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It's time to send kids to an old fashioned summer youth camp

Laura and Mark at Headquarters © D.P. Clarke
Laura and Mark at Headquarters © D.P. Clarke
Laura and Mark at Headquarters © D.P. Clarke

Shiloh Adventure Camp is literally a family affair. It was founded by Laura Smith, and is run by Laura and her son, Mark, who is the Camp Director. Shiloh Adventure Camp has two goals, to get children away from electronics and back into nature, and to provide college-age role models.

Mark says what makes Shiloh Adventure Camp unique is the three-to-one camper to staff ratio. Paid senior staffers are in college, while junior staff volunteers are high-school age. They are recruited from kids who’ve been to the camp, know what it involves, and have a passion for it. According to Laura, camp counselors need to: 1) love the Lord; 2) love children; and, 3) they better be able to tolerate high levels of heat.

Shiloh Adventure Camp is for children ages 8 to 15. Everything the campers do, staff does, too. Camp counselors are right there creating the experience with the kids. Everyone’s up in the morning, they all get out into nature. Camp is on the water, so there is tubing, boating, fishing, etc. There are also land-based events including competitions and games; there is a different themed party night for each of the 8 five and one-half day sessions.

Laura explains how she hosts a tea party for the girls, complete with multi-patterned fine-china cups. It’s an exercise she uses to help them learn to value themselves. She demonstrates with a coffee mug, a throwaway cup, and a china teacup, asking which they think they are – fine china, average mug, or a throwaway.

In the evening there is worship and Bible study. Shiloh Adventure Camp is not affiliated with any denomination. However, they provide the message that God loves you, God chose you, and created you for a purpose, a future, and a hope. Youth pastors from local churches spend different evenings sharing with the campers.

An interesting point Laura makes is how kids ages 12-15 are left to fend for themselves during the summer. They are too old for day care and too young to work. In these situations, a week at this old-fashioned summer camp can be beneficial. Testimonials from Shiloh Adventure Camp alumni include children whose attitudes about life changed because of the experience, and families who have been touched by God’s love.

Shiloh Adventure Camp can provide some financial assistance, and there are programs in Florida which will pay for children in foster care to go to camp. Laura wants foster families to know that children between the ages of 8-15 can go to summer camp and the cost is covered by the foster agencies. This includes Shiloh Adventure Camp, the only overnight camp that she’s aware of. And, she feels, it’s the overnight experience which makes all the difference in kids lives.

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