One of our best ways to build community is through our camping programs,
which have been changing lives for more than 150 years.
Both the Canada West and Canada East mission centers have multiple campgrounds in beautiful natural settings across the country.
More than 40 camping programs for all ages are held each year at these various facilities.
Our camping programs are never about indoctrination or proselytizing –
they are about discovering and experiencing the joy in meeting old and new friends,
genuinely sharing in learning, laughter and fellowship,
and the quiet peacefulness of feeling truly alive in a beautiful place.
Reunions (Family Camps)
In the days before modern technology made long-distance communication easy,
weeklong "reunions" were a primary means for people from many different (mostly rural) congregations to get to know each other,
and for the institutional church to conduct business meetings.
Today, these same week-long reunions (now often called "family camps") allow us to withdraw from our hectic schedules,
and come together in a natural setting to share in classes, worship, campfires, singing, laughter and fellowship.
For many in our faith community, these weeks are an oasis of peace and inspiration in their busy lives,
and they look forward to this experience each summer to
"recharge their batteries" for the year ahead.
Family camps are open to anyone to attend,
and are a wonderful way to experience firsthand the joy, love, hope and peace
that can be found as we learn to live in community.
One of the most important things that we do as a church is to provide children and youth with positive camping experiences.
Youth camps create settings where teenagers can feel safe enough to ask questions,
learn from each other, and explore their place in the world.
A week-long youth camp provides teenagers an opportunity to see how we can relate with each other
based on very different values than they might see and hear in their schools and workplaces every day.
For many of us in this church community,
going to youth camps remains one of the single most formative experiences of our lives.
We can (and hopefully will) share our stories of times when the memories of those camp experiences
reconnected us to values that helped us make responsible and positive choices in our lives.
Youth camps include:
- Kids Camp for children ages 8-10
- Jr High Camp for youth ages 11-14
- Sr High Camp for youth ages 15-18
Spectacular and International Youth Forum
Each summer, older high-school students have the opportunity to travel to the Graceland University campus
(Lamoni, Iowa), for a unique week-long experience of arts, leadership, sports and worship
with 1,100 youth from all over the church –
In some years, a special 2-day International Youth Forum is held at International Headquarters
(Independence, MO), just before Spectacular.