How to Fail at Church Camps


Summer is church camp season. Boys and girls on break from school are packed onto crowded vehicles and dropped off with their suitcase at a lakeside dorm. We hope something good will happen at camp.

  1. What is the stated purpose, mission, vision of your camp? Without a direction, the camp will be controlled by the strongest personalities in the group, perhaps even the most carnal person of the group. I have heard camp stories that sounded like a missing chapter from The Lord of the Flies (wrong Lord).
  2. Are unqualified leaders treated as counselors at your church camp? Scripture says that a companion of fools will be destroyed. A good parent would not let a stranger babysit their children without proper credentials and references. Camps do not exclusively employ mature leadership. Campers are vulnerable. Campers have been known to become attached to their group leader based upon age and appearance. That good-looking young leader may not possess a pure heart, a good conscience or a sincere faith. They may not have a good grasp of sound doctrine or appropriate behavior.
  3. Are there cult-like persuasion techniques at your church camp?
    • Removal from normality of life
    • Isolation from parents and family
    • Denial of outside communication and contact
    • Extreme peer group pressure
    • “Love bombing” to produce rapid emotional bonding
    • Denial of personal privacy for sleeping or bathing
    • Unquestioned acceptance of new values and suppression of dissent
    • Self-criticism encouraged and rewarded
    • Obligatory participation in activities, never left alone
    • Activities designed to result in public humiliation in front of peers
    • Loss of free time
    • Reduced time for rest resulting in sleep deprivation and fatigue
    • Change of diet, fasting
    • Unorthodox rules and traditions enforced uncompromisingly
    • Loud repetitive music intended to create an altered state of consciousness
    • Compulsion to confess intimate personal failures and weaknesses
    • Compulsion to give financially
  4. Do the daytime activities encourage the pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness or are they foolish, unholy, coarse and carnal? True spirituality shouldn’t need to be switched on for evening vespers.
  5. Do campers display a godly change when they return home? Campers should not return home with an attitude of arrogance. “I’m spiritually superior to you now.”

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. (1 Corinthians 11:17)