Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 16, 1959

Concerning "Youth Camps"

N. W. Allphin, Tahoka, Texas

It is amazing to note the amount of space some of our religious journals are now giving to the wild, fantastic stories written by enthusiastic institution-promoting brethren regarding "Youth Camps," etc. I said amazing, not amusing. However, these stories would be amusing if the question were not a serious one. Of course, they quote no scriptural authority in support of their religio-social projects, and for the good reason that there is no Bible authority for any such things. It is fair, in most instances, to publish what a writer sends in; but a good editor (as I view the matter) ought to publish in the same issue at least a brief criticism of any questionable practices or statements about them.

The F. F. Apr. 7, 1959 issue carried an article by Bro. C. A. Farley, director of "Blue Haven Youth Camp," Las Vegas, New Mexico, concerning summer youth camps, in which he paints a rather imposing picture stressing the ultra importance of and vital need for such camps. I quote from his article, in part, as follows:

"The summer Bible camp for boys and girls provides opportunities for Christian learning and guidance that cannot be achieved elsewhere in the program of Christian education. If there is such a thing as an ideal teaching situation, it will probably be found at summer camp."(emphasis mine A)

What a wonderful tribute to man's wisdom and ingenuity! Indeed, he is wielding a wide brush! Such exaggerated claims for humanly devised projects are unique, because they are entirely unknown to the New Testament, which is the source of our religious faith, and is our authority for all that we are to do in both worship and service activities.

It is in this Book that we are to find all that our Lord desires us to be, authorizes us to say, and commands us to do, religiously. This means that when our Savior (specifies what we are to do in worship and service, all else, by implication, is excluded therefrom. Stated in other terms, it means' that we are to respect both the Lord's speech and his silence! In recent examples some writers and speakers do neither.

Where did any apostle or New Testament writer say anything about a youth camp? We must not forget that Jesus told his apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things, and bring to their remembrance all that he said unto them. (Jno. 14:26 and 16:13,14.) What has happened? Did the H. S. decline to teach them all things? or to refresh their memory on all that he said? Or did the apostles refuse to tell us all that the Spirit revealed unto them? Neither of these things is true. Somebody has made a serious blunder; and it cannot be charged against the Holy Spirit nor the New Testament writers. 'If the summer camp offers the best "situation for Christian learning and guidance," how can we account for the fact that the Bible is as silent as the stars regarding any such subject? We cannot! Brother F., like many others. has just dished up a batch of the "wisdom of this world" that all God-fearing men and women should cast aside as dross, because God has said. "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise." and "hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (I Cor. 1:19,20.)

In the last sentence of the above quotation (whether its author saw it or not), his subjunctive, "if there is", etc. "it will probably be found," etc. reduces all above it to a hypothesis and mere conjecture; that and nothing more! Yet, in succeeding paragraphs he gives what are supposed to be reasons why the "camp" is the best place for Christian learning and guidance. First, he says, "A camping experience capitalizes on the natural interests of boys and girls." What has the natural interests got to do with Christian training? Nothing! Next, of physical conditions, he says, "The glory of a quiet sunset (Is a sunset at home or church noisy?), the beauty of a mountain forest, the grandeur of a gorgeous cloud effect make an indelible impression on campers." Can't a mountain forest be seen without going in a group to camp? And are there no clouds around home? Impressions made there could be the opposite of Christian learning. Again, he says, "Christian fellowship at camp is genuine." Is there no genuine fellowship at home or in church? Continuing, he says, "the small group constantly living together, sharing responsibilities . . . come to know one another with a depth of feeling that is seldom experienced in the church back home . . ." Do the youngsters have no responsibilities at home or in the church, as members? They should have, and should be taught this fact. If this "feeling seldom experienced in the church back home" is a statement of fact, then there is something wrong with the church back home. What church back home he is talking about, I do not know. It wouldn't be the one at Merkel where he is an elder, would it? If this condition exists there or elsewhere, I suggest that the trouble may be with the leadership of the church.

Bro. F. further avers that.... "most of our religion is based on what others have said." I think he means what uninspired speakers and writers have said. Well, not most, ALL of it should come from our Savior, through his ambassadors — (See Mark 16:15 and 2 Cor. 5:20). Next comes this, "Campers have an opportunity to see Christian love and their virtues in practice 24 hours a day." Then this, "The relaxed pace of camping allows time for discovery (of what?), meditation, reflection and wonder; for evaluation of personal values." To me the meaning of all this is a bit obscure. Next, he gives this equally lucid ( ?) narration, "Until boys and girls have had personal experiences, their faith lacks conviction and vitality." What kind of "experiences"? There is more of it, but it is an irksome task to ferret out the significance of the somewhat illusory diction, so I desist.