Camps and Retreat Centers - Often Havens for Contemplative
Christian retreat centers and Christian camps are increasingly bringing contemplative ideas and practices into their camps.
The largest Christian Camp organization may be heading down a dangerous road.
by Scott MacIntyre
Emergent proponent, author, and speaker Tony Campolo is one of the keynote speakers at this year's Christian Camping and Conference Association Convention (CCCA).
Formerly called Christian Camping International, CCCA is the largest representative organization for Christian camps in the United States. They are hosting their annual convention in Philadelphia, PA November 27-30 of this year. According to convention promotion on the CCCA web site, this year's theme is titled, "Rebirth of a Notion", an obvious play on the Philadelphia convention site as the birth place of our nation. In reading further, we discover the 'devil' in the details,
"The theme, "Rebirth of a Notion," will be the basis for exploring how Christian camp leaders can benefit from returning to the philosophical roots of camping, while discovering how to retool for the future."
It is uncertain what "philosophical roots" these may be, but many Christians of discernment will recognize the 'Rick Warren-like' approach of claiming an old message with a new method of communicating. It sounds like the basic, "our message must never change, but our methods must" approach. I'm afraid the message does get changed. With Campolo as a keynote speaker, it's hard to imagine him encouraging hundreds of camp directors and leaders to return to teaching the Bible in their camps.
While it is unfortunate that the leading organization in Christian camping has chosen to have someone like Tony Campolo as a keynote speaker, it is not surprising. It appears that CCCA has been moving in this direction for many years, with recent conventions offering a program heavily laden with methodology, management, and technique. Camp directors and staff, who have just come through a summer of giving 110%, are being inundated with technique when they really need to be refreshed in the teaching of the Word.Note: Last year's convention had Brian McLaren as a speaker.
Jesus Camp, a new film about Christian camps for kids (released this month September 2006), is already stirring up a lot of controversy. Concerns and criticisms are coming from both secular and evangelical sides. New Age website Spirituality and Practice), while saying the film is important because of what it reveals, calls the movie "scary" and suggests that this accurately represents conservative Christianity. Also upset with the film is CCCA (Christian Camps & Conference Association) that responded with a statement on their website, saying:
The camp philosophy and program depicted in the recently released Jesus Camp film, a documentary by Magnolia Pictures, are not truly representative of those in most Christian camps in the United States. [link no longer online]Unfortunately, both Spirituality & Practice and the CCCA have misunderstood what this film really conveys. Click here to read the rest of Jesus Camp, Film Reveals the Mystical and the Militant, Not Biblical Christianity