommend other children’s ministers take groups to Camp Bible?

Again, it's a glimpse of the fun and faith formation that happens at summer camp and, since it's only for 24 hours, it's more affordable than summer camp. (If folks need scholarships to send their children, they can totally give us a shout.)  And again, while this camp is short, that's just enough time for them to experience God's love, grow in their faith and make "camp memories" that will continue on in their hearts and minds for years to come.

Published: Wednesday, August 7, 2019