Thinking Out Loud

June 29, 2013

Christian Camps Without Counselors

Filed under: children, ministry — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:57 am

Christian Camp

My wife and I met at a Christian camp where she was serving on full time staff and I was invited as a guest speaker for staff training week. Ironically, my assigned topic that week was “Relationships.”

Previously, I had worked at another large Christian camp which, in the years after I left, chose to drop the “camp” moniker in favor of “sports resort.” The “campers” were thereafter referred to as “guests.” In some respects, I was quite happy to have missed that transition. More recently, the camp’s name has become the brand and “sports resort” has been dropped, at least in the official nomenclature.

But in any ministry endeavor — as in the wider spectrum of life — terminology is constantly in flux.

Here’s an interesting change that’s taken place in the last decade: Can you think of a word in which the singular form is always male, but the plural form can be male, female or mixed? Answer in the comments.

In many churches that were around in the mid-20th-century, the person who directed the music portion of the church service was the “song leader,” not the “worship leader.” Actually, many churches don’t use the word “services” anymore, they create “environments.” And if you do call them services, you don’t say “Sunday services,” because that doesn’t take in the ever-growing popularity of Saturday options, hence “weekend services.”

Meanwhile, back at camp, I was surprised this week when my youngest son corrected me as to his job description when I called him a counselor: “It’s ‘cabin leader,’ not counselor.” 

When I pressed him on this, he explained that with so many kids coming as campers who are caught up in the net of social services, the word ‘counselor’ is loaded with baggage. While I’m sure that some of these kids look forward to the weekly gabfest with the counselor in question, apparently the term is pejorative for enough of them that a new vocabulary is needed.

And that’s just sad.

I guess it’s unfortunate that many of them need a counselor, disturbing that probably many of them are shunted around to different counselors, and sad that the whole scenario brings with it negative connotations.

Hopefully in the change of words the essence remains intact: Kids get away from family, friends, computer and life in the city and get to refocus in an entirely fresh setting. Between that, and the focus on Jesus in the songs, skits and ministry time, great things can happen in a kid’s life.

With all that taking place, it’s great for a kid to have someone to talk with, no matter what you call him or her.

Photo: Heartland Christian Camp in the mountains of California. Take a deep breath… you can smell the forest.  Click the image for more about the camp, or this link for more photos.



  1. Oh, now that’s an easy one, guy! … Er, I mean you guys (you and yer wife) of course.

    Comment by Flagrant Regard — June 29, 2013 @ 8:21 am

  2. Let’s see. God is
    the Mighty Counselor. I wonder if anyone feels the need to soften that? Following the same logic we all know that “Father”is laden with negative images for a lot of people. Maybe we need to stop calling Him Father. Oh wait. That’s already happening.

    Comment by Cynthia Almudevar — June 29, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    • The mighty counselor, yes but He’s the MIGHTY counselor. …Okay, that was a stretch… Honestly I didn’t think of that angle to this. But that might partially be due to the fact the phrase doesn’t actually appear in either the NIV or KJV. The phrase is “Wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

      Still the word counselor is there in almost every single translation (including The Message) with the exception of the CEV and NIrV (adviser). But if it’s “the sick that need a doctor,” perhaps the shoe fits for retaining this even as the word becomes used in a more pejorative sense.

      …The image of the Father heart of God has always been problematic for people who had poor relationships with their earthly fathers growing up, which isn’t an entirely new phenomenon.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 29, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

      • I once led a Bible study for active and recovering prostitutes. Father was a problem for them as the abuse they suffered at the hand of their own fathers or step-fathers was directly related to the work they found themselves in. However, God was able, through the Holy Spirit, to show them the beauty of Him as Father and it eventually became their favorite title for Him.

        Comment by Cynthia Almudevar — June 29, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

      • As one who was abused by three ‘fathers’ and was a manhater, the idea of a Father God was not overly welcome. However, by then I had come to know that not ALL fathers were evil (though I suspected most were, and knew the vast majority of men were). I also knew that if there was such a being as God, He would HAVE to be PERFECT. He could be nothing but perfect and still be God.
        Within a very short time, He had proven to be a living God with infinite power, and when, a few days after I became a Christian, I found out that HE had adopted ME as His very own child, I was dumbfounded. How could I NOT love a PERFECT Father who desired the very, very best for me and had GIVEN His very Best for me in order to redeem me unto Himself?

        I believe (and have seen in children I have counselled) the one thought that appeals to abused children is that of a PERFECT Father who wants the best for His children.

        Comment by meetingintheclouds — July 3, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

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