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A Holy Haven.....

Dreaming about a new camp……

At a time like this, when everything is topsy-turvy and upside down, I think more and more about how I would like to do things differently at my little camp,  if the all time and resources were available.  After all, everything is going to be different after this virus—that’s a certainty.  Maybe we can open the camp, “resurrected” in a brave, new way! So I have been thinking  about what I would ideally like to offer for campers and our community (and what I  would eschew).

First, I would like to offer to campers and families free. I would also like to offer our visa program (we help foreign staff acquire a J1 summer work visa) free.  Yes, I know it’s insane, but I am dreaming right now.  But wouldn’t it be wonderful if our camp (with fees at $1350/week) offered children the most exciting time of their life free of charge?  And the same for staff. What if each staff we accepted did not have to contend with a $500 charge for the visa fee?  After camp was over, the parents and staff would be invited to offer any kind of “gift” they wanted that represented their satisfaction with the camp, and those funds would pay for the next summer. This makes sense to me, but my friends and board members would be quick to tell me that most people (no names, nationalities or political parties to be mentioned) would probably pay “zero”.     And some would, but I believe that people are often more generous than you realize and that most parents and staff would be honorable, and some might even pay more than expected.

But there are also some things I would not do or allow, that we have permitted in the past and is constantly being requested.  And this list I might appear to be too fanciful or prejudiced towards my understanding of worship, but I am merely dreaming.  

a. I would not adhere to the notion, prevalent among megachurches and youth ministries, that  youth and children have to be entertained and stimulated in order to hear the gospel.  So I would not allow, or allow others to use our camp, if they wanted to turn worship services into mini “pop concerts”.  

It appears that we are pandering to young people when we use gimmicks to share the truth about God or when we complain that they will not sit still unless you have a rock band on a stage along an expensive sound system, videos and a laser show.  

b. I would not focus on large church retreats but instead upon opening the camp on the weekends for individuals, couples, families or small groups seeking God in nature, the solitude of the mountains or a group looking for  a “Trappist” environment to be alone with God.

c. Finally, I would like to create a chapel on the property that was dedicated to God’s glory and the elevation of Jesus Christ, but devoid of anything that would take away from a simple focus on the Trinity.  No loud speakers, projectors, TV monitors and no wifi or internet access. I dream of a quiet and holy place where the focal point is the spoken word and the community of the redeemed raising their voices in honor of Him and His beloved Son.

In my new “dream camp” I would be sure that He was the focus—not activities or events or celebrated speakers.  What I yearn for, I suppose, is “heaven on earth”. During these times of reflection I am “homesick” for how things could/should be.

I know that this is a rather “soap-boxy” kind of blog today, and as former youth pastor of a large metropolitan church I appreciate the challenges that youth pastors and youth leaders face.  But more and more it seems like we’re begging youth to come to events instead of carefully “setting the table” and inviting young people to meet the King of Kings.  Youth need God and should be reminded that He is Holy. There’s nothing wrong with demanding that those entering into a “holy haven” have reverence for the God to whom it is dedicated and to stand in awe of Him.

We don’t need technology, padded pews or air-conditioning to worship the Lord.


Dean Barley

1945 Vineyard Road

Westfield, NC 27053

336 351 2070

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