Camp is the perfect place for environmental principles to be brought to life. An Arctic glacier slowly melting may be too far removed for children to fully grasp the significance of, but a caterpillar in hand, a hike in a forest or a camp-out under the stars are real and immediate demonstrations of the importance of caring for God’s creation.
Besides simply being exposed to nature, camps are places that can teach about the concept of stewardship on a level that goes beyond secular pleas for sustainability. Faith-based camps can teach campers about caring for the environment not only out of obligation for future generations, but because God has entrusted us with this land to “work its ground and to take care of it” (Genesis 2:15b). Leading by example, incorporating hard facts about the environment with faith concepts, and simply reviving—or creating for the first time—a connection between children and nature, are all ways camps promote stewardship.
Although we would like to think that we can be motivated to do something simply because of a biblical mandate, or a desire to save the earth, this is easier said than done. It is all too easy to simply go along with the status quo environmentally, especially for children and youths who are growing up in a consumeristic society.
Creation care becomes a little less difficult when a genuine interest, love and connection to the environment are cultivated. The more nature is woven into our lives, the less willing we are to stand by and watch it disappear. Summer camp, church outings, family trips or Sunday strolls through a forest are great ways to nurture this connection.
Simply telling children and youths to “go play outside” may not do the trick. As adults, it will begin with leading by example and creating meaningful but relaxed encounters with the outdoors. With God’s help these experiences, along with the mandate God has given us to be good stewards, will help children and youths to question their choices and work towards a greener future.