Summer is here, and the kids are out of school until fall. Many Christian parents will be sending their youth to Christian summer camps or retreats. But there are now many Christian retreat and conference centers that are advocating or promoting contemplative spirituality and the emerging church. Such camps would be spiritually dangerous choices to send a child or teen to for summer camp. Please use wisdom and discernment when choosing a summer camp. And instead of sending your child alone to a camp, consider attending a family camp where the entire family goes together. Either way, please be careful.
If you are planning to use the website of the Christian Camp & Conference Association to find a camp, added care is needed. CCCA has been promoting contemplative spirituality for some time. For instance, CCCA’s 2011 National Conference titled Prepare to Engage National Conference, featured speakers Dusty and Maggie Robbins, authors of Enjoy the Silences. On the CCCA website for that conference, it stated: “Maggie Robbins and Duffy Robbins will lead you through a process that helps Scripture come alive, and into our lives. It’s known as Lectio Divina. Come closer to God through a guided process of reading, meditating, listening and responding to God’s word.” Maggie Robbins was trained at the pro-contemplative, pro-Eastern-style mediation, Kairos School of Spiritual Formation? Dusty Robbins is scheduled as a speaker for this year’s National Conference (called If?) too.
In the Christian Camp & Conference Association May/June 2009 Insite newsletter, an article is included, “A Place Away,” that encourages using a labyrinth for children. Other CCCA newsletters also encourage contemplative spirituality. And topics on “Spiritual Formation” permeate the site as well.
Look out for Christian camps for youth that use labyrinths. Camp Westminister in Michigan (Presbyterian USA) does, for one, as does Pilgrim Lodge (United Church of Christ). Incidentally, Pilgrim also promotes New Age sympathizer, Matthew Fox. Camp Aldersgate in Ohio also uses the labyrinth. In 2011, North Carolina United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries had Leonard Sweet as a speaker for their fund raiser to help “fulfill dreams of sharing camp with more children.” Crooked Creek Christian Camp (Mennonite affiliated) in Iowa offers a labyrinth. This is just a sampling of what is happening in many Christian camps today. We could give many more examples.
And then there is Yoga. According to one article, Camp Squeah (a Mennonite camp) in Hope, BC, Canada has offered labyrinths in the past, and this year, they are offering Yoga at their summer camp. Silver Lake Conference Center (United Church of Christ) in Connecticut doesn’t offer Yoga classes to the youth but they have a Yoga retreat in the Fall for women, and there is a labyrinth on the grounds.
Many summer youth camps now incorporate “Spiritual Formation” into their camp programs. The Dakota District for the Wesleyan Church did this in their 2012 summer programs at Cedar Canyon Camp. This year at Cedar Canyon, the Wesleyan Family Camp has Dr. Mark Butcher as speaker. Butcher is with an organization called New Church Specialties (listed in the Lighthouse Trails Top 50 Contemplative Organizations). The Wesleyan Church denomination has been significantly promoting contemplative spirituality in many ways.
Whatever plans you have for your children and teens this summer, we hope you will not expose them to contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and the emerging church.