By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (August 30, 2012) – Ever since the Association of Covenant Camps and Conference Centers started taking mission offerings for camps around the world 20 years ago, attendees have been eager to give. This year, the offerings from the multi-year projects topped a total of $1 million.
“Translated into Atomic Fireballs (candy), this represents 10,554,088 fireballs, which if laid side by side would stretch over 166.5 miles,” said Bruce Lawson, manager of camping and special projects for the Department of Christian Formation.
Lawson noted that the very first offering paid to bring electricity to a camp in Ecuador in 1993. The offering for this year’s project will help to remodel and add facilities at that camp.
The camping association works with the Department of World Mission to select a project each year. World Mission develops supporting resources to help campers learn about the needs there and how their gifts will help.
The project has supported camping in Ecuador, Congo, Alaska, Mountain Mission in Virginia, Japan, Russia, South Sudan, Chile, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, and Colombia, Lawson said.
It has also prompted the Covenant camps to organize mission trips to Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and Thailand.
For 12 years, 10 percent was given to Global Outreach, an arm of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, to support leader development for camping in Russia.
Missionary Leonid Regheta said the offerings have enabled Christian camping ministries to start sites in Russia. This year, camps in the Southern Ural Region of Russia ministered to more 620 teenagers, youth, and children.
“Camps took place in Nizhniy Tagil, Marinka, Zarechnyi, Polevskoi, Pervouralsk, Bogdanovich, Asbest, Perm, and others were scheduled,” he wrote on his Facebook site.
David Cairns, executive director of Pilgrim Pines Conference Center in West Swanzey, New Hampshire, has traveled to Russia three times in recent years to help train and exchange ideas with leaders there. He met with 70 leaders in May.
The mission offerings do more than benefit camps around the world, Lawson said. “It is one of the ways that camps encourage Christian leader development. The campers come to camp with money in their pockets or on their canteen cards and they have the power to choose how to spend it without any guidance from parents.
“It is exciting to see campers learn about the project and choose to give their canteen money to help someone else through the mission offering instead of buying candy and pop for themselves.”
Dave Nesburg, executive director of Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp in Onekama, Michigan, said, “Camp is kind of a farm team for many ministries including mission. Campers are introduced to missions at camp and many follow that by going on mission trips, continuing to support missions, or even considering becoming a missionary.”
People of all ages have been inspired to give. John Gehring, executive director of Alpine Covenant Conference Center in Blue Jay, California, noted that retired missionaries Russ and Pat Camp served as camp grandparents to Alpine’s Indian Village Camp. “They were so impressed that the children were giving to a camp in Ecuador, they took a poster back to Mount Miguel Retirement Community to raise more funds there!”