Life lessons from summer camp

A Christian Science perspective.

I think it was the summer when I was 11. I didn’t wonder much about it at the time, but my parents must have scrimped and saved every penny to send my brother, my sister, and me to summer camp. Contrary to parental expectations, I thrived there. Being away from home? Not a problem. And all the activities – swimming, archery, overnights at a “haunted” house, and – most of all – horseback riding, were wonderful. Even the square-dancing was OK.

The American Camp Association notes, “Camp – It’s
Good For Life,” and they go on to say: “Camp is an experience every child deserves. And there’s nothing quite like watching a child’s face light up with the joy of discovering new friends, the pride of accomplishment, and the wonder that nature offers.”

Camp provides an opportunity for children and teens to be independent, while at the same time giving them a support system; it offers new experiences and healthy risk-taking, while keeping them safe. It’s one way to value young people, and help them develop physical as well as mental and spiritual qualities that can change their lives.

There are other ways to develop these qualities, and our prayers can support progress for all children, even those who don’t get to go to camp. No one can be cut off from God’s goodness, because all are precious to their divine Parent. Under God’s care no one can be denied the opportunity to grow and flourish.

Jesus made this quite clear during his ministry. When the disciples tried to keep children from him, he replied, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).

God’s grace and tender love are never partial or partisan. “Father-Mother,” explains Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, “is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. As the apostle expressed it in words which he quoted with approbation from a classic poet: ‘For we are also His offspring’ ” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332). Every child is God’s child, nurtured and cherished every moment by Him and endowed with every freedom – and with every discipline – that is needed to enable each child to express God-given talents and goodness.

While we can’t necessarily provide scholarships to summer camp for every child whose life would be enriched by the experience, we can recognize in prayer that each individual is cared for by his or her Father-Mother God. Such prayer does not set out to take children out of bad situations and move them to the arms of divine Love; rather, it acknowledges that each one is already in those arms.

Divine Love can strengthen children in broken homes, desperate financial circumstances – or any other trouble – to reach higher, to feel cherished, even when human nurturing seems totally absent. It is a sure guide to progress.

All God’s children – including adults – are valued, loved, and needed. Through our prayers, we can bring to light the special talents their Father-Mother has given each one from the beginning.

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