Can I go there?

A while ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a child about summer camp.  Christian camping ranks high in the National Survey on Youth and Religion (NSYR) for what has helped children and youth grow most in faith.  So I always ask, always try to ask, when I the opportunity arises.  This day I did.  “Have you ever been to a church camp?”, I asked.  “What is that?”  Well, there is one our area, up on the shores of a lake.  You go, there is wall climbing, football, soccer, you sleep in cabins and eat along big, wide tables, you swim in the lake, which is like the ocean – by this time I had their attention – and at the end of the day, you to the chapel, sing songs, pray, and have a worship service.

By the end of this paragraph, the child, usually chatty, was speechless.  They lived in an apartment building in our city.  Had never been to camp.  Had seen a lot of things – mostly in cities – but hadn’t spent a week by the lake with other kids, growing in community and faith.

When I had finished, like children do, and like adults learn not to do, they were direct, inhibited and honest.  They looked me straight in they eyes without a blink, and asked, “Can I go there?”  They emphasized the I.  And the there.  Like there was this gap between their life, and a week of Christian camping by the lake.  Like there was a gulf, unreachable.  Like it was beyond their grasp.  Not possible.

What a joy, believe me, what a joy, that I could answer that day: “Well, there are lots of generous people at our church, lots of them, and we have camperships available if you’d like to go.”

Without so much as a second of hesitation, they took up the generousity of the fine Christian people at my church.  They exclaimed, like a hockey player scoring a game wining goal; like a University basketball player scoring at the buzzer; like a young child, picturing something hopeful, exciting, faith-filled in the world in front of them.  They shouted, and I mean, shouted, “Yes!”

I don’t know what will become of this kid.  Where they will end up.  I believe they are going to go far.  Very far.  But it is nothing short of a gift to be able to offer, in the name of a Saviour who has a church in a city, goodness and hope in the first few years of their life.  I have a feeling this kid is going to make to it camp, and far beyond.