Tulsa Summer Camps : Great Way to Camp

Michael Staires: Hello, my name is Michael Staires. I’m the summer camp director at Camp Loughridge in Tulsa just five minutes west of Tulsa Hills. I’m here today to talk about Tulsa summer camps. One of the best Tulsa summer camps is Camp Loughridge. Of course, I’m prejudiced but I’m excited today. I woke up this morning thinking about a word. The word is epiphany. I had an epiphany this morning on the word epiphany.

When I apply that to Tulsa summer camps, specifically Camp Loughridge, I want to talk a little bit about epiphanies today. Traditionally, the epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas. It’s traditionally the day that the Magi saw the star that led them to Bethlehem. We have made epiphany synonymous with discovery or that aha moment.

I wanted to talk to you a minute this morning about the great way that camp puts kids in a position for epiphanies. A camp is made up of aha moments of discoveries left and right. It’s exciting to be there at that moment when a kid– when the light bulb goes on. When they say, “Oh, I understand now. I get it now.”

Or sometimes they’re not even able to articulate what’s going on inside them, but you can tell that the little light bulb over head is gone on. Discovery is one of our core values at Camp Loughridge. We believe that camp is all about discovery. It’s our hope and prayer that kids will discover — first of all, they’ll discover things about themselves that maybe they didn’t know.

They’ll discover maybe a new talent that they’ve never realized before. They’ll discover something about themselves that they never really knew before within the confines of their school or their home or their regular environment. Camp is a great laboratory for kids to try new things. Tulsa Summer Camps is full of new discoveries, whether it’s first time going down the giant swing or the first time to go off the high dive.

Or the first time to meet a new friend or the first time to sing a song, or the first time to raise your hands and worship or the first time to meet a new friend. These are all things that kids do for the first time. That’s why camp is loaded with these kinds of epiphanies. We do our best as camp programmers to actually set that up so it takes place intentionally. We give kids the opportunity to try new things.

We have mentors or counselors that are college age and some are high school. We have them there as guides to in a way hold their hand through that process and help them to discover these new things about themselves. It’s also a great place. Camp is a great place because it’s a beautiful outdoor setting there on the hill west of Tulsa Hills. It’s a great setting.

A great country, rural setting out of the way from the city where the kids can get in the woods. They can get in the lake. They can get in the creek and explore and discover new things about their world and about God’s creation. God has this way, this supernatural way of opening up hearts when kids get out in the country. When I say kids I mean kids of all ages.

God has this special way of using his creation to inspire awe and wonder in each of us in our own way. Whether it’s looking at a spider web that’s sagging with the dew in the morning or it’s looking at the way the sun is setting. Or it’s looking at the way the intricate vein pattern that you would find in an oak leaf.

All of these things and more put us in a position of awe and wonder and that the Psalmist I think often felt that. If you read through the Psalms, you can see how often he was able to write about how the creation just was amazing to him and he was having a hard time even processing it. This is another discovery that kids make when they get outside.

When they get outside not only their own environment, but when they get out into a brand new environment. An environment that maybe that they haven’t ever really been familiar before, you think about it’s the only time they really get outside is when they’re on the school yard or when they go to a park. This is much more rustic than that.

This actually allows them to get away and to really feel they’re not in the city anymore. It’s a tremendous opportunity for kids to discover new facets about God’s creation, new things. We have naturalists on staff that actually lead classes, activity classes during the camp day. We have a creator class when they learn about different animals and insects that are in our ecosystem there at camp.

We have a nature hike where they hike around, kids hike around the lake and are able to observe at different stations, different things about the lake and different things about the woods and also different things about the habitat for the animals that we have out there at camp. Then we’re going to offer a few new classes this summer that we’re really excited about.

One of them is Nature’s Detectives where kids will hop in upon possibly a staged scene but maybe not. A scene maybe there’s an animal carcass or maybe that you can see where a squirrel has had his dinner of acorns. Or something like that where kids will like detectives have to deduce what happened on this site. That’s called Nature’s Detectives. We’re probably going to do another class.

These are all very unique in Tulsa summer camps. There’s not any place else that’s going to do these things like Camp Loughridge is doing. There are a lot of great camps in Tulsa but Camp Loughridge is the very best. This other class that we’re going to do is — we haven’t come up with a name for it yet, but we’re going to have kids with nets down in the creek where they’re able to actually fish out small fish and crawdads and other life that occurs in the creek.

They’ll study about water runoff and watershed and all those things when they’re in the creek. This gives kids a really deep understanding, a more well-rounded understanding about the world they live in, the wild world that they live in; God’s creation. We’re looking forward to being to offer that. Kids discover things about themselves. Kids discover things about God and their creation.

We hope that there is a third thing that kids discover and that they have this epiphany of how it all fits that they would discover how they fit in the kingdom of God. They would discover something about not just God’s creation but the most loved of God’s creation which is them. That they would discover something about themselves that reveals to them how special they are.

Not just to their parents and not just to their friends, but to their God. They would understand the basic principle that we believe and teach often that we’re all born for purpose. That this is not just one big giant cosmic mistake or just accident, something that just happened but this was actually planned by God and put forth by God and they have a purpose here on this earth.

We’re there, just like you are his parents. We’re there to help guide them toward their purpose. Train them toward their purpose so that they’re ready to step into their purpose when they get old enough. We pray that they would have the discipline and the self-control and the skills to be able to step into that one when they get old enough.

Discovery, the aha moment, epiphany, those are all very, very important things at maybe a lot of Tulsa summer camps but they’re most important at Camp Loughridge. We believe in it, we’re intentional about it. We design programs and activities around it. Our counselors are trained to be able to keep an eye out for when those moments happen. I talked to the counselors about being ready for the big question.

The big question can be anything from “Why did my grandpa die?” To “Why are leaves green?” to “Why am I here on this earth?” All of those things that counselors are ready, because those are questions that indicate that the heart is open to hear an answer. We have counselors. We’re right in the middle of staff recruiting right now.

We are looking for those counselors that have that missional type of approach that will recognize that question for what it is. That is the question of an open heart and that they’re willing to rush into that or at least to be able to say, “Let’s go find someone who can help you answer your question.”

These are things that excite us, Tulsa Summer Camps that light us up. It’s part of our purpose as staff at Camp Loughridge. It’s part of our mission to provide a place and space for epiphany to happen. I hope you’ll consider sending your child to a week of summer day camp at Camp Loughridge this summer. Thank you.

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