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When I asked my family what they liked best about Family Camp, I got a variety of answers. Oliver, my oldest son, enjoyed the waterslide and Octaball (which is essentially dodgeball contained within an octagon). Atticus, my middle child with crazy hair and limitless energy liked everything, especially the Base Camp Live! skit “Meet the Stevens.” Alice, my youngest, loved when I taught about Jesus (I know we aren’t supposed to have favorite children… but come on!). She even said that it was better than when everyone sang songs from “Frozen” at breakfast. Family Camp was a great time not only for my children, but for my whole family. My wife Kelly adored the relaxed nature of the camp and great amount of time set aside for family fun.

I’m so thankful to be a part of a church that does Family Camp and I was so proud of our staff and volunteers that worked so hard to create an environment where parents could simply enjoy their kids. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to just enjoy your kids solely for the sake of enjoyment, especially as they get older. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on delighting in them instead of the litany of things that need to be accomplished, whether it’s homework or correcting behavior or driving to football practice (and if you’re doing Pop Warner that means everyday!).

The staff had several meetings in order to plan what would be taught during the main worship times, but if you were in attendance, you know that any goals regarding teaching “take-aways” were quickly abandoned (try teaching to group that spanned ages 2 to 50 for more than five minutes). At one point during Eddie Kaufholz’s talk, he made the mistake of sitting on the edge of the stage causing him to be completely inundated by children. The fact that the kids interrupted his planned message was okay because what remained was time together, just enjoying each other, just because.

When Oliver was two, we started a ritual at bedtime where he would ask me why I loved him. I would always respond, “Why do you think I love you?” which would initiate the following exchange:

“Is it because I’m so smart?”

“No. You are so smart, but that’s not why.”

“Is it because I’m so handsome?”

“You are extremely handsome, but no, that’s not why.”

“Is it because I always obey?”

“Definitely not.”

Feigning exasperation, he would cry, “Why do you love me then!?”

Grabbing hold of him and squeezing him tightly, I would respond, “Just because. Just because you’re mine.”

I’m grateful for Family Camp because it reminded me of why I love my kids. The same reason God loves me—Just because. Just because I’m His.

Check out Family Camp photos here.