Campers grapple with nature, values
Over The Fig Tree's 35 years, dynamics of camping and retreats for faith communities have changed in some ways and remained the same in other ways.
Camp facilities are less rustic and offer more motel-style rooms, so the grounds can be used for year-round retreats for adults and intergenerational groups from congregations, nonprofits and businesses, as well as summer camps for children, youth and families. but it's still an integral part of outreach to youth with a goal of faith formation and relationship building.
Camping is as vital to churches as ever, but there is more competition in summer for the time and attention of youth, said John Batchelder, executive director of Ross Point on the Spokane River at Post Falls.
Because many parents of younger children had no camp experience, it's not a priority for them, he said. "Parents who went to camp are likely to send their children."
Some feel uncomfortable about packing, leaving home, meeting new people, disrupting routines and dealing with "nuisances" of nature like bugs or poison ivy.
A recent American Camping Association article, however, extolled the vital role of camping in gaining decision-making skills, community building, managing conflicts and developing resilience. John said those are innate values of camp as people live in community with people they didn't know before. They gain skills for adulthood."
Another draw of camp is lifelong friendships as camps "bring people together in short-term community," John said. "Every year, campers come back to see their friends."
Most who go to Ross Point relate to American Baptist or other churches. For three of five weeks in the summer, 250 elementary through high school youth come to camps Ross Point organizes. Two weeks, they organize a family camp and Camp Journey for children with cancer. The other five weeks, Ross Point hosts other groups.
Each year, Ross Point adds activities, like elements to its ropes course for skill and relationship building. It has a 38-foot climbing tower, swimming and canoeing.
Through the year, Ross Point hosts retreats and conferences on weekends and midweek.
For information, call 208-773-1655 or visit rosspoint.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2019