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FIRST-PERSON: Keep the camp fires burning

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The tears.

The promises.

The warm fuzzy feeling around the camp fire.

Souls are saved and hearts are transformed every summer when students get away from it all and spend time focused solely on worship and Bible study. But what happens after those teens return home? Reality hits them hard. Siblings, jobs and ungodly friends are right where they left them.

As a parent, how do you help your teenager adjust to life after camp? Keep the camp fires burning by encouraging accountability, reminding him of the practical fundamentals of Christian growth, and personally encouraging him to live out life in the valley between those mountaintop highs. Check out these tips.

1. Go global. When a young person has a salvation experience at camp, a safe way to tell if it was genuine is by whether or not he is motivated to tell his friends. Have your teen make a list of people he wants to tell about his newfound salvation in Christ. This is a time for a testimony. Encourage your youth to proclaim Christ through e-mails, phone calls, text messaging, and on their Facebook or MySpace page. Explain that this means many things in his life are going to have to change. Telling people what has happened not only makes him accountable, but it will be instrumental in leading some of those folks to Christ.

2. Build an altar. Throughout the Old Testament, we see great men of faith erecting altars as reminders of their personal encounters with God. After returning from camp, encourage your teen to record her memories of what happened. There are several ways to approach building an altar in the new millennium:

— She can post pictures and comments on her Facebook page.

— Build a blogsite for her pictures and invite others in her group to join and post their own memories of camp. This would be a great place to share prayer requests, too.

— Purchase the necessary supplies to help her create a memory scrapbook of the week.

— Pick up some smooth white stones at a garden shop. Using paint pens, let her build a real altar of stones, decorating each one with Scripture and praises specific to her camp experience.

3. Encourage active ministry. How will camp make a difference in your teens? It will most often show in their desire to take on active ministry and evangelism efforts. Do your teens know how to share their faith? Capitalize on the “God-high” that camp provides to nudge them out of their comfort zones and into the exciting world of missions. Help them consider their schools and unsaved family members as personal mission fields.

For many teens, camp is a surreal experience, an intense but passing high like any other temporary fix the world offers them. If we really want to help our teens keep that camp fire spirit and make good on the life they really want to live, the most important thing we can do is show them our own surrendered life through the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible study. These basics are crucial for Christians who want to achieve steady growth toward maturity. As we seek Christ through His Word and prayer, we let Jesus live His life through us. That is when our teens will see how an authentic Christ-follower lives not only in the “God-highs” of summer camp, but also in the ho-hums of everyday life.
Rebecca Ingram Powell is a pastor’s wife and mother of three. She is the author of “Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose.” Visit her website at www.rebeccapowell.com.

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  • Rebecca Powell