Every summer we hold a series of camps in many locations around the country.
We'd like you to come to one of them, because we think they are great. But then, we would, wouldn't we?
So don't take our word for it. Listen to some of the young people who went last year:
David: Have you ever wished you could take a break from life? Maybe you can't stand having your little brother or sister annoy you any longer or you're fed up with listening to your parents' endless reprimands. Maybe your family is in shambles, grades aren't so good, or you just don't feel loved at all. Maybe you've strayed so far from God you fear he'll never listen to you again. Or maybe you're just looking to have a little fun this summer.
Melinda: As the bell rings on the last day of school, everyone runs off campus, excited to go home and have no homework to do. They get to sleep in every day for three months and do everything and anything they can think of that's non-educational. But I look
forward to something else—sleeping in dorms, waking up early, learning something new every day, and having no Internet access. No, it's not boot camp—it's one of my favorite places in the world. It's SEP! (Last year, Generation Ministries' camps were called Spiritual Enrichment Programs—SEP.)
Jasmine: In our church area, my dad is the pastor. Every week he gives sermons but typically they are geared towards the adults. One other problem that I have personally is that our particular church doesn't have many teens. Because of that, we don't have a big teen/youth program. Also, at least in my school or my area, there aren't many places that I can go to talk to other Christian teens about Jesus and learn more about him.
Abel: The greatest joy I have is having friends who love our Lord Jesus Christ. In school, it is not easy to find classmates who love Jesus. As a Christian, I often get looked down on and laughed at because of my Christian views. SEP has expanded the boundaries of my relationships, and I know better how to relate with non-Christian friends in school.
Rodmer: SEP is the coolest place that you can possibly be. It's so awesome, and it's life-changing to many people. Seriously!
Tyler: SEP is a place where the atmosphere alters. It's a place where instead of being discriminated against, you're loved no matter what ethnicity, size, or shape you are. It's a place where instead of receiving the cold shoulder or occasional dirty looks, you get someone to look you straight in the eye and talk or play a sport with you on a welcoming level. You begin to learn the importance of life itself, while having the most fun probably in your entire life.
David: I know, since it is a church-hosted camp, the first thing you think of is a bunch of old people singing hymns in a giant sanctuary, but at SEP, you could be fooled into thinking you're at a rock concert.
Rodmer: People come to camp for the first time with a negative mindset saying "This is just going to be another ordinary summer camp where all you do is swim and eat and do boring religious stuff," but many teens actually develop into a totally new person in Christ while having fun at the same time. The coolest thing about SEP is that the staff, counselors, and other campers accept you for who you are, just like Jesus does, which means that you don't have to be the perfect 100% "religious" person that you think you have to be. There are no perfect people at this camp. Sounds pretty sweet to me.
Alexis: I remember almost crying because I got three meals a day. It was not that I was starved and neglected at home, but in these days, few of us sit down to three meals with our friends and family anymore. I felt very safe being in a place where the stresses of school and family life were non-existent. The only things I had to worry about at SEP were dancing with a boy who was 6 inches shorter than me, and dodging mosquitoes. I learned that I seem to have a knack for shooting and archery, after coming in second in the girls' camp. (I found it ironic that after growing up in Los Angeles, California, the first time I ever fired a gun was at church camp. I think especially that the dancing is the best part of SEP (there are two dances during the week and two dance classes) because you get to overcome the shyness and fear that keeps some of us from dancing in other places. At SEP, no one cares if you are a good or bad dancer as long as you try and have a good time.
David: No matter what your situation is, I'm sure that SEP will, at the very least, give some insight into these problems if not change your life completely. Being a camper of 4 or 5 years (I've lost count), believe me when I say that miracles still happen.
Abel: Before coming to SEP, I thought that the whole experience is nothing but to stir up the emotions of children with music, lectures and sports. However, after having gone through SEP myself, I realized that I was wrong. SEP really does change lives. I have witnessed it. I have experienced it.
A close friend of mine from a broken family finally found joy and purpose in his life from SEP. I know someone who was often a "troublemaker" in church. He came home from SEP a totally different person. He came home gentle and kindhearted. I cannot also minimize the value of friendships I have made. Having friends all over the USA is cool. We continue our relationships by emails and chats. Because we are teens, we understand each other very well and are able to encourage each other.
Jasmine: That's the good thing about SEP. It's one of the few times during the year where teens can get together and learn about Jesus and incorporate him into their lives. I have to admit that leaving my comfortable bed and bugless house is a bit difficult, but it's all worth it. For that one week, I am able to camp out in the woods just so I can have fun with my friends, and learn more about Jesus Christ.
Alexis: SEP is a safe place, a place where you can be yourself without worrying about what Mom/Dad/school/your friends expect, and where you can still feel like you matter as an individual.
Melinda: SEP, or Spiritual Enrichment Program, is the best thing a pre-teen or teen can do with their summer. They get the opportunity to participate in many team sports, like basketball, volleyball, and water polo, plus activities like high-ropes courses, rock climbing, paintball, canoeing, dance, archery, and other exciting things that you just don't get the chance to do in P.E. at school! All these activities are done with your dorm members, who, in the short week you are together, will become as close as family to you.
But definitely the best thing you get out of SEP is the "spiritual enrichment." Every morning the whole camp gathers for what I've heard some campers call "intense" praise and worship and a great chapel message. Then at the end of the day, we gather again to worship God, who every camper comes to fall in love with during the week.
David: Hey, if you're looking for a good time, there's plenty of activities made for that: canoeing, basketball, archery, swimming, volleyball, rifle shooting, and even dancing. Most importantly, it is a place to be accepted. Even if you're skeptical about this whole God and Jesus thing, I can assure that you'll find friends in the campers and staff there.
Tyler: SEP places kids of all ages in a fun, spiritual bubble that is truly everlasting in your memory.
Rodmer: Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that the daily SEP worship services totally rock!
Does this sound like fun? Then check our web site http://genmin.gci.org/campministries.htm for details of the camp closest to you. If you'd like to come, we'd love to have you for a few fun-filled days that really can change your life!
Don't you wish they had something like these camps when you were young? What a difference it might have made.
What a difference it is going to make to hundreds of young people this summer.
But some, sadly, may be left behind.
Grace Communion International as a denomination subsidizes some of the costs of its Generations Ministry camps. The rest is covered by tuition payments made by the campers themselves and from donations given to one of our camp ministries.
Many kids, including those who need the camp experience most and who benefit most from it, come from homes that are unable to pay all or part of the tuition. So through Generations Ministry's sponsorship program, individuals and congregations have an opportunity to sponsor a young person who otherwise could not afford to go.
You can sponsor a camper from your congregation, family, or neighborhood directly by offering them financial assistance personally or by doing so through your pastor or youth ministry leader. Another way to help sponsor needy campers is to make a general donation to one of our Generations Camp Ministries. Such donations will be used by that ministry to cover costs, including the scholarshipping of campers with financial need. You can make such donations to a Generations camp ministry by making out a check to the name of the camp and sending it to the camp ministry's mailing address (see this information about each camp ministry on our website at http://genmin.gci.org/campministries.htm). Such donations will be receipted by that ministry and are tax deductible in accordance with IRS policy.