Hi, my name is Michael Staires and there are a lot of good camps in Tulsa, Tulsa camps. But I want to talk to you about one in particular. I’m the summer camp director at Camp Loughridge and we are up on the hill on West 71st street just a couple of miles west of Highway 75. I want to talk to you about why you should consider sending your kids to Camp Loughridge this summer.

Where do I start? I believe that there is no better tool for a parent in a local church to drive home the lessons and the values that those kids are learning at home and in church than to incorporate a christian camp experience and that’s what Camp Loughridge offers. There are a lot of great Tulsa camps but I believe that one of the things that’s going to set Camp Loughridge ahead is our intentionality about the experience that we want them to have.

We are unashamedly Christian. It’s in our charter that we want to enrich the lives of people and to influence the community of Tulsa by influencing and impacting the young people that come to camp with the message of Christ and the gospel and the beauty of God’s creation. What is it about a camp experience that means so much to us as people? I can’t explain it. I’ve been doing this for about 30 years and there’s just something that happens at camp, our hearts open up and I think it’s been said before that we get in a comfort zone where we insulate our lives so that we’re never pushed to the edges but sadly when we’re pushed to the edges oftentimes, that’s when we’re open and we’re vulnerable to change.

When we experience something the first time, think about a little guy or a little girl who’s never been away from home very long and they go and they spend a day at camp. What do you think is going to be on their discovery list that day? Things that they are going to see for the very first time? Things that they are going to hear for the very first time and learn? Camp is a lot different from school. You don’t have the four walls that hem you in.

Camp Loughridge sits on about 180 acres and we’re hiking and climbing all over that property. And so if you think about the new things that that young person is going to experience, their minds are going to be exploding everyday with the new things that they are learning and we believe that knowledge and an awareness of God follows them all throughout the day. As staff, we know our position is to be an interpreter to be right there with them as they’re experiencing those things for the first time and always bring things back to how they’re interpreting that. Spiritually what does this mean for me in my life? That’s a very valuable thing.

I believe that camp is a place where kids oftentimes discover for the very first time the stuff that they’re good at because they are out of their comfort zone and they’re doing a lot of things for the first time. They’re trying out things that are new. Camp is a great laboratory for kids to learn that, you know what, I’m pretty good at music or I’m a pretty good athlete or I can climb trees a lot better than anybody else. They discover natural gifts that they maybe never knew they had because they hadn’t had an opportunity to try that out.

They discover that they don’t mind being up in front of a group of people or that they’re very artistic or that math seems to make sense to them in a way that doesn’t make sense to other people. At Camp Loughridge which is maybe different from other Tulsa camps, we drive this home. This is sent to us like a bloodhound. We look for this every single day in every single way. This is exactly where we want to be with the child.

We want to be there at that teachable moment when they open up and they say, “What does this mean? What is this all about? I’m feeling this, what does that mean?” We are all about building the relationships that will put us in a position to help influence that young person and instill, not just instill, but backup and enforce the valuable lessons that those kids are learning at home and at church. Camp like I said is a laboratory so if at church and at home they’re learning valuable lessons, camp is a place where they can actually try that out.

Whether it’s actually intentional leadership development, camp develops leaders because there’s so much about camp that is at times uncomfortable because you’re doing things for the first time. That’s how we grow and leaders embrace that kind of growth and that’s one of the things that’s important about what happens at Camp Loughridge.

The spiritual formation as you know is not something that just happens by osmosis. Oftentimes, I believe that as moms and dads we end up being like boxers that were trapped in the corner and we’re just taking the punches and we’re living life defensively. Sometimes we parent defensively. We’re just trying to keep up. We’re doing what we believe is best for our kids by putting them in the right school and by making sure that they’ve got good teachers and then by rounding out their experience with extracurricular activities in the afternoon, maybe playing sports or some other kinds of lessons to deepen their experience and to make them a well-rounded human being and citizen. Camp fits right in with that.

Camp is something you can do intentionally especially sending your child to Camp Loughridge with that expectation that God is going to touch them while they are at camp, whether it’s through something that a counselor says, or through an experience that they have like on the zip-line or on the giant swing, or maybe it’s through a quiet moment in the middle of a worship song where God whispers their name for the very first time.

These are incredible experiences. I think right now if you were to interview a hundred people that are pastors and teachers and missionaries and christian school teachers and people that would consider themselves in full-time ministry, I think if you were to interview them right now and ask them where did they make the decision to go into full-time ministry or where was it that they really for the first time understood that they had a call on their life, they would tell you it happened at camp. Probably 80 out of the 100 would tell you that that moment happened at camp. That’s why you should consider sending your child to Camp Loughridge.

Again, there are other great Tulsa camps but Camp Loughridge is a place that’s going to be intentional about that moment. That moment when a child discovers God and His love for them and His purpose and calling on their life sometimes for the very first time. If you think about your own life, the things that happen in your life when you were seven and eight and nine and 10 and 11 and 12, these are years of discovery.

These are years where you are pulling away in a healthy way from the covering that your parents had on you’re becoming more than just the child of your parents. You’re becoming your own person and oftentimes kids who grow up in christian homes, church and following the Lord are something they do because their mom and dad do it until they get to be about nine or 10 or 11 or 12. These are years when they say, you know what, this is something that I want to embrace for myself. This is a walk that I want to have on my own apart from my parents.

These are critical years, that’s why camp is such a great spot to send your kids for a week or two during the summer and day-camp is one of those great opportunities. Camp Loughridge is a place that you can send your kids everyday and they come home and sleep in their own beds at night. It’s like a warm up to maybe an overnight camp when they get a little bit older.

They can have a training experience at Camp Loughridge because they will get to come home every night, give you an opportunity to talk with them and to share with them and to really be able to learn from them at the end of each day what that day was all about, what that day was like. Camp Loughridge is going to be very intentional about those kinds of moments and doing our best to seize those moments when they come and not let them just pass away. This is why you want to check out this place when looking for Tulsa camps.

Again, there are a lot of great Tulsa camps but Camp Loughridge is going to be one place that’s going to be intentional about focusing on those moments and that’s why you should consider– and the mental image I’m getting right now is more than just bringing your kids to camp and dropping them off. It’s actually symbolically– It’s like launching them into something brand new. Investing in to them. Not just the money that it cost to send a child to camp, but investing in them in a unique way to discover what God has for their life.

There’s so many lessons that kids learn at camp that all of a sudden they get it. The the stuff that they’ve been learning at home, the stuff that they’ve been learning at church, all of a sudden all of that stuff makes sense. The balls drop and it clicks. It makes sense sometimes for the very first time and these are some of the values of why you should send your kids to Camp Loughridge.