I write this blog to you from the corner of the snack shop at YouthFront Camp in Edgerton, Ks. I’ve had the privilege of being the camp pastor here for the last four years and it’s starting to feel like a second home.
They have great facilities, an excellent staff and some of the most unique programs I have every seen. But, probably the most ringing endorsement comes from my boys Noah and Nathan who say this is their “most favorite camp ever”, which is a huge statement because my boys… they’ve seen lot of camp.
When I ask what their favorite part is, it’s hard for them to decide:
- Is it the paramilitary game NIGHTSTRIKE played late at night when they cut all the lights at camp
- Is it the grossly enormous free standing water slide that has a 30 second drop
- Is it the 50s Pool Party, the Renaissance fair, the camp-wide shaving cream war, the daily HYPE sessions of dancing, goofy games and indoor dodgeball
- Is it the all access free pass they get to the snack shop as the camp pastor’s kids (I think this might be it, but that’s just me)
Whatever it is, I love doing this camp, because my kids love it so much. And, this camp is really unusual because of its facilities and programming.
However, there is one thing that makes this camp identical to the hundreds of other camps I have been to over the years… the kiddos.
It doesn’t matter how cool the staffers are, how impressive the facilities get, or how incredibly hilarious the speaker is (and he is amazing), none of it matters if real life change doesn’t take place in the life of the students. If there isn’t the planting of seeds, the watering of the work, or the harvesting…. Then all these kids did was have a fun week, er, in Jesus name.
And, the parents spent a whole lot of money.
This is the danger. We live in a culture that is so event driven that we often substitute events/programs/calendar milemarkers for real change. But, going to camp doesn’t guarantee spiritual maturity anymore than high school graduation guarantees people grow up.
On this issue I asked one of my mentors Dr. Chuck Stecker, the founder of A Chosen Generation Ministries to be a guest blogger on the subject of graduations and growing up. He has an incredible ministry of leading individuals and churches through ‘real’ rites of passage to true biblical maturity and adulthood.
This issue is too important to leave to chance, so, I introduce to you my friend and mentor Chuck Stecker:
Celebrating Graduations–Not Adulthood
Dr. Chuck Stecker
A Chosen Generation
For many graduation from high school serves as a ceremonial Rite of Passage into adulthood. It is a time for young men and women to leave the home in which they have been raised. The idea that this marks adulthood is normally based on a vacuum being filled. When there has not been a clear marking of adulthood accompanied by a distinct separation of adulthood and maturity, many are left with graduation from high school as their only choice until something better comes along.
Graduation should be to celebrate the accomplishment of completing four years of study and launching into another season in our son’s or daughter’s life. It is clearly a new season that should be marked with a greater level of “Spiritual Maturity” accompanied by a greater level of responsibility.
Regarding this issue of “Spiritual Maturity” there is a lack of understanding and ability of parents and leaders to present a clear and achievable definition for our sons and daughters.
A study was released on May 11, 2009 by the Barna Group (www.barna.org) that specifically addressed the problems we have in our families and churches in presenting a working definition of “Spiritual Maturity” that makes sense where we live, work, go to school and play. I was not shocked by the lack of understanding of this issue. As our ministry team has traveled this country sharing the importance of Rites of Passage into adulthood, the primary stumbling block for many parents and leaders has been that they cannot separate the issues of adulthood and spiritual maturity. As a result, adulthood is held hostage by many who feel that a person needs to be mature before they can be an adult.
Spiritual maturity is when through constant use and training and the power of the Holy Spirit, one discerns good from evil; courageously acts on the good and takes responsibility for their decisions.
The source for this definition is God’s Word—the Holy Bible. It is what we have called the Hebrews 5:14 principle and God uses the life of Jesus to clarify this issue.
If we allow graduation from high school to serve as the entry into adulthood, we position our youth to believe that adulthood is earned; and it will not take them very long to need a truth that this flawed understanding does not provide. Would that mean that should they graduate from college they will be more of an adult?
In conclusion, graduations are a wonderful time to celebrate the very important accomplishments of our young men and women. However, celebrations such as graduations should not replace the very critical Rite of Passage into adulthood that should precede high school graduation.
Celebrate … absolutely yes! Yet, do not use graduation to serve a purpose for which it was not intended—the Rite of Passage into adulthood.
Thanks Chuck. Whether its camp, graduation or some family experience unique to you and your clan I love what he says, “Celebrate … absolutely yes! Yet, do not use graduation to serve a purpose for which it was not intended—the Rite of Passage into adulthood.”
Just because because you buy the ticket doesn’t mean you actually made the trip. It’s important that we help our kiddos make the real journey into spiritual maturity and celebrate each step along the way.
At camp this week, Noah did something he had never done before, the ZIP LINE. Nathan had done it in the past, but it has loomed as something to be feared for Noah at every camp.
He claimed he was afraid of heights and he put it off for 3 of our 4 days, but eventually we made it to the ropes course.
He did it and I couldn’t be more proud. It was a moment of growth, a step forward, a celebration of bravery… I punched his man card.
You see, he just didn’t go to a camp with a zip line, he did the zip line… he took the plunge. You go my son:
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