It’s summertime. School is over, and your kids are home until they return in August or September. While the children celebrate the end of their school year and the freedom of summer, working parents have to cobble together activities for their kids while school is out.
For many parents, that means shipping their kids off to Christian camp. They drive the kids to a lake near some small rural town where they get to run under the sun, paddle canoes, and splash in the water. There’s a fire with songs and roasting marshmallows. It’s rite of passage that nearly every kid gets to enjoy.
When you send your kid off to camp, you know they’re going to have fun. But you also want to make sure they have what they need to be faithful, too. What can you do to help your child remember that to act like a child of God? Here are five things to pack for your kid when you send them off to camp.
Every Christian needs to have access to a bible wherever they go. The Bible is the word of God, given to us to reveal his love for us in Christ. St. Paul writes to his young student, St. Timothy, when he says, “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Just like Timothy, every young person needs to spend time with their Bible.
So, what kind of Bible should you get? I’m sure most Christian parents already have a standard edition of the Bible that they keep at home for their kids and their families. When you send your kid off to camp, it might be a good idea to get a paperback Bible. Camps can be dirty, chaotic, strange places. You want to send your kid off with a Bible that you might be ok with getting lost, stained, or accidentally destroyed.
If your child is between 8 and 12 years old, consider a story bible. These summaries of Bible stories are written for specific age-groups, and they focus on the plot of the basic stories without some of the parts that even adults find difficult to read. One of the best is The Action Bible. This story bible is presented like a comic book and illustrated by a veteran from the comic industry. Beautiful and exciting, it’s perfect for a kid who’s looking for action.
A Great Christian T-Shirt
Clothing can be a great way to say something about who you are. Business people wear clothing that reflects their profession, usually a suit. Police officers, firefighters, and mail carriers all wear a uniform to show us what they do. Kids at camp are no different. Clothing is communication.
That’s why a Christian T-shirt is such a great idea. It’s one piece of clothing that can remind your child who he belongs to, God. There are numerous T-shirts that try to be clever or edgy, and they can be hit or miss. It’s hard to know whether your child will like it. Try to find something classic that points to Jesus himself and will be a clear teaching of the way to salvation.
Classic Christian Literature
A day at a camp is filled with activities, but they also schedule rest breaks. These are great times for kids to sleep, read, or get some alone time. They are also opportunities to explore some of the best of classic Christian literature.
The Chronicles of Narnia are the perfect choice for great Christian literature. These classic tales of magic, lions, talking animals and more are a delightful allegory for Christian teachings. Written by the great British apologist, C. S. Lewis, these tales are gripping, entertaining, and they contain timeless truth about Christ and his work. The first book is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe , which focuses on a family of children who stumble on a magical land with an evil witch. No matter what age, this is a classic Christian book.
The Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L’Engle is also a wonderful set of Christian novels. The first book is good enough that it makes the reading list for many secular classrooms, but it focuses on Christian virtue. While less of an allegory than the Chronicles of Narnia, these books are great Christian reading. The first book, A Wrinkle in Time , stars Meg Murry, her friend Calvin, and her brother, Charles Wallace, as they try to rescue Meg’s father who’s trapped by his experiments in time travel.
Timeless Christian Music
There is always a cornucopia of new Christian music available from your favorite music site or music store. I’m sure you and your child already have a particular taste and collection in your music. So, you will have to do some digging on your own. Since everyone has diverse tastes in music, any album recommendations might not work for you or your child.
Try to find something that is based on ancient Christian music from the early centuries to the 19th century. Why those dates? We are very familiar with Christian music that’s been written in the last century, especially music in the last few decades. It’s difficult to sift through the terrible, trite music to find something great. Christian songs that have survived the centuries will be both beautiful and edifying.
Kids/Teen Devotional Book
A devotional book can help your child start the day with the right frame of mind, focused on Jesus and his salvation. Most Christian churches recommend some sort of personal devotion every day.
For liturgical Christians, one of the best devotional resources is your own hymnal. Many hymnals or missals include a pattern for daily prayer with songs, readings, and prayers. For example, one Lutheran hymnal includes a pattern for prayer each morning, mid-day, and evening. They offer a series of prayers, songs, and scripture readings for each day. The best way to teach your child to do these while away is to make it a regular practice in your own home. Hymnals can provide a simple, but effective way for your family to start each day with prayer.
A hymnal stands out as a devotional tool, because you do not need to depend on the creativity of a writer to hold your child’s attention. Most of the songs and hymns in a hymnal have been tested by time and offer great theology as well as a devotional message.
If that’s not your church tradition, there are many devotional books to buy for your child. Whatever your child’s age, whether a child , tween , or teen , you should be able to find something great. As with most new books, read it yourself to be sure that it teaches what you want your child to learn. The last thing you want is a devotional book that undermines what your own church teaches.
As children get older, they become more independent. Sending them off to camp for the first time, or for the tenth time, can be tough on parents. When you help them pack up their clothes and camping gear, offering them some of these great Christian items can help ease your mind by giving them tools to remain faithful when they are on their own.