So what does Camp Solgohachia "do" for a camper?
My wife and I are bombarded with choices of things for our kids to "do," and as a result we have to consider what all of the "doing" actually "does" for our kids. Will this or that thing help them get into a good college? Prepare them for the next educational, sports or social challenge? Give them an edge in some way? Build their faith?
I'm obviously biased, but I can say this with complete honesty: when I was a child, a week of camp "did" more for me as a human being than a week of anything else. Period. It impacted every category of my life--educational, social, relational, emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, psychological. What other week long experience "does" that?
It's impossible to quantify what a Camp Solgohachia experience means for a young person and all they will take away from a week on our mountain, but here's a shot.
1. Freedom to be Happy. Our camp culture is about being free to just be yourself, without the pressure to perform, pose or be someone you're not.
Discovering who we really are, who God made us to be, and feeling the freedom and courage to enjoy that, is one of the happiest experiences any human can have. Even as adults we still perform, for others and for God, for approval, acceptance or affirmation. That's not freedom. And the sooner we get comfortable being who God made us to be, the better.
I've seen it now thousands of times, and experienced it myself, summer after summer. With each passing day, more and more freedom, bigger and bigger smiles, louder and louder laughter. Until that last day when they are squeezing our necks goodbye with tears rolling down their face, as if we've been friends forever. That's freedom. That's happiness.
2. Mentorship. Being guided, loved and encouraged by young adults who you want to grow up and be like might be the one of most rare and valuable things around.
Where else does this happen? As a parent of campers, I have loved that my children are exposed to young adults who seriously love them, are praying for them, are playing with them and are so incredibly fun and full of the life of Jesus. They are some of my kids' heroes. My kids need to see and know young adults, who are only a little further down the road than they are, who, although not perfect, are so happy following Jesus and swimming upstream from the culture around them--and thriving.
It has been 40 years since I was a camper, and I can name countless names of counselors who did that for me. And I am still friends with many of those "Jesus Movement" young people who are still going strong. What an inspiration they have been to me, even in my adult years.
3. Authentic Friendships. Without a doubt, camp friends often become your very best lifelong friends.
There is just something about sharing a camp experience that marks you with another person for life, sort of like becoming a "Band of Brothers and Sisters."
In my own experience, distance and years have not quenched those friendships. Today some of my very best friends were people I met as campers or worked with as counselors. They've been in my wedding; we've vacationed together; encouraged one another through trials; celebrated together; worked in vocation and ministry together; the list goes on.
These friendships are not based on passing interests or "What can I get out of this person," but true, heart friendships. Camp is such a great place to foster that, maybe the best culture I've ever found for it.
One of the most satisfying things for me to see now at Camp Solgohachia, are those campers who met at camp as 3rd graders from all different parts of Arkansas and beyond, became friends, and now work together as counselors as 11th graders. We'll see lots of those reunions this summer, and I can't wait.
4. God Moments. Camp Solgohachia is unapologetically a Mountaintop Experience.
The very core of what we are about is creating context for kids, students and adults to get away from the normal routine and find space to connect with Christ. We all need this boost, this refreshment. It only makes it better when virtually everyone around you is moving in that same direction. And at Camp Solgohachia, that's what everyone is doing.
The funny thing is that, at least at Camp Solgohachia, you hardly notice "when" it's happening, because it is in the very fiber of our DNA. But when the week is over, and you look back, you're a different person. Like a plant nursery where seeds are carefully planted and nurtured in a safe environment, our mountain is a safe, nurturing environment where spiritual growth thrives.
As a camper, I had no church experience in the year. Camp was my complete discipleship experience. Each summer I climbed that mountain, breathed in the fresh air of the Kingdom Culture, and did my best to hold on until I was back again. It certainly wasn't the ideal circumstance, but it was all I had--and God used it to drastically change my life.
5. Unplugged Adventures. The most plugged-in generation ever must get outside. It's as simple as that.
Believe it. A week of no devices. No computer. No internet. No screens. It's not that hard. No one else has them either!
We have 325 acres of gorgeous mountaintop to explore and experience new adventures. A week at Camp Solgohachia is packed with outdoor activities that are wildly fun, build confidence, create challenge and often result in massive smiles, belly laughter and the satisfaction of having accomplished something for the first time ever.
There is just something about being in the middle of the vastness of God's creation, riding a wagon and night and staring at the Milky Way. Or sitting with a crowd of kids your age, watching the sun set over the river valley, and worshiping the One who made it all. You know you will never forget that moment.
So what does Camp Solgohachia "do" for your kids? All this, and so much more. Please find out more about our camp program at www.campsolgohachia.com.