As district supervisors and NextGen representatives prepare for this year’s camping season, they share a growing expectancy about what God will do in the lives of campers. They say this year’s camps could hold bigger surprises than ever before.
“God is taking us out of the ordinary into the extraordinary,” declares Southeast District Supervisor Scott Reece.” He says even if a person has been going to camp for years, “this is a new season of God doing fresh things in you and through you … get ready!”
Foursquare leaders believe that district camps will flourish in 2011. Many of the camps will rally around exciting, single-word themes that incite youth to spiritual action: “Awakening,” “Arise,” “Encounter,” “Unstoppable,” “Freedom” and “Go!”
For the third year in a row, the Central Pacific District will host a camp for young adults called the “Speak to Me Retreat.” Two of the camps hosted by the Southeast District this year will be designed so that families may participate together, if they desire. Some districts will sponsor camps specifically designed just for kids from ministry families.
Reaching More Campers
This year, individual districts will host as many as a dozen different camps each, ranging from one-day retreats to weeklong sessions that they hope will attract an increasing number of campers. Justice Coleman, NextGen rep for the Greater Los Angeles District, says 65 percent of their campers in 2010 had never been to camp before. He hopes this trend continues in 2011.
Pacific Coast and Valleys District’s NextGen rep, John Cox, is planning for 2,200 campers to attend their camps, exceeding last year’s attendance by 10 percent. But, John says, it’s not just about increased attendance; they are praying for a comparable increase in spiritual decisions during camp this year.
Jake Cordell, NextGen rep of the Southeast District, anticipates similar growth in camper responses. Leaders in his district believe children who come to camp will experience the “awe and wonder of God.” He says they plan to challenge the older kids to grapple with the question of who Jesus is to them, personally.
In the six camps the MidAtlantic District will host this year, NextGen Rep Lesli Klingenmeier prays “for kids to have authentic Holy Spirit encounters, and opportunities to see breakthrough and healing in their lives.”
Hearing From God
“Large numbers of pastors and missionaries have received their call at camp,” says Adam Davidson, director of operations for The Foursquare Church. This trend continues today. During Foursquare camps nationwide last year, 1,352 young people responded to the call to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. Adam is convinced that “the Foursquare camping ministry has God’s hand upon it.”
A primary goal for camps in the Northeast District, according to Ministry Coordinator Isaac Davis, is that campers will believe the promise of Jesus in John 14:12, and that they will step out in the “greater works” the Lord has for them to do. Other district leaders anticipate increased spiritual results, as well.
“We are believing God,” says Southwest District’s NextGen rep, Marcus Ellington, “that campers will take the next step this year—letting go of anything that inhibits them—and stepping out into the calling God has on their lives.”
Last year, 1,500 campers made first-time decisions for Christ, and 2,093 others rededicated their lives to Christ during Foursquare camps. In addition, around 2,000 campers received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and 1,385 people said they were healed during camp.
“We are raising up the next generation of The Foursquare Church right here and now,” Gateway District’s NextGen rep, Shawn Michael Shoup, says of the 10 camps his district will sponsor this year.
Adam Davidson agrees. “There is no other ministry event,” he affirms, "that can capture the attention of our children and youth [like] our camping program.”
Additionally, God uses Foursquare camps to build strong networks of local church NextGen reps. Relationships built during camp tend to last a lifetime. They also help reinforce ministry priorities, Justice Coleman notes. He says the camp experience helps leaders properly focus on “the importance of discipleship, teaching theology and doctrine, and resourcing each other as a network.”
NextGen reps spend a great deal of time and prayer in the selection of camp speakers who will reinforce Foursquare values during camp. Josh Pinkston, NextGen rep of the Central Pacific District, will use speakers from within the Foursquare family for the nine camps in his district this year.
“The fellowship and unity experienced at camps and retreats with Foursquare speakers,” Josh contends, “has been vital to the momentum we are now enjoying within our district.”
Foursquare supervisors and NextGen reps agree that Foursquare camping continues to make a significant impact on each new generation of campers. Further, they believe this year’s camping season has all the makings to be like no other. As Scott Reece puts it: Those who participate will experience a “God surprise” at camp this year. That kind of expectation must mean God is up to something big.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles