Summer Camp

All the signs are pointing to the fact that spring is on the way and summer can’t be far behind.  I have seen some birds that are already starting to fly back toward the north, and this past Sunday was the celebration of the time change.  Then we will have an early Easter and the warm, wonderful days of summer should be right upon us.  The reason I’m telling you this is so you can gear up or help the folks in your church who are working with children and youth, especially, to get ready for the camps that will be ready for them.

I remember summer after summer we would be getting ready to go to camp and how excited I was.  I think the dominant feeling in my life was how wonderful it was to get away from my family, my mom and dad and my brothers.  What a fantastic thing to have several consecutive days away from all of them.  Now, I realize they must have been overjoyed at the fact that I would be gone and they would be by themselves and away from me sending me off to camp.  But we both benefited.  It must have been peace at home.  It was good for both of us, and I am sure they, along with me, must have been exuberant and filled with incredible joy as they said goodbye to me and I said goodbye to them.  I can still remember as though it was just a few years ago, loading up the cars with a bunch of 9 and 10 year old boys and heading off to camp.  We were so excited as we anticipated the fun and the good times that camp would bring.  What we did not know was how much God was involved in us going, and Him going with us, and what He would do as He worked in our hearts and lives during those days.

Looking back those decades ago it becomes obvious that these were God moments in some kids’ lives, for some of us had trusted Jesus as our Savior and were on those early days of trying to live for him.  Others would make that decision for Christ at camp, and all of us would be drawn into encounters with our Lord that seemed to be indelibly printed on our minds and hearts, and that so many years later was still vividly with us.  Those experiences were so life transforming and life shaping for me that I just feel compelled to write and encourage you to help your boys and girls to take advantage of the Baptist camps and conference centers here in Mississippi at Garaywa and Central Hills.

We are blessed in our state to have two Baptist conference and retreat centers that are available and operate year round, but during the summer especially are camps with a cause.  In fact, the cause at Garaywa and Central Hills is in fact the cause of Christ.  The reason I’m giving you a heads up about the camps is so that you can begin right now to get a group of boys and girls to focus on a date and connect them with the camps.  If you will do that, helping and encouraging your workers to help and encourage the young people to come to camp, it can be one of the most wonderful memories of this coming summer.  Actually, it can be one of the most wonderful memories of a lifetime.

For me as a youngster, getting to go to camp in the summer was one of my fondest memories.  I think about the fun and games and crafts and activities that we had that have stayed a part of the fabric of my life all these years.  I think about the inspirational moments that not only touched my heart, but literally shaped my life as we would hear messages from missionaries around the world and from pastors who lovingly presented the message of Jesus to all of us.  Just so you will clearly understand how important camp is, last summer just in the summer camping months, over 300 boys and girls came to know Jesus as Savior.  I’m talking about eternal things and eternal destiny changed because of Jesus and because someone cared enough to help get these children to camp.  It is no insignificant thing; it is a monumental thing.

Here’s what I need you to do.  If you don’t have anyone in your family, a boy or girl or a youth, who could attend camp, well, that’s fine; you can still pause and ask God’s blessing upon the kids who will be under the sound of the Gospel and in the care of capable staff.  But beyond that, some of you can do another wonderful thing, and that is to help the kids get to the camp.  You may not be able to drive a group of them to camp, but you can pray for them.  You may even have a child in your church or someone you know and are aware that they cannot afford for a child to go to camp and you could quietly, discreetly provide the funds so that they could go.  That boy or girl would be blessed and you would certainly be blessed beyond measure.

I thank all of you who have helped financially to make the camp experience in Mississippi incredible through your faithful, consistent giving to the Margaret Lackey State Mission Offering.  A portion of that offering each year goes to provide for the camps so that anyone who wants to go we can help to go because we care.  For literally thousands of children, your prayers and your care will make an eternal difference in their lives.

If you or your church wants to get more information about summer camp for your children or students, please visit or call Central Hills at 662-289-9730 or Garaywa Camp and Conference Center at 601-924-7034.

The author can be contacted at

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer