Camp is a foundation

First-time camper experiences God’s love through counselors and staff at Camp Lakewood

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**Camp Lakewood - **Before ever attending overnight camp, 6-year-old Sam Petty was already certain he wanted to stay longer than the three-day mini camp at Camp Lakewood would allow. His parents, Matt and Stacie, thought it would be better to try mini camp first, but knew how excited Sam was about the upcoming experience.

“He was very excited and very pumped up and we were just excited for him. We just wanted him to enjoy himself and experience this atmosphere,” Stacie said.

Matt and Stacie were anxious to pick their son up at the end of camp, but they were confident that he’d had a blast. Even when dropping him off for his first overnight camp, Sam’s parents were reassured by Camp Lakewood’s friendly, excited and caring staff.

“We are intentional about building relationships and about being a community,” Lakewood Director Karen Hamaker said. “We get campers connected to their counselors and their cabin group right away, and they begin playing games and getting involved. The counselors are engaging and try to find common ground to get campers talking and to build those relationships.”

The Petty’s noticed the counselors’ energy and excitement for the week to come, and were comforted by it.

“We were just excited for him,” Matt said. “It was nice to see all the counselors out there welcoming all the kids. They weren’t walking around wondering where to go or anything. They were told this is where we’re going and this is what we’re going to be doing.”

[![IMG_9392](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/h_200,w_300/v1423286556/IMG_9392_nzwove.jpg)](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423286556/IMG_9392_nzwove.jpg)After a great mini-week at camp, Sam was greeted by his parents for the camp celebration.
Having gone to camp as a child, Matt was excited for Sam to learn and grow during his time at Lakewood. Stacie, who had never been to camp, knew how important it would be for Sam to learn independence.

“I always went to different camps and think it’s very good for children to be away from their parents for an extended amount of time,” Matt said “It teaches them a lot of different things and they can interact with older adults as well as kids their age when mom and dad aren’t around.”

Allowing children to experience camp in a Christ-centered environment is even more rewarding as they are surrounded by staff and volunteers overflowing with the love of God. They’re able to learn more about the Lord while experiencing new adventures.

“Camp is a foundation for their lives as a follower of Jesus Christ.  In schools, children are taught about having good character,” Karen said. “Along those same lines, we teach those values with the biblical truth at camp. We talk about loving your neighbor, so for their time at camp the staff, the counselors and directors are all teaching those truths with words and with actions.”

When Sam arrived home from camp, he couldn’t stop talking about the fun he had and the new friends he made.

“He loved it. He absolutely loved it,” Stacie said. “He could not stop talking about messy games, and he talked about some of the friends that he made and how nice everyone was. He really had a great time.”

Matt and Stacie are sure Sam will return to camp next summer.