A Psalm of Lament for Presbyteries and Other Judicatories Who Sell off Summer Camps

I just spent a week at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, a camp that is growing and flourishing and providing a space to live in Christian community and revel in God’s creation. Far too many Presbyteries and other denominational entities are exercising extreme short-sightedness by letting go of their camps. It is to them that I dedicate the following psalm–or at least I’m calling it an psalm. Purists may challenge my form.

Woe to you who yearn for more children in the church, yet sell off the places where faith and fun go hand in hand

Ah, the irony that those who lament the exodus of young adults from the church jettison the places where those same young adults might work and serve in a Christian community and share and grow their faith.

How sad that those who believe that the current generation is doomed to be glued to their devices, and yet they let go of the places where interactive has an entirely different meaning.

Sorrow for those who teach creation care but dispose of places where people can practice it.

Bless the hearts of those who think that the traditional church model is the future of Christianity and discount the value of places that give us a different and broader view of what it means to be the church.

May God have mercy on the souls of those who cannot see that the kingdom of God looks a lot like summer camp where play and praise and faith and fun are lived out in Christian community.


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3 thoughts on “A Psalm of Lament for Presbyteries and Other Judicatories Who Sell off Summer Camps”

  1. What does one do…or a conference do…when there is not enough money coming in to keep the camp open? Let alone do the basic maintenance projects, let alone improve the site to keep up with other camps in the area?

    ANd I’m not talking about losing campers to lacrosse, soccer, dance..e.tc…camps as that is another issue. I’m just talking about finances to keep the camp open.

    1. I think it’s about priorities. Many Presbyteries/conferences who have “not had” money to support camps for young people have churches where 10 to 12 people gather for worship once a week on properties that are worth a great deal of money. If we really are about keeping the church alive and sharing the good news, it’s time to let go of the places that are dying and channel resources and energy in to places where we can disciple the next generation. I know that’s far easier to say than to do, but I think hospice-ing churches at the expense of what could be vital ministries is the ultimate example of poor stewardship.

  2. Money is rarely the issue. In my 35 years of camp ministry, it is almost always about control. When children come from parents and churches but money is only allowed to be available through middle governing agencies (like presbyteries), there will always be a shortage of money. When pastors are told that they need to use vacation time to visit kids from their church at camp rather than spending the week with their kids as part of their pastoral duties, there will always be a lake of support and understanding.
    However, when camps can ask individual churches to help support and individuals in the churches and when pastors participate and socialize with the children in an informal setting both camps and churches thrive.
    This is just my experience. I love the psalm of lament for camp!

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