I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. As far back as I can remember, my family went to Silver Lake Wesleyan Camp. First, for Family Camp, then as soon as I was old enough, for Kids Camps and Youth Camps, and eventually, as a staff member. Camp was a formative part of my growing up, socially and spiritually. Almost all of the turning points in my Christian walk took place at the altar rail at the front of the Tabernacle at Silver Lake.
So, when my oldest daughter, Valerie, was born in 2008, I tried to figure out how impractical it would be to go to my camp in Canada, now that we lived in the Philadelphia area. Unfortunately, no matter how many ways I looked at it, the travel was just going to be too much to make it a regular thing. I longed for my daughter to have the same Camp experience I had growing up, but the commute was just too long. So, I did what any good geek would do, and I went to Google. I punched “Christian Camps” into Google Maps, and I clicked on every one that came up within a two hour radius.
I was sad to discover that hardly any Christian campgrounds seem to run a camp for families. There is something unique about going through that camp experience as a family, and it always seemed to me, as a child, that the adults got just as much out of camp as the kids (if not more!) Then I stumbled on Delanco Camp. Not only did their Camp Meeting sound like it would be exactly what we were looking for, but it was only an hour away, and extremely affordable! I called the camp and registered our family right away.
This year was our third year going to Delanco Camp Meeting. Valerie is almost four, now, and Dorothy (our second-born) is 20 months old. They took to camp this year like fish to water. Every kid at camp was their best friend, and before I finished eating any meal, someone was begging me to release my kids so they could go play with them.
Every evening, there was a service at 7:30, and a concurrent children’s church program that I was really on the fence about letting Valerie attend. She’s normally in bed by 7:30, and she’s younger than most of the other kids, and I wasn’t sure she would be able to sit through it. But I went with her the first night, and she was enthralled. She went back on her own almost every other night, and at the end of camp, when I asked her what her favorite part of camp was, she answered, unequivocally, “Mr. Julio!”
So, after a few nights of settling kids into their various programs, I actually got to sit through the evening services every night. I got to listen, and take notes, and not be distracted every seven seconds by a small child needing something! (If that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, you’re probably not the mother of two small children.)
The speaker for the evening services, Jim Rudd, challenged me on a very personal level. The second biggest turning point of my personal Christian life took place this week, at the altar rail of the Delanco Camp Tabernacle. But that’s a whole other story.
So, what about the rest of the day? What’s Camp Meeting all about? Why would you spend your precious vacation days going to camp, just to go to church every night? (Personal aside: My husband doesn’t get many vacation days, either, but he commutes to work from Delanco every day – it’s less than an hour from center city Philadelphia.)
Well, on a practical level, it’s one of the easiest vacations you’ll ever take. Someone else cooks three hot meals a day (plus an evening snack!) and all you have to do is show up to the dining hall, eat, and clear your table when you’re done.
Then there’s the setting. The campground is beautiful! There’s turtles to feed, frogs to catch, a beach for swimming, a million wild blueberry bushes (which just happened to be in season the week of Camp Meeting), and enough kids running around to keep each other so busy that they forget about TV almost completely.
But that’s not even the biggest reason. Vacations are usually about Me. About taking a break from My busy schedule, recovering from My busy job, getting away from My daily life. And those things are good, but how much greater is a vacation that is all about God? Sitting around the dinner table with brothers and sisters in Christ, in fellowship even while discussing the most trivial topics, like the weather. Dropping the kids off for their morning VBS program, and, instead of rushing around to cross as many things as possible off your to-do list while they are learning about God, being able to just sit down with a notebook and a Bible and some amazing Christian men and women, to study and learn and grow in your own faith. Going to sleep every night with a song in your heart, and eternal thoughts buzzing in your head, instead of grocery lists. That’s what Camp Meeting is all about.
Have a testimony to share about your time at Camp Meeting this year? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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