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Marla Smart

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Marla Smart: I love what camp does for kids!

My two younger children are attending their week of church camp right now. For the youngest, this is her first venture into the “high school” camp, and for the older, his last year as a camper...he will be a senior this year. Camp is a yearly tradition for our church and others in our denomination. Camp Crestview (our campground) is located east of Portland on the Columbia Gorge. Our children, along with many others from all over the state, have been attending since the summer before they entered 3rd grade. It has been a great experience for all of them, both as campers and leaders (as they became old enough.)

For the past eleven years, I have directed groups of 60+ adults and teen leaders as they join 200+ 3rd-6th graders to swim, run, climb, craft, sing and take time away to develop a closer relationship with God. My whole family joins me, each of our kids becoming a leader when they “graduate” from the youngest camp. As a director, it has been a very rewarding experience for me. I love to watch the little faces of campers as they learn something new and truly understand it. The days are filled with lots of opportunities to pour good things into the lives of the little ones entrusted to us. There is something about getting away from your normal environment that gives you a chance to “tune in” more. No TV’s, no phones, no computers...just time spent with many other people who have all come together for the same purpose. Not only do the campers start to build lifelong friendships, but we as staff do as well. These relationships are some of the closest I have.

As a mom, I have truly appreciated all the camps my kids have gone to over the years. I love what camp does for kids! At both the camps I’ve directed and others they have attended without me, they have grown so much. It has been a safe, fun environment for my kids, and each summer has afforded them the opportunity to grow beyond what my husband and I can teach them ourselves. When they return home from a week of camp, it is amazing to see what changes have taken place. And, to be really honest, kids need a break too. Their lives are filled with so much, they are always going. It’s good for them to get away and be somewhat forced into unplugging and listening in new ways.

I know my family is blessed to have this place to send our kids. Many people don’t have this opportunity. If you do, be encouraged to take advantage of letting your kids be a part of a camping program. Your whole family will be affected by the good that comes after camp.

Marla Smart is married with three teenagers. Read her Fridays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her personal blog here.

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The News-Review Updated Nov 18, 2013 07:22PM Published Aug 15, 2013 11:45AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.