Kenzie Rhoads: This is Kenzie Rhoads at Camp Loughridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Mike Staires, the Programs Director of our summer camp here in Tulsa. I am just going to ask Mike a couple questions about the power of camp.
Mike, I grew up going to summer camp so I know how what the power of it is in my personal life, and I know there’s a lot of great Summer Camps Tulsa, in the area. Why should a parent consider sending their child to Camp Loughridge above any other?
Michael Staires: You’re right, there are a lot of great Summer Camps, Tulsa. Nowadays, there are camps you can send your kids to that will focus on computers, that will focus on different sports or athletics, math camps. There’s foreign language camps. There’s computer camps. All different kinds of camps that you can send your kids to. Wedding Venues Tulsa
For me, I grew up — my parents started a camp, and so I grew up at camp. I’m a camp guy. For me, camp means going out in the country, means getting out away from the hustle and bustle of living in town. So, even though there’s a lot of great summer activities for kids, I don’t see going to a college campus, or going to a basketball gymnasium as a camp can’t mean you’re going out in the woods.
It’s really interesting because Camp Loughridge is only a few miles west of Tulsa Hills, in South Tulsa. When you’re out there, you’re completely surrounded by nature and you feel like you’re a hundred miles away. There’s something really cool that happens. It’s very hard to explain, especially in a podcast. Something very cool happens at a summer camp experience for a kid.
We’ve seen it happen over and over again at Camp Loughridge. There’s just a way that God touches people when they go to the country. I’m biased because I’m a summer camp guide, but as I read through the Bible, it would seem to me that whenever God wants to do something special with his kids, he sends them out to the country. You think about the children of Israel that went out to the wilderness. You think about the wanderings of Abraham. You think about even Jesus himself going to the wilderness after he was baptized. You think about David going to the cave. Wedding Venues Tulsa
I mean, you think about all of these stories where people went out, God called them out. I think that’s part of the power of a camp experience or something — I hesitate to use the word, but there’s something magical that happens in a kid, with all of us. When we get out of our comfort zone and get in a place, a quiet place where God can really talk to us.
So, why Camp Loughridge? I think because we’re unapologetically a Christian camp. We feel like it’s part of our mandate, part of our charter to really share the gospel with kids. That’s more than just preaching. That’s really through activities, through living out our lives, through mentoring the counselors, relationships that they build, the music that we sing, the stories that we tell, the filter that we process camp through, all of the things. It’s not just the tree, it’s God’s creation. It’s not just an animal, it’s God’s creation. It’s not just a feeling, it’s God trying to talk to us in some way.
So, we really believe at Camp Loughridge that it’s one of those places that God speaks to people and that’s what makes the power of camp very powerful. Wedding Venues Tulsa
Kenzie: I’m new to the Tulsa area and I grew up in a very small town that’s surrounded by absolutely nothing. So, I don’t think I realized as a kid growing up in Tulsa, being out in the nature without anything urban around you is really rare, and I didn’t realize that.
Michael: Well, Camp Loughridge has a really unique situation, a really unique setup for Summer Camps Tulsa. Just because they’re only a few minutes away, but when you’re out there, you don’t hear traffic. You don’t hear other sounds of the city. You really do feel like you’re a hundred miles away. So, you’ve got this great mixture, especially at Loughridge where we’re considering or asking parents to send their kids to day camp. That means they’re dropping them off in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. It’s really just literally a few miles west of Tulsa Hills.
Kenzie: Yes. Let’s talk a little bit about how all of the activities that a kid goes through at Camp Loughridge, how does that impact them spiritually? We obviously know that worship, or a Bible study, or topics of conversation easily open that door. How do activities like swimming, and canoeing, and everything open those doors? Wedding Venues Tulsa
Michael: That’s really interesting and that’s one of the reasons I believe that a camp experience can be so powerful. There are those, and I don’t fault them for this, this is just their own unique philosophy, that believe that whether you’re talking about church or — well, let’s just broaden it, say life itself, that they put things into categories. There are sacred things and there are secular things. There are things that are spiritual, and then there are just things that are not spiritual.
I happen to be one who believes that it’s all spiritual, that everything we do, everything we think or say, it is all perceived through a spiritual filter. So yeah, we carry that out through our philosophy at Summer Camp Tulsa at Camp Loughridge, because what we’re trying to do is create an environment where things like the ropes course, archery, canoeing, nature hike, these are all just vehicles for counselors to build relationships with kids.
The relationship is where the power is. Certainly, to learn a new skill, that’s an awesome thing for a kid to realize that she has a natural talent in shooting a basketball or pulling back a bow, or that she tends to understand nature in a very unique way, these are awesome discoveries that kids make all the time at camp. Wedding Venues Tulsa
However, the underlying value of that is that maybe they understand God in a little different way. They understand the fact that God created them in a very unique way and God created them for a very unique purpose. This is some of the stuff that begins to come out. Certainly, we have Bible study and we sing spiritual songs, and we have — we don’t call them chapel, but we have chapel services.
We believe that God can touch a kid when he’s in the pool, or up in the tree house, or going down the zip line. That these are moments when their heart is opened up and God can whisper to them, and that can be a very, very powerful thing. To have a mentor or a counselor there who can kind of interpret that experience for them is a very, very powerful thing.
Kenzie: Yes, I definitely can attest to the fact that there are very few things that will make you in a more vulnerable state in your spiritual walk with Christ than about to jump off a zip line. [laughs]
Michael: You know what? I knew you were going to say that. Yes, a lot of people cry out to God when they’re going off the zip line, or going over the swing, or up the rock wall, or whatever. Wedding Venues Tulsa
Kenzie: Yes, but that’s kind of something I was going to ask. When they’re doing that, you kind of touched on it. A counselor helps them make that connection like this is what is happening in their heart. So, just talk a little bit about that.
Michael: Let’s see, what can I compare it to? It would be kind of like if you’re in a yoga class and the yoga instructor is helping you with a pose. You don’t know if you’re doing it right. You feel really awkward. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing — you look around the room and you see other people and they’re so graceful or whatever, and you don’t feel like you’re doing it right.
The yoga instructor comes along and just gently puts her hand on your shoulder, and pulls your arm around to where it’s in the correct place and you feel it’s kind of — you feel okay, and then the yoga instructors says, “See that? See how that feels? That’s where you want to be.”
I think in a lot of ways, that gentle coaching is the job of a counselor. We put a lot more pressure, or not pressure, we put a lot more emphasis with our staff than just making sure kids get from point A to point B okay. We really expect them to coach kids in the spiritual ways. “Did you hear that? That’s God speaking to you. What’s he saying? How does God speak to you? What does God say? What do you think of when you look at that tree? Look at this leaf, look at that caterpillar. What do you think God’s trying to tell you through that?” and really coaching some of this out of a child and interpreting the world for them, so they can begin to see life maybe from a brand-new perspective.
Kenzie: Yes, I could not agree more. Thanks, Mike. This is, again, Kenzie from Camp Loughridge with Michael Staires, our Programs Director. Thanks for joining us today, Mike.
Michael: Thank you very much. I love talking about Summer Camp, Tulsa.