Expectations are high for the return of VC summer camp.
This summer, for the first time in nearly two years, summer camp is back at Vineyard Columbus.
From Aug. 1-6 middle school students will gather for six days and five nights at Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio, to connect with other kids, worship and pray, and face off against a massive slip-and-slide as big as your house.
“I would say it’s a super fun, high-energy, adventure-filled week,” said Hope Hawthorne a 17-year-old camp counselor who attended camp all through middle school. “If you want to do activities all the time you can do that or if you want to be more chill you can do that. No matter what adventure you choose God is going to meet you there.”
Hope hasn’t missed a Vineyard summer camp since the sixth grade and is one of many kids who have come to expect amazing things at camp, both relationally and spiritually.
VC Students Pastor Michael Doom, who runs the camp and has also been attending since he was in middle school, said expectancy is one of the things that sets summer camp apart from other church activities.
“We know camp is already a fun event because of all the stuff going on and throughout all of these things there’s high expectation for fun and that helps students have a high expectation for community and what God can do. When we expect God to move then we are more likely to see God move."
Although summer camp has a reputation for being extraordinarily fun, it’s about more than just having a good time. Many students form deep, meaningful relationships at camp and connect in ways that aren’t always possible in a normal church setting.
“The thing I really love the most about camp is the bonding and the relationships you form,” said Hope. “Camp is like a super time machine where like it hits the fast button on friendships: It’s just easier and faster. I’ve experienced it and I love it.”
Worship is another aspect of summer camp that students look forward to.
Doom said the combination of environment, expectancy, and great bands often leads to an incredible worship experience and helps create space for the Holy Spirit to move.
“Worship is just so different at camp,” he added. “The level of worship is great, and I think it comes back to expectation. There’s a little more openness for students to share what’s going on in their lives, things they’re struggling with, and that helps us, minister to them throughout the year.”
One of the best reasons to attend summer camp is that it gives students an opportunity to encounter God in a new and different way.
Hope said she loves praying for people at camp and has seen God doing amazing things there.
Doom had a similar experience when he first attended back in the early 2000s.
“Summer camp was the first time I really experienced God,” he said. “I came from a church that didn’t really emphasize that and it was kind of like this new, weird thing to me. I wanted to see it more often. I wanted this to be a regular thing in my life.”
Camp is a highlight of the summer every year, but this year, in particular, will be special as many students, many of whom spent much of the last 15 months in quarantine, will gather in person for the first time in over a year.
“Having an event like summer camp really signifies a milestone with where things are now, post COVID,” said Doom. “We can have a stay away from large camp event for our students. We’re excited for what God is going to do.”
“I think camp is a really fun adventure. It’s a great time and it’s really valuable,” said Hope. “If you come with expectancy and wanting and asking the Lord to show you something, in yourself and others, he is going to do so. No matter how much you think you know about the Lord he’s going to keep blowing your mind if you let him.”