Camp meetings are wonderful times of spiritual refreshment. But they are also times to develop memories that can never be taken away.

April 28, 2023

Worth the Expense

Two items loom large in most conference budgets. They are camp meetings and summer camps. Let’s talk about these expensive events.

I was born in April (you will have to guess the year) and the following July my parents packed me and my two-year-old sister into the car along with clothes, bedding and a portable stove and headed to the Michigan Conference camp meeting in Grand Ledge. For 10 days, my mom stayed with us in an army surplus tent with flaps and a wooden floor (Dad had to go home and work during the week but would join us on the weekends). That was the family ritual for the next nine years until we moved to another state. But it wasn’t the end of our engagement with conference camp meetings. I think there are only four or five years in my entire life that I haven’t attended at least one camp meeting.

I have vivid memories of doing crafts in the craft tent and playing with my little friends on the playground. I also remember the dirt floor in the main auditorium which I was told not to sit on “because those pants have to last you for several more days.”

There was a food tent and singing in the mass children’s choir in the big auditorium. As teenagers we would gather on the terrace behind the auditorium after the evening meetings were over and sing some new songs like “Pass it On” or “Side By Side.” During the days we would walk around the campgrounds seeing who we could see.

Camp meetings are wonderful times of spiritual refreshment. But they are also times to develop memories that can never be taken away.

And then there are our summer camps. Again, this is an opportunity to develop memories that will last a lifetime. If you want to start an animated conversation, get Adventists to share their camp experiences. So many fun things to do—wakeboarding, go-karts, archery, making new friends. But even more importantly, this is a place to deepen your understanding of God’s plan for your life and to appreciate more fully the grace of Jesus in His sacrifice on the cross. Just today, I heard a young adult say that it was at summer camp that they learned to love the Sabbath.

I once sat in a room full of conference presidents and we were asked to raise our hands if we had ever worked at an Adventist summer camp. The majority of those present raised their hands. Camp staffers have powerful opportunities to develop leadership skills through their camp work that will serve them throughout their careers.

I hope that as you read this month’s Lake Union Herald and its emphasis on camp meetings and summer camps that you will appreciate the role they continue to play in the lifelong development of disciples. While each generation has a different set of stories to tell, they all can experience God’s presence in their lives through these two ministries. I hope that you will agree that they are worth the investment of time, energy and money. I hope to see you at Camp Meeting or Summer Camp.

Ken Denslow is president of the Lake Union.