It’s still winter and snow is on the ground, but in my house we have already begun to plan for how we’ll spend our summer vacation. Where should we go? What should we see? For my family, how we plan what our summer months look like revolves completely around which week our three kids will be going to camp! Attending camp at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp takes priority as we set the stage for the other adventures in our life.
As parents to three children, my husband and I are responsible for shaping and molding their lives. Certainly they have their own interests and own unique self expressions, but we have been entrusted to do our best to guide them to be kind, caring, contributing people in this world. What we do, what we prioritize for them, contributes overwhelmingly to the person they are now and the person they will become as an adult. Doing their best at school, appreciating music and the arts, volunteering in their community, being connected to family and friends of all generations – these are all qualities I want my kids to value. Is faith life secondary to those, an “extra” to be thought of at the end of the day, a hope that it all turns out alright? Or is nurturing their faith life the center from which all other avenues in their life flow?
When I send my kids to camp, I know that I am giving them an opportunity completely different than the learning that happens at school, music or sports activities, or even traditional church. At camp, youth have an intentional space to grow in faith, to get to know Jesus, to see God in all creation – both in beauty of location and in the camp community. One of the primary forces in kids’ lives is relationship (think parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches- in adolescence this is strongly seen in valuing what their peers think and do) but often we neglect what relationship our child has with their faith – with God active in their lives. The combination of friends (including those peers they have yet to meet at camp!) and shared experiences together solidify the authenticity of making God real and relevant to them. This is exactly what FLBC does!
Why do I send my kids to FLBC? Because I know without a doubt that the combination of amazing college staff, the activities from high ropes to canoeing, the study of Bible and service, and the location of lake and mountains, all make an impact on my children. Even for just one week, they leave changed, grown and excited for more. That kind of excitement for life, a faith-centered life, is contagious. I am excited for them, to see how their life journey will unfold, and slightly jealous that they, not me, get to have this awesome experience.
My youngest was cared for by a camp “grandma” when she didn’t know anyone the first night, and by the end of the week she had made a penpal friend with a girl from a different state. My oldest is gaining confidence in being “on his own” for a week; camp is a safe place to learn how to self-manage and problem solve without (well intending) hovering parents. My middle child has taken new risks each year – ropes, hiking, performing, leadership, making friends – that demonstrate her growing confidence in trying new things and living into who God created her to be.
FLBC connects youth of all ages from across the state and the country and essentially says “look! – there are other kids out there for whom it’s also cool to love God, to talk about faith and to serve your community.” In everything that happens at FLBC God is there – in the lake, in cabin time, in ropes, in worship – God is there. My kids leave knowing that God wasn’t just at camp – but is in all they do the rest of the year. At home, in school and activities – God is there, too! The foundational message they leave camp and come home with is this: you are a beloved child of God, just as you are, you matter.
Thank you FLBC… my kids are registered and we are ready for summer!
Linden Wendle is a local Flathead Valley mom and teacher who is passionate about outdoor camping ministry. She has lived a little bit of everywhere, but claims roots in the many formative summers she spent as both a camper and later a camp counselor. Linden is delighted that her children have been growing their own roots at FLBC.