by Tracey Eyster Posted Apr 22, 2020
If there is anything Pine Cove has taught me as a mom, it is that kids having fun is about a whole lot more than just kids having fun.
It is difficult today to process all that is going on in our lives and to juggle our responsibilities, activities, and relationships. The loads that we carry can leave each of us feeling overwhelmed and even anxious. This is true for adults and our children, of every age.
In today’s fast-paced, electronic screen-saturated environment, kids, more than ever, need opportunity to break away from the “this must get done” mentality and the “alone in front of a screen” habit to allow their bodies and minds the freedom to experience more and grow in knowledge. And just as importantly, to play, cavort, and revel in roars of laughter!
That’s right, have loads of good ol’ clean, well-overseen fun!
Some children will gravitate towards such suggestions, while some will attempt to avoid it at all costs, but how a parent encourages their child to interact with others is key. As parents we do not want hesitation to be a pathway to anxiety, which is a growing problem among children.
University of Maryland developmental psychologist Kenneth Rubin, PhD, in a November 1, 2019 American Psychological Association article reported, “We really try to help parents see that in the short term, swooping in to alleviate their child’s anxiety by declining birthday party invitations or withdrawing from extracurricular activities, for example, may help the child feel better in the moment, but over the long term, it’s not helping the child develop the social competencies and experiences that are critically important for growth,” … “The longer the social inhibition and anxiety go untreated, the larger the gap you see between the social behavior of the inhibited child and their peers who don’t have anxiety.”
I have one shy child and one more bold child; I have learned the importance of helping each find their way in the world through interaction with others. Remember parents, kids will naturally speak the language of fun, and as parents we must help them learn that fact, just as surely as we helped them learn to utter those first words, “Da-da.”
My encouragement to my kids if they were hesitant was always, “This isn’t just about you; you being there is because God wants you to be a blessing to someone else too. Think of that someone else and go have fun!” Reminding our children that we are all called to be a part of the body of Christ for the benefit of each other should be taught early and often!
There is no better group of people you could allow to care for your child and their uniqueness than the believers at Pine Cove who are called by God to celebrate your child and mirror Christ’s attitude to them. Pine Cove surrounds their campers with awesome, energetic, caring, Christ-centered, very cool young adults modeling how to confidently, and happily, be in this world and not of this world.
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:16-17
My greatest satisfaction after my kids attended a Pine Cove camp was their newfound choice of role models: Pine Cove counselors. Young adults who model “others-centric” thinking, who love Jesus and have wild crazy fun while doing both!
Camp IS big fun, but it is about so much more than fun. The hilarious skits, silly camp names, and seriously fun activities all work together to break down walls with campers, grow in fellowship together, and more readily open up hearts to receive the truth of the Gospel.
In the midst of the romping fun that surrounds Pine Cove, the Gospel is lived out person-to-person, and kids and youth cannot help but be drawn to such pure-hearted service, wrapped in the love of Christ, and brought to life through all-out serious fun.
I remember the high value of my kids witnessing a young adult—someone they truly admired—walking and talking what they had heard their whole lives from us as parents. Sweet fruit indeed.
Suddenly the people on little screens held in the hands of your child don’t hold as much weight. The little screen and what the voices on it speak into children is suddenly revealed as counterfeit. I have first-hand experience of phones being forgotten for chunks of hours and days after Pine Cove camp. Their eyes will come back – you know what I mean!
Kids who come to camp end up thriving in a technology-free environment and for the first time in a long time… remember what it’s like to play in God’s beautiful creation as they enjoy wildly fun activities. Even the more shy cultivate a sense of adventure, personal fears and challenges are overcome, and problem-solving and self-awareness skills are gained.
He’s got the whole world in His hands. This summer, my prayer is that your child will be in His grip as well.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.