Why do we go camping?
July 16, 2007
I had to write something for our monthly newsletter at church, and since I, again, asked myself this question while attending some camps this past few weeks, I made this my topic. But I was kind of limited on the amount of words I had, so I’m writing my thoughts out in more detail here.
I don’t know how many camps I’ve attended over the past 12 years. I’ve lost count, and most probably won’t figure it out ever again. Still, I sometimes struggle so pin-point exactly where my life was influenced through camps. But I know that I wouldn’t have been where I am if it wasn’t for the camps I’ve attended. I met some of my best friends at camps. I made some of the most important decisions of my life while attending camps.
In A New Kind of Christian Brian Mclaren wrote something about going back to ancient spiritual practices, and then said that camping is the same kind of spiritual practice we find in the monastic tradition (I really do hope I’m quoting him correctly, it’s been more than a year since I’ve read that), where we take some time of out of our daily routine to get away and focus on God, or something like that.
I’ve been paging through Mark while writing, and it’s really interesting to see what the followers of Jesus remembered, and thus what they wrote in the gospels.
Mark 1 – Jesus go to the river Jordan to get baptized
Mark 6 – Jesus is teaching a large group of people at a remote place
Mark 9 – Jesus takes 3 of the disciples with him to the mountain, where they experience the glory of Jesus in a very unique way
Mark 10 – Jesus take the 12 disciples with him beside the road and teach them
I’m not very much into the kind of “Be a leader like Jesus” or “learn the personality of Jesus” kind of stuff, if you understand what I mean. But I do find it significant that the followers of Jesus remembered all these incidents where Jesus took them out of society, and thought them, or helped them to experience something of God. I also think that we get the same kind of thing when we take kids out of there environment, that they meet God in a very special way, and also learn from each other, or from leaders at camps, about God, and about following in the footsteps of Jesus.
The way we camp may change in the years to come, but the practice of taking time out from society, breaking our routine, getting away to learn about God, and to experience God, I believe is inherently part of out Christian spiritual formation, and we mustn’t ever loose that.
O, and just a last remark. I also think that the gospels make it clear that Jesus took his disciples out of society, and taught them, simply to send them back to society, Mark 6 and 16. That we also need to remember about camps, those attending camps need to be send back, to live out that which they have experienced at camp.