Hiking and playing outdoors are adventures children growing up in the country take for granted. But an entire population of children grow up in urban areas where they rarely if ever get to experience the wide world of outdoors or the beauty of nature. Since its earliest years, Streamside Camp and Conference Center in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, has been dedicated to help remedy this situation. Camp staff understand how God uses the beauty of His creation to draw people to Himself. For this reason, they focus on camping programs for inner-city youth.
Every summer buses bring children and teens from inner cities like Philadelphia and New York City to the green, wooded setting of Camp Streamside in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains. For many of these urban children and even teenagers, this is their first trip away outside the inner city.
Another of BCM’s larger camp properties, Streamside can accommodate up to 278 campers at one time. This summer almost 600 inner-city campers attended their urban youth programs. 43 staff members, 12 adult volunteers, 12 teens enrolled in leadership training programs, and 15 chaperons from collaborating Christian ministries kept camp programs running this summer.
As a year-round facility, Streamside also accommodates retreats for a wide variety of churches and Christian ministry organizations. While urban youth is a major focus, more than just inner city children attend camp there. Streamside offers family and day camps as well as Student Leadership Training camps. Activities include archery, boating, fishing, campfires, hayrides, hiking, gaga pit (a type of dodgeball, but played inside a “pit” with just one ball), outdoor pool, and snow tubing for winter retreats.
This summer’s overall theme resonates well with a generation consumed by social media: “@StreamsideCamp #snapshots.” Campers absorbed images of God’s love, including “God’s Love is for Real”, “God’s Love is Forever”, and “God’s Love is for Sharing”. Their theme verse was 1 John 4:16: “So that we may come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.”
Some Streamside campers share their thoughts on this summer’s camp week:
“Thank you for providing me with this wonderful week. I gave my life to Christ and I believe my life will change.”—Integrity
“What I like most about Streamside is how much they appreciate God. God should be number one in everyone’s life. I felt as though this camp helped me get closer to God. I also liked the activities. At Streamside they help you experience new things.”—Jada
Kara Calvert traveled from Lake Orion, Michigan, to be a counselor at Streamside for the first time this summer. She shares her experience: “Something that stands out specifically is about God’s peace in crazy situations. At night, before we turned the lights out in our cabin, we would do group devotions—one that we as counselors wrote during training week. The one I’d written was on the peace God gives even when life can feel chaotic. Though this devotion was meant for my campers, it affected me just as much. The core verse I used was John 14:27: “I give you peace, the kind of peace only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give, so don’t be worried or afraid.” After a day filled with a ton of energy and often a good dose of emotion, it was hard for all of us to unwind at the end of the day. To relax the campers, we would turn off all the lights until there was just one flashlight beam on the ceiling. Then in a quiet voice, I would tell my campers about how God’s peace is there as long as we seek it out. As I talked, I could see my energetic group of girls slowly wind down until they were ready for sleep. As I helped them into their bunks and tucked them in, I reflected on how much peace God had given me in that moment as well. Serving touches ourselves just as much as the ones we are there to serve.”
Pray that Streamside Camp will continue to be an appealing, safe and life-changing place for campers and staff. Pray for more staff. Streamside is in need of additional team members for the summer of 2015. Pray for strong relationships with collaborating Christian ministries and resources for those ministries to be able to send an increasing number of children to camp.
Sign up for a winter retreat or keep informed with the many happenings of Streamside Camp by visiting: http://streamside.org/
Originally Published in BCM World September 2014