MYTH: Day camp is less important than on-site camp at Stony Lake.
Last year, I was hired as a Day Camp counselor and I’m not going to lie– I was pretty anxious about it. As a long time Michi-Lu-Ca camper, I was unfamiliar with how Day Camp worked, and my fear of missing out on happenings on-site, or at Stony Lake, was real. But let me tell you, the day camps I had the privilege of taking part of changed my life.
Day Camp is in a different city each week, which required me to plunge into the culture and ministry style of that particular community. I would live with host families and essentially become part of their world for a week. Traveling to new places was one of my greatest apprehensions, but seeing firsthand how people live differently than me helped me grow beyond belief. Also, going to these communities as a small team of four counselors gave me a lot more opportunities to lead songs or have a say in the programming. Because of these components, Day Camp stirred up in me flexibility, leadership, and interpersonal skills I didn’t even realize I had.
The kids that come to Day Camp really moved me as well. They are extremely pumped to participate, and it is exciting to see day-campers come out of their shell as the week progresses. In Flint, there was a high school camper who was “too cool for school” and was a very reserved participant. One day, however, the afternoon activity was sharpie tie-dye (we draw on shirts with sharpies and spray it with rubbing alcohol to spread the colors). This camper had drawn on his shirt and the instant he saw the colors move, he said, “THAT WAS DOPE!”. It was apparent how proud he was of his shirt– he wore it the next day.
Our Day Camp Director, Katrina Dykstra, touched on the vitality of LWM’s Day Camp ministry: “I think Day Camp is really important because it works with the same mission as on-site but it allows us to reach kids who might never be able to come to our on-site camp for income reasons, or for family reasons, or because they might be homesick. Day Camp allows us to come to them, reach them, and bring Living Water Ministries’ mission to them.”
Living Water Ministries’ Day Camp program welcomes kids as young as four years old. This means that for some of them, Day Camp is their very first time experiencing God. Participating in the formation of kids’ faith lives was a huge responsibility that I didn’t take lightly. In the book of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples, “I will make you fishers of people,” (Matthew 4:19) and asks us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18–20). Living Water Ministries would not be pursuing the Gospel or fulfilling our vision of ‘creating communities centered in Christ’ if we stayed within the property lines of Stony Lake. Each week a Day Camp team goes out into the world to ‘fish’ and ‘catches’ kids in the wonderful, inclusive ‘net’ that is God’s love. This strong evangelistic approach gives us the opportunity to reach the lives of children all across Michigan and because of that, Day Camp is unquestionably as important as on-site programs at Stony Lake!