Next month at this time our students will be boarding buses at Parkwood and our staff will be frantically setting up at Garden City Chapel to try and get ready for their arrive at Getaway 2010. Now that we are only one month away and with the first deadline coming up this Sunday, I thought I'd answer the question "Why we do Getaway?". For those who will read this and don't understand the cost, man hours, and creative energies that go into making a successful camp; you may never ask the above question. But for those who know how much it takes to pull camp off every summer; surely you've wondered, even if briefly, is it worth it. My answer is a resounding, "YES!!!".
First, Getaway gives our students an opportunity to get away. This is one of the main ingredients in a successful camp. Bringing them somewhere that is set apart from their normal routines and distractions will help to clear their minds to think about things of God. You might think that the beach is full of other distractions and we are just moving them from one set of distractions to another. This can be true for some of our students. But when you combine the fact that we have taken them somewhere that is not home and that they spend several hours a day in worship, prayer, small group Bible study, and personal quiet time then you see that the new distractions are minimal compared to what they face during their normal routine. Going somewhere like the beach also allows our students a fun place to invite their lost friends to, so they can come experience the truth of God as well.
Second, our version of camp is unique because of the involvement of our pastoral team. It's not just our student ministry team that make Getaway work. This summer 7 of our 9 pastors, 8 interns, and a couple associate level guys will be at Getaway serving in one capacity or another. Very few other churches will have their senior pastor and worship pastor leading at their camps this summer. Who would be better to speak into the lives of our students than their senior pastor? Who would be better to teach and engage our students in worship than the man God has called to fulfill that role on a weekly basis at Parkwood? There just isn't anyone better. The fact that many of our pastors go and cook, drive, and help out in other ways should speak volumes of how important we truly believe Getaway is. It also gives our students the chance to see our pastors and their families in a relaxed and fun environment which is not always the case while at church.
Third, Getaway gives many adults who are active in our church the opportunity to serve God by serving students at Getaway. We could take our students to a pre-packed youth camp, where few adults chaperones are needed, and they would have a good time and be challenged by God. But doing Getaway the way we do gives the adults in our church an opportunity to use their spiritual gifts of leadership, teaching, hospitality, mercy, and encouragement in a very real way. This is why we try to bring as many adults as we have room for, because Getaway is much more than just a student ministry event. It really does have an impact on Parkwood as a whole.
Finally, there is no other time during the year that I am able to see God work in the lives of so many students. If your student has ever come home from events like 180 Weekend and Fall Retreat with a renewed passion for the Lord, then imagine what would happen over 5 days instead of just a weekend. In my time serving as the student pastor at 4 different churches I have been able to see God save dozens of students, call many into missions or ministry, arrest the attention of believing teenagers who have become lackadaisical or complaisant in their faith, and a myriad of other amazing things while at camp. Seeing God do these things year after year make it personally worth it every time.
These are just a few of the reasons that Getaway is definitely worth the money, time, and energy. The question now becomes, is it worth if for your family to make it possible for the teenager in your household to go or maybe even make it possible for your teenager's lost friends to go to camp with them. Many parents say, "They can always go next year". This is true, for most of us there is always another year. But, having just watched another graduating class have their Senior Night at church, we should be reminded of how fast the teenage years go by and not waste any opportunity for God to work in the lives of our students. I'm praying that God will fill every space we have for camp this year. Not for the sake of having a big camp. But so many more students will have an encounter with the Living God while at Getaway.
Sign your student up now at www.parkwoodstudents.com
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