By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
JARRETTSVILLE, Md.—As the school years start to wind down, it is not unusual for girls and boys and their parents to start planning their summer adventures. For many, the highlight of the year is their summer camp.
This is especially true for Lindsay Roberts, a sophomore at the University of Maryland in College Park. Since third grade, when she attended the Mother/Daughter Camp, she hasn’t missed a single summer camp.
Even after graduating high school she came back, this time as a camp counselor.
She says being a counselor allows her to experience “the fun all over again, but I get to see the joy on all the girls’ faces. I plan my whole summer around camp!”
Roberts still remembers a camp song, written in Arabic, that she learned from a missionary who shared one summer.
Intentionally missions-oriented, the Boys’ and Girls’ camps include time with real life missionaries (sometimes in person, sometimes through Skype), worship, quiet times, crafts, games, skits, and plenty of outdoor activities, such as, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and hayrides.
What Roberts likes most is “being surrounded by good Christian role models in the fun camp atmosphere.”
“It’s a great experience,” she said.
For Kyle Arnett, the camp was life changing.
His greatest camp memory occurred when he was a third grader. On the last night when he and his fellow campers sat around a campfire, Arnett became a Christian.
“I lived with a Christian family all my life, but all the events of the camp hit me, and I wanted to give my life to Christ,” said Arnett, now a senior at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md.
Since then, he has gone to at least four more “extremely enjoyable and outdoorsy” camps, most recently as a Counselor-in-Training (CIT).
The camps are held at Camp Wo-Me-To, which comprises nearly 150 acres of hills and woodlands in Harford County, Md.
The site borders the 855-acre Rocks State Park and is secluded from the main highways. There are several cabins, a chapel and a dining hall, among other amenities. And because there is electricity, there is air conditioning. There is even a 120-foot water slide!
The camp is owned and operated by Woman’s Missionary Union of Maryland/Delaware, an auxiliary of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
BCM/D’s annual State Missions Offering supports the three summer camps, including the mother/daughter overnight camp for girls entering grades kindergarten through third grade and their moms or substitute moms; a girls’ camp for girls entering fourth through twelfth grade; and a boys’ camp for boys in first through sixth grade.
Typically 50 girls and their moms come to the mother/daughter camp, which is designed to give them an opportunity to experience a sample of what the weeklong girls’ camp is like. Around 175 girls come to the full-week girls’ camp and around 75 boys come to the boys’ camp.
Tim Arnett, Kyle’s father, has directed the boys’ camp for the past 20 years. Typically around 20 men volunteer alongside him to lead nonstop action, with as many as 22 activities a day for the boys.
“We keep it structured, because the kids need boundaries, and they thrive in the safe environment with all the men there to help them,” he said, adding, “These are Christian men who, one minute share from the Bible with the boys, and the next minute are throwing them a ball.”
Noting that not all the boys have that type of relationship at home, the elder Arnett said that many of the children develop strong bonds both with their mentors and with each other.
“By the time camp is over, all the boys who come from all over Maryland and Delaware are good friends with each other,” he said.
All three camps offer the opportunity for children to be away from outside influences and have time to focus on God, and hear His call in their lives.
Each group of campers also work on a missions project, ranging from clearing hiking trails, beautifying the camp, or collecting supplies for a children’s home or another mission outreach.
In addition to this hands-on ministry, the children are taught how to share their testimonies, memorize scripture and for the girls, enjoy a variety of cultural experiences, such as a poverty simulation experience, a Muslim prayer tea, or a fiesta night.
To learn more about this year’s camps, visit online at www.bcmd.org.