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5 Good Reasons to Send Your Child To Camp

With all the activity options kids have to choose from these days, it can be challenging to determine which experiences are worth the investment of time (our kids’) and money (our own). Here are a few of the reasons why a week—or a summer—at camp should be at the top of your short list:IMG_1358 Camp promotes autonomy and resilience. There is a reason why the term “helicopter camp counselor” will never catch on the way “helicopter parent” has. While many parents are investing boundless time and energy protecting their kids from potential failure, camp offers a respite from that overprotection, an opportunity for young people to safely venture out, fall off the horse—or more likely, out of the canoe—get back up and learn something about what they’re truly capable of in the process.

Camp is a place for kids to belong. Rituals are an integral part of camp. From silly chants that accompany the nightly walk from dining hall to campfire to the long-established traditions of skit night or closing ceremony, each camp has it’s own rituals, and they are huge part of the experience, helping immerse campers fully in the culture of camp and producing a keen sense of belonging. For some kids, that sense of inclusion may not exist outside of camp. The camp experience offers not only a shared identity but also a way to discover and strengthen shared values or faith.

Camp strengthens social skills. Increased screen time is making it more difficult for kids to acquire and strengthen social skills, which are as vital to success as academic skills, and essential to building and maintaining healthy relationships. Camp offers an opportunity to chip away at this social skills deficit. A 2014 study published by UCLA researchers found that after spending just a week at camp, away from on-screen media, sixth graders were better at reading the nonverbal emotional cues of those around them, a key indicator of social/emotional intelligence.

Camp cultivates relationships. Camp enables kids to expand their social networks. Social expectations—while not entirely absent—are often softened at camp; boundaries that exist in school settings are blurred. Some camps also provide the opportunity for kids to build friendships with a diverse group of peers, bringing together kids from varying faith backgrounds, socio-economic groups and ethnicities, as well as providing a place for kids with varied interests to find common ground.

Peer relationships aren’t the only ones that thrive in a camp environment. Kids also have the chance to form bonds with adults who aren’t in parent or teacher roles and opportunities to practice interacting with adults without mom or dad prompting them or speaking for them.

Camp provides affirmation. Because of the variety of activities and challenges offered at camp, kids are empowered to discover and take pride in what makes them unique, even when those traits are well outside the bounds of what’s celebrated at school or even at home. A good camp counselor will work to bring out the best in each camper, helping him or her discover new passions and strengths. This affirmation of abilities and value leads to self-confidence that follows kids long after the closing camp ceremony.

As you consider how your kids will spend their summer—and how you will spend your money—a week at Tall Timber Ranch is a great investment of both. One that reinforces the things parents care about—and deals with at least one of the worries parents have: getting kids outdoors.

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2013 Merry Christmas

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Isaiah 9:6 is a familiar passage that speaks with profound purpose in The Message. Our Eternal Father has been working all year at Tall Timber Ranch, transforming the lives of those He brings here.  Your support, through your prayers, service and gifts, is a source of great joy for our many guests. We invite you to celebrate with us the coming of the Light of the World.

2013_christmas_004Junior Campers

Lyndsay’s prayer truly spoke to me. I connected with God through her, and I’m so glad she was there to talk with me.

I have grown in thought. I’ve thought more about god and how he’s in my life and how he’ll always walk beside me and within me. Walking through the labyrinth and praying there was very important to me.

2013_christmas_003Junior High Campers

This week at camp has been amazing! I made tons of new friends and feel closer to God and I learned more about him. I think what mostly made me feel closer to God was the guest speaker and solo time. I learned tons of new things like rock climbing, Frisbee, dancing, and got to experience new things like the giant swing, high ropes, and zip line.

I learned many new skills; how to rock climb, how to dance, how to go on high ropes. I conquered my fear of heights that I didn’t even know I had. I came here not knowing God and have grown closer to him this week. I got many new friends. This was a great Experience.

2013_christmas_001Senior High Campers

I just want to thank everyone who worked to get this camp up and running the way it does, it rocks! I learned a lot this week, especially from the speaker's talks, they were so inspirational. My faith has definitely done a 180. I loved this week and it has made me realize that God is there for me and I don’t need to turn away from him when the road gets bumpy, cause that when I need him the most. Thank you so much.

I love coming here and being able to learn about god. It’s a safe place to grow and learn. Also being able to open up to God surrounded by people who love you is an awesome feeling.

The most meaningful thing I did this week was sharing testimonies with my cabin. It really made me think deeper about my story and that I never know what people have been through until I learn their story. I learned that God works in different ways for everyone and shows himself differently.

Dear Tall Timber Family,

Through Bible teaching at camp or a teachable moment by a counselor, God is using the people at Tall Timber Ranch to bring His healing to guests.

While revenues from fees go a long way to covering our expenses, we absolutely relay on the generosity of those people and churches who understand the value of a camp or retreat experience in shaping the life of a child or adult.  Thank you, we could not do without your help.

Blessings, Stan Fishburn Executive Director

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A very natural bookend

stan_becky            Becky and I plan to conclude our full-time employment at camp early in 2015. This will be 35 years from our initial employment with Tall Timber Ranch, on the Major Mission Fund grant which first brought us here in May 1980. This feels like a very natural bookend to our tenure here.  It has been our honor and joy to serve the children, youth and families for whom Tall Timber is "holy ground", and we will continue to serve wholeheartedly until the new Director is here. We know great things are in store for the future of this amazing place! Blessings,

Stan and Becky Fishburn

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In unique Out-of Door Settings, the reconciling love of God is proclaimed

This line from the Tall Timber Statement of Purpose identifies one important aspect of the powerful impact the camping experience has on the lives of those who visit this beautiful place we call Tall Timber Ranch. I like to think of it as “the witness of creation” to the human spirit. Psalm 19 says:“the heavens are telling the glory of God, and the skies proclaim His handiwork … day after day they pour forth speech and night after night they display knowledge …there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard…”

David’s eloquent words are telling us that there is an even more eloquent voice which tells all people about God’s qualities – the voice of His Creation. The gentleness of a doe with her fawn, the grandeur of mountain peaks, the complexity of ecosystems, the delicate beauty and attention to detail of a tiny wildflower, the life-giving purity of cold clear water, the soothing peace of a quiet cedar grove. The sense of eternity when gazing at star filled heavens without city lights. These powerful moments reach through and soften the human heart to receive God’s message that we are loved, valued and forgiven by someone powerful enough to make a difference in our lives.

These experiences are important for people of all ages, but they are especially crucial for the spiritual and emotional growth of children. Author Richard Louv argues this point convincingly in his recent book Last Child in the Woods (Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder). I highly recommend it for any parent or grandparent. Louv asserts that the Baby Boom generation was the last generation of children allowed to freely “play in the woods” – or the barn, creek, canyon etc. Today’s children are so closely supervised, structured and media saturated, and their environments so modified by human control that they have lost the freedom to play, explore, experiment and wind down in a natural setting. He makes the case powerfully for the benefits of natural places to play on the physical, emotional, social and moral development of children. But in this secular book’s concluding section, he argues for the importance of these opportunities in the child’s spiritual development; “Nature introduces children to the idea – to the knowing – that they are not alone in this world, and that realities and dimensions exist alongside their own.” (pg 290) It is that sense of “knowing” that I observe year after year as kids come to camp. A child’s spiritual awareness is on a deeply visceral and experiential basis. They don’t need to understand it all if they can experience it. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said “unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom”.

If you love a child or young person, you are likely overwhelmed with choices about what they should be doing this summer. It seems that everyone has discovered the benefits of a week at camp for their specialty – from sports camps and computer camps to weight loss camps and even “American Idol” camp! But don’t forget the most important reason of all to go to camp - spiritual growth – and the impact of beautiful natural places on that experience. That benefit is eternal, and impacts every other area of your child’s life. And there is no more beautiful place to experience our Lord in the beauty of his Creation than Tall Timber Ranch!

I leave you to reflect on the following quote:

All my life I have heard that God loves me… But this week I really experienced it!

-Tall Timber Camper

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