Hello, my name is Michael Staires and I’m the summer camps director at one of Tulsa camps best camps Camp Loughridge. I’m just here to encourage you today that although there are a lot of great Tulsa camps, that Camp Loughridge stands apart. I want to talk to you a little bit about what makes Camp Loughridge different especially when you are looking for wedding venues Tulsa has to offer.
Camp Loughridge is a summer day camp for kids. Kids come out every morning about 8:30 or 9:00 and they stay there through the day and parents pick them up about 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. I want to talk a little bit about what makes a day camp different than an overnight camp. Day camps really provide a unique experience and it can help fit within the context of what a family really needs or where a family is in their evolution as their kids grow up.
There’s a lot of — I used to say that there are a lot of kids who aren’t quite ready for an overnight camp experience. But more recently, it’s been my experience that it’s moms that aren’t quite ready for their kids to go on an overnight camp experience. That’s why I want to talk to you about a day camp experience.
There’s a lot of great Tulsa camps but Camp Loughridge is uniquely situated right on West 71st Street, just a couple of miles West of Highway 75 up on the hill in a beautiful setting in the woods. Day camp offers one of those opportunities for kids to just, like overnight camp to be able to explore, and discover and learn, build relationships. Do all those things but they get to go home and sleep in their own bed overnight.
I spent the whole first part the majority of my career directing overnight camps, so I’m very familiar with what an overnight camp can do. But just the last year or so, I’ve been working at Camp Loughridge with people out there and learning more and more about what makes the day camp different. I think the day camp experience is a different experience because again kids go sleep in their own beds every night and they come back the next day ready for a brand new day.
Everyday, mom particularly gets to have that touch to say, “How was your day? How did things go today?” And kids get to download if you will. I’m sure there are many, many times when I wish I could be a fly on the wall on the inside of that car and listen to the conversations between mom and the kids or between dad and the kids because I know the first question is, “How did your day go? What did you do?”
I also know because I’ve been around camping long enough to know that kids say a lot more than just it went fine and we did some stuff. But they really begin to feedback to the parents the things that they heard the things that they learn the experiences they had. Now think about it, you’re a seven or an eight-year-old kid. Maybe you’ve been to other Tulsa camps but this was different because even as a seven or eight year old, you have the opportunity to go down a zip line, to get in this very cool harness and wear this helmet and actually crawl up this pole until you were about 25 or 30 feet up in the air and clip onto this cable and then actually jump off of a platform.
Think about how that experience explodes in their mind. Then the debrief, when we actually — after we do that, we talk about what that means or what they were feeling. Of course, because it’s Camp Loughridge, we believe that there is a spiritual thread that goes through every single thing we do. We know that kids are going to learn as much about the nature and love of God when they go off the zip line or when they’re swimming in the pool or when they’re doing an arts and crafts project than when they’re actually sitting and listening to a Bible lesson or a Bible story.
That God teaches us through all of our experience. There is no segmentation where we only learn about God and His nature when we sit down in a chapel-like service. At Camp Loughridge, we happen to believe that there is a thread that ties everything together. That God in His mercy reveals Himself. God wants to reveal Himself to His kids and it’s so cool when He uses Creation to do that.
Kids get to do a nature hike and so they’re doing a lot more than just hiking on a trail that goes around the lake. But they’ve got a guide, a nature, a naturalist that’s with them every step of the way. That’s actually able to identify different kinds of plants and different kinds of bugs and different kinds of animals. Talk about ecosystems, and talk about watersheds, and talk about our responsibility that God set us up as stewards over that creation.
These are revealing moments. Again, think about that these are teachable moments. We hope it’s our prayer at Camp Loughridge that when we talk, that questions bubble up inside the minds of these kids. We are mining for those jewels as they bubble up inside the minds of these kids and we’re wanting to be there to answer questions.
Our staff are trained to do much more than just monitor the kids’ behavior. We don’t just let the kids play and we sit down on a log over in the corner and just keep an eye on them, and make sure that they don’t get hurt or that they don’t get in an argument or something like that. We are with them every step of the way.
If they’re playing, we’re playing with them. If they’re sitting down to eat, we are at the table with them. If they’re hiking, then we’re on the hike with them. Because we believe that at a very real level a spiritual level, that we’re interpreters. They were interpreting the world that they’re experiencing, a different world perhaps especially if they haven’t spent much time out in the country or in the woods.
There are other Tulsa camps where you can send your kids. But at Camp Loughridge, we’re mindful of the responsibility we have as interpreters of their experience at camp. If a young person has spent a lifetime not really getting out very much, this is a whole new world and they will have a lot of questions and a lot of questions sometimes they are reluctant to ask. They don’t want to appear to be silly or appear to not know what they’re talking about. But we know the questions asked to pull those questions out of them that will put us into a conversation with the kids. That’s where learning happens. That’s where relationships are built and that is important.
As you know walking with the Lord is much more than just learning. We can learn all we want about Jesus. But at Camp Loughridge, we really want to build help kids build a relationship with Jesus. Our walk is one of relationship. It’s not one of facts and figures and head knowledge, but it’s one that we follow God with all of our hearts and we don’t follow God — It doesn’t say that we follow God with all of our head.
We really go the extra mile to try to make that heart connection with kids and really show them and interpret what’s going on in their experience with what is happening with what God is trying to tell them. It’s our desire that kids will get back in the car at the end of the day and talk nonstop about things that they’ve learned at Camp Loughridge and about discoveries they’ve made, that they never knew that butterflies came from caterpillars.
That they never knew that that particular leaf was an oak leaf or that there was so much going on within just one cup of water taken out of the lake. Or they never knew what they could do with popsicle sticks in arts and crafts. These are things that we take very seriously. It may look to the person looking from the outside that we’re just doing activities that help fill the day. We see it as much, much more than that.
Again, there’s a lot of places, a lot of Tulsa camps that may do similar things. But we believe that the outlook that Camp Loughbridge brings, the perspective and the training and the expertise that Camp Loughridge brings, makes it a much different kind of experience because we’re going to focus on the spirituality of what’s going on in the way we interpret God through almost every single thing we do all day long.
Whether a kid is in the pool or on the zip line or doing the giant swing, these are all activities that all the kids do. But we also spend time where we’re actually focused, where we are singing songs and singing songs of worship and learning to hear what the voice of God really sounds like. We believe that when we can come away to a quiet place like camp [laughs] which it may not be quiet all the time. There’s a lot of screaming and shouting and a lot of running and playing. But we can find that peace out there on the hill at Camp Loughridge where you can just barely hear the traffic that’s rushing by on 75. You can find a peace. There is a piece out there as you sit on the rock or sit on a log by the side of the lake. You can learn what the voice of God sounds like. That’s what we believe the real value of a camp experience at Camp Loughridge is all about. We believe that that makes it a lot different from other Tulsa camps.
Within the course of the day, a child that comes to camp Loughridge is going to have an opportunity to build a relationship with an older — a young person, college age or high school age young person. They’re going to have a chance to experience a lot of things for the very first time to shoot a bow and arrow or to go down the zip line or to go off a giant swing where they’re clipped in.
They’re going to have an opportunity to build relationships with other kids their age. These are relationships that often time will last the rest of their life. Those are just some of the things that make an experience at Camp Loughridge different and unique from any other Tulsa camp.