Are We There Yet?

It’s a question that’s been asked by millions of children (and adults if we are being honest) over the years. “Are we there yet?” At some point in our lives, we have all been guilty of asking this timeless travel question.

sad kid tired of trip

As an event planner, you spend countless hours planning the activities your participants will experience during your program. But, have you ever thought about what you might plan for your guests to experience prior to the event, such as during their travel to the host location?

Constructing travel kits for a family camp or family-friendly conference is a great way to provide an extra personal touch, a chance to get your guests engaged before their arrival and something fun to do while traveling. You can easily ship these in small boxes a few weeks prior or hand them out if your participants are coming from a single location.

Here are a few ideas of items to include to make your family travel kits a great success:

  • Car window markers: Prior to their arrival at your conference, families can decorate their car windows. You can even give out prizes to the “best decorated windows” during your opening session.
  • Travel games: Include copies of fun travel games such as a “Road Trip Scavenger Hunt” or the “License Plate States” game. Again, these are things you can award prizes for during the opening session if you let your attendees know to turn these in upon their arrival.
  • Snacks: Simple bagged snacks such as pretzels, crackers and candy are easy to include in travel kits. Be mindful of any special diets and/or allergies your guests may have.
  • Team storytelling: Include a few story prompts where each family member can add a line. A possible example is, “There once was a family who took a trip to camp…” Then let each family member add a line to the story and see how it unfolds.
  • Discussion questions: Include a few questions to help engage families in conversation as they travel. These could be funny questions and also questions relating to the theme of your event.
  • A few extras: In addition to these things, you can also provide small items such as stickers, paper, pens, etc.

Traveling can be a stressful part of attending a camp or conference. By providing something as simple as a travel kit, you can help alleviate a bit of the “are we there yet” syndrome and hopefully have families arrive ready and excited about the event.

Time Out For Renewal

FamilyCamps_Pic_150x150.jpgAs many of us know well, it’s way too easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of today’s wired-in lifestyle. We get so focused on the next meeting, the next phone call, the next tweet or status update, that we forget the things that are really important.

Many times what gets forgotten, or pushed to the side, are our families. The following post was written by John Ashman. John is currently the Executive Director of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and prior to that was a VP with Christian Camps and Conference Association.

As you read it I would encourage you to think about your own family. Do you need to take some time out and renew your relationships. As you’ll see from this mom’s perspective, family camp is a great place to do just that.

Camp is a refreshing stream along life’s journey…

Laura eased open the screen door and stretched out in the rocking chair, favorite book in hand. Out on the lake, silhouetted by Monday’s sunrise, the canoe carrying her husband and two daughters glided silently through the water. A smile spread across her face as she imagined their conversation.

An earlier rain had refreshed the forest and the fragrance brought back some wonderful childhood memories. Overhead, two squirrels debated the ownership of a cache of acorns. The family from the cabin next door waved good morning and wandered off along the path to the point.

This placid camp setting was a welcome contrast to her familiar suburban scene. She glanced at her watch. Still 40 minutes ’til breakfast. She took another sip of coffee and closed her eyes. This was going to be a wonderful week.

At the urging of some friends from church, Laura’s family had decided to spend these six days at a Christian family camp. The place offered cabin or lodge accommodations, three family-style meals a day, horseback riding, biking, hiking trails, a challenge course, dirtboarding, fishing, canoeing, swimming, beach volleyball, a well-known Christian band, an impressive list of speakers, and more.

But the part of the brochure that caught Laura’s attention was “time out from the rush of life for spiritual renewal.” She needed that, and so did her family, much more than anyone knew.

Finding Time
These days, few of us wash dishes in the sink and ponder the world through the kitchen window. Instead, we stack the plates and utensils in the Maytag and rush to the next task. Come end of day, rather than sit on the front porch and contemplate, we click the mouse or remote and “process.” We live in a hurried, harried world. Freeways, cell phones, business appointments, micro-waves, school functions, online transactions, late-night news, and alarm systems form the borders of our behavior.

Our children aren’t strangers to stress, either. Pushed by parents or peers to perform beyond their years, they’re rushed into maturity by Madison Avenue and the media. It’s no wonder many kids emerge from their teen years frustrated, fearful, and fatigued.

Just over the hill, across the meadow, or through the woods, Christian camps are offering experiences that can arrest our runaway routines. Spending a week at a Christian camp, or conference center, will not immediately unbundle the anxiety of the twenty-first century lifestyle, but it will provide a refreshing break with a chance to relax, reflect, recreate, and re-evaluate priorities.

Time, which seems to be a rare commodity in the “real world,” is abundant at camp. There’s time to eat together, play together, and talk together. Parents can use time to assess family progress and form new goals. Kids can spend time enjoying the miscellaneous pastimes of childhood. So much can get done when there’s nothing pressing to do.

Finding God
At camp, God does not hide in the chapel, waiting for the evening service so He can reveal Himself. His presence permeates the program and property. God speaks on the ropes course, helping people discover the truth about trust. He’s present on the trail, teaching people through the intricacies of nature. He’s there in the person of a child’s counselor, bringing peace through the demonstration of patience. The messages spoken and songs sung from the platform are just added benefits.

Chuck Swindoll, author, radio pastor, and chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, has long been a supporter of Christian camping for the entire family. Some time ago, he spoke about the value of total family involvement.

“All the Swindolls have enjoyed and benefited from Christian camping for many, many years,” he said. “In fact, I can’t recall an unhappy or unrewarding experience that we’ve ever had.”

When families get together in a camping situation, they relate eye-to-eye, maybe for the first time in months, without the distraction of television, radio, or phone in the background, he observed. They have time to think through their values and their priorities. And they have the opportunity to establish or strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ.

The testimonies around Friday night’s flickering campfire stirred the hearts of the households gathered in its glow. Tears welled up in Laura’s eyes as her own husband of 16 years stood to his feet and uttered soft-spoken words of recommitment to Christ and family.

Following the service, the girls ran ahead to the cabin to pack for departure. Taking the long way back, Laura and her husband walked hand-in-hand, then arm-in-arm, speaking without talking. It was a wonderful week. Spiritual renewal did indeed take place. God’s voice was heard.

It wasn’t that He spoke any louder in the serene camp setting. For some reason, it was just easier to hear Him.

What about you? Has family camp played a part in your family’s heritage? If so, would you mind leaving a comment and sharing it? If not, I encourage you to consider attending a Christian family camp this summer. You won’t regret it!