Last year my family didn’t go to Family Camp. We had a baby instead. And as much as Oliver, Atticus, and Alice love their new baby sister, they’ve made it known that there is no excuse for missing Family Camp.
Oliver and Atticus loved playing Octaball (which essentially is dodgeball contained within eight walls, forming an octagon). Alice loved making new friends and being free to wander around the campground playing “make believe.” Kelly and I loved getting away with our kids with no real agenda other than being present with them. We can’t wait to be back there!
I’m so thankful to be a part of a church that does Family Camp. And I have to brag a little bit about our staff and volunteers, because they work so hard to create an environment where parents can come and 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. It’s hard to focus on delighting in them instead of on what needs to be accomplished— whether it’s homework or correcting behavior or driving to football practice.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my oldest son Oliver, who is now 11, and realizing how fast the time has gone by. I know that is so cliché but I’m living the cliché. And it’s really sobering. He will be in middle school next year. I was “in love” with Kelly in middle school and already trying to “leave and cleave” from my parents. I’m not ready for this as a parent! But I digress. The point is, my time with my kids is precious and I have to stop allowing so many other things to get in the way of being present with them.
When Oliver was two, we started a ritual at bedtime in which he would ask me why I loved him. I would always respond, “Why do you think I love you?” And that would start his list:
“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?”
Faking exasperation, he would cry out, “Why do you love me then?”
And then I would give the answer he knew was coming, sometimes he would even say it with me, “I love you just because you’re mine.”
I told this story last week at one of the Ash Wednesday services, and afterward I asked Oliver if we should start doing this again. He said “No dad. That would be weird.” And then after a few seconds of silence, he said “Hey dad, why do you love me?”
I’m thankful for Family Camp because I can get away with my kids and be reminded of why I love them. The same reason God loves me. Just because I’m His.
Family Camp is a great weekend for families to get away and have fun, learn about Jesus together, and enjoy each other. We're headed to camp March 18th-20th and we hope to see you there. Register here.
Zach Van Dyke is on the Teaching Team at Summit and will be performing as a boy-band member at this year's Family Camp. If you have any questions for Zach about his theatre background, best techniques for winning octoball, or just want to say "hey", you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.