Each spring many children leave school and head out to camp for the summer. However, for many disadvantaged kids, the possibility of having a summer of fun is not an option. With the help of The Salvation Army and donors in the community, we send kids to our summer camp near Lexington, Mississippi. The Salvation A rmy’s 300 acre Camp Hidden Lake helps disadvantaged boys and girls in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi open their eyes to a whole new world – THE NATURAL WORLD.
Summer camp is much more than a vacation. Camp Hidden Lake teaches kids new skills, healthy attitudes, and great values. Camp Hidden Lake offers sports, music, Bible Study, arts and crafts, swimming, fishing, and other activities for school aged youngsters in our community.
Long hot summer days, a dip in the pool, star-filled nights, camp fires, roasted marshmallows, pillow fights, cabin devotions, emblem work, seeing old friends, making new ones. Expanding horizons and creating memories.
That’s what camp is about. For more than 100 years, The Salvation Army has recognized the value of camping. It has witnessed the difference it can make in people’s lives. For an underprivileged child who’s only known city concrete, the blare of car horns and whirl of mass transit, it opens a whole new world. For a single mother it represents a cherished respite and bonding time with her children. For older adults camp symbolizes independence, a trip down memory lane and desperately needed companionship.
There are camps where kids learn the basics of playing a horn and camps where advanced musicians refine their craft. Teen camps feature organized sports, interesting programs and classes addressing life issues to help them navigate through challenging years. Children who participate in The Salvation Army’s character-building ministries in their own hometowns come to camp to learn new skills and increase their knowledge while having fun earning emblems.
A few camps are highly specialized and deal with unique and sensitive situations. For instance, a camp called PAL in Missouri helps kids referred by the juvenile courts to refocus their lives and get to know law enforcement officials as people who care about their community. Another camp in Kansas reunites siblings in foster care to maintain balance and hope in difficult circumstances. There are many short-term camps for those who are in Salvation Army rehabilitation programs working at overcoming their addictions. In these places of quiet and beauty, they engage in honest reflection and many experience a spiritual rebirth that helps give them the strength they need to start over.
There are more than 50 Salvation Army camps throughout the United States. Each one is unique to its geographical area, but they meet high standards in housing, nutrition and safety according to the Christian Camping Association or the American Camping Association. Salvation Army camps are attended by more than 100,000 people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels each year. The camps are conducted by competent staffs of dedicated Christians who serve together throughout the summer and are committed to making the camping experience special for each individual.
As in all of its programs, The Salvation Army views camping holistically, a ministry that addresses the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of people. After camp The Salvation Army continues its care for individuals and families at the local level primarily through its corps community centers.
The variety of camps is amazing, but they all provide a gorgeous setting, a caring environment and activities that enrich life. Whether learning to swim, baiting a hook for the first time or discovering new wonders while hiking a nature trail, learning is a big part of the camp experience. Along the way many learn something even more wonderful. They learn about themselves?how very special they are. And in the process they gain self-confidence, enthusiasm and courage. They also learn about community. They begin to understand the importance of working together for a common good, pulling together for something bigger than themselves. And they learn about God and the difference He can make in their lives and in their world. There’s a great big world out there just waiting to be discovered! Camp is a great place to start.