Hello, my name is Michael Staires and I’m the summer camp director at Camp Loughridge in south Tulsa, on West 71st Street, just a few miles west of the Tulsa hill shopping center, and I’m here today to talk to you about Tulsa summer camps, and specifically, not just any Tulsa summer camp, but Camp Loughridge. There are a lot of great Tulsa summer camps, but I’m here to talk today about Camp Loughridge.
One of the things that makes Loughridge different and unique from a lot of Tulsa summer camps is the real emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are unashamedly, unapologetically a Christian camp and that’s what we’re all about. I want to talk to you today about some of the activities that are available at Camp Loughridge and why these activities are important to what we do. Wedding Venues Tulsa
At a lot of Tulsa summer camps, they may have a list of activities for kids to do, and the activities are fine activities, they’re probably great activities and the kids probably have a fun time, but sometimes the activities are really set up with the background question that comes to the programmer or to the planner, the program designer, “How are we going to fill the day? What are we going to do to fill the time between the time that the little one comes in the morning and the time that the parents pick them up in the afternoon?”
At Camp Loughridge, that’s not our first question. Our first question is not how we are going to fill the time, our first question is, “How can we introduce these kids to the reality of Jesus Christ in their life? How can we introduce these kids to the wonder and awesomeness of a loving God? How can we introduce these kids to the realities of the kingdom of God?” And then the activities aren’t just things that we do to fill time, the activities become vehicles or tools in our hands, that we use to share Jesus with these kids.
Let me tell you what I mean. We do swimming, we have arts and crafts, we have high ropes and low ropes activities; I’ll talk a little bit more about those in just a minute, we have nature study, we do a lot of games and each one of those activities has an ulterior motive. We do the game, the game is not an end in itself, the game is not just to have fun, we hope and pray that every single step along the way, every single activity, is full of fun. We want kids to get worn out having fun and playing.
And as you know, a lot of kids just don’t get out enough, so the fact that we’re out in the country, that we can run and play, we can do all these things outside, we can expand their mind, expand the brain, all of that’s good. But how do we share Jesus through games? There’s a lot of Tulsa summer camps, possibly, that believe that even Christian camps, that believe that activities are fun time than we do chapel in that spiritual time. And we happen to believe that it’s all spiritual time and it’s all fun time. That the activity should be able to demonstrate somehow the gospel and chapel or some meeting that we might have should be fun.
We see that all of these things crossover very easily. We believe in the power of discovery. We believe that if a child can learn a new skill or discover something about their relationship with God, that our job has been fulfilled that day. If they’re able to make something with their own hands in arts and crafts, talking about design, talking about the skill it takes, that maybe even the self-control it takes, or the mental controller, or the discipline it takes to sit down and to put something together. These are all things that kids can learn when they’re at Camp.
When they go on nature study, obviously, we learn a lot of facts about animals, we learn a lot of facts about water and about ecosystems and all about these kinds of things. So yes, we do learn a lot of facts but it’s not just about the facts. We hope that as kids dive into a study of their world, that it will open up such wonder and awe about the God who created them as well. We happen to wholeheartedly believe that the creation of the earth was not just a big bang, that it was not just some kind of collection of gasses and chemicals, and all of a sudden, there was a bang and here we are. Wedding Venues Tulsa
On the contrary, we believe in intelligent design, that there was a loving intelligent being that we worship and that he’s the one that created our world and put us in it to be stewards over it. We do talk a lot about ecology, we talk a lot about the importance of taking care of our planet. Those are important lessons that we get across, but it’s all with the context of the Lord and of his presence in our lives, and why it’s important. Wedding Venues Tulsa
I was talking to you a minute ago about ropes courses, high ropes, and low ropes. What are those? High ropes courses tend to put people in uncomfortable situations so that they can build their own self-confidence and they can understand maybe a little easier about how they think and how they approach, how they problem-solve and things like that. It tends to be more of an individual approach. What happens to a kid when he learns a new skill or when he defeats a dragon? If there’s a fear dragon in him; he’s scared of heights or scared to let go or scared to climb or scared to do something that he’s never done before.All of these kinds of things are conquered through that high ropes course experience.
We have trained ropes course technicians that not only keep children safe but also after the event, after everyone’s down and all the harnesses are taken off and all the ropes are coiled up, that we sit down, we talk about, “What did that experience mean to you? How did that experience affect you?” and we draw out those answers and again through that screen of spirituality and how we relate to God. That’s all done through that high ropes course experience.
Let me mention by the way that there are a lot of Tulsa summer camps that have maybe a high ropes course but there’s not a lot of Tulsa summer camps where even young kids can get on the high ropes course. We stretch that out and we get– every kid doesn’t get to do everything at camp, but we do have a graduated program so that as they get older, they get to go higher they get to do stuff that’s riskier and that creates a lot of fun, but it also creates incentive for them to want to come back to camp.
Low ropes course, is a little different. It’s not as individual. It tends to be more toward team building and problem-solving, not just as an individual, but as a team. We do best when we’re in community. But being in community is messy and so we need to learn, even at a young age, what it takes to think with others, work with others, playing with others, how we allow for the different personalities and the different strengths and weaknesses. Wedding Venues Tulsa
When we are invested in community with one another, all of a sudden, our own individual weaknesses tend to fade away because there’s someone else in that community that has a strength that offsets our weakness. We talk a lot about that. We talk a lot about, In these low ropes course activities, these problem-solving activities, when they’re finished and we’re all done and we can sit down and we can talk about it, our trained staff are there to ask probing questions to bring certain things to light and this is a great picture for how the classroom works, for how it works when we’re at church or all the different organizations and groups and teams and communities that they’re going to be a part of all through their life.
It’s our prayer that they would pick up tools, that they would learn things about themselves and how they relate to others through these laboratory experiments, basically is what they are. I’m excited about what we have together as a program but not just as activities to fill time but rather as activities that open up our heart and make us receptive to a gospel message; a message of the love of Jesus Christ. That’s what’s important about each of these activities. Throughout the day we’re not just doing stuff to fill time, we’re not just doing stuff because we have it there to do or because we thought it would be fun. Wedding Venues Tulsa
We really believe strongly in the word discovery. We believe strongly in the word community. We believe strong in the word adventure and we believe strongly in the word fun. These are things that we bring together. These are core values that we want to bring together in the context of a day at summer camp for the kids. So yes, swimming in the pool is a lot of fun, but it’s also an opportunity to build relationships with other people in our tribe. This has been Michael Staires speaking about Tulsa summer camp, specifically Camp Loughridge. Thank you. Wedding Venues Tulsa