SpringHill Blog

For The Kids: Partnering with donors and churches to bring SpringHill Day Camp to more kids through scholarships

Every summer SpringHill packs up water slides, climbing walls, and inflatable obstacle courses, and travels across the country to bring summer camp to ten different states.

Day Camp takes place in a variety of neighborhoods, with the goal of partnering with local churches to bring new families and kids into the church community, and to offer another ministry opportunity to currently attending families. SpringHill welcomes kids from all sorts of backgrounds and situations, and along with church partners, work to scholarship as many kids as possible.

Including all types of kids is part of what SpringHill strives to do as a ministry and organization."That's what the kingdom of God looks like," said Michael Perry, SpringHill President.

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5 reasons why you should work at SpringHill

Millenials and Gen Z-ers are looking for fulfilling work now more than ever. In fact, having fulfilling work is actually the second most important thing that these generations are looking for in a job*. As a millennial myself, I know this to be true. We have a desire for work that will impact the world, and our future, for the better. This is one of the main reasons I chose to work at SpringHill this summer.

What I didn't realize was that my summer was going to bring some unexpected challenges. About three weeks into my internship at SpringHill, my dad, who is suffering from cancer, decided to visit the US from Venezuela. I hadn't seen him in years, and I knew I had to spend time with him while he was here.

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5 things you didn't know about SpringHill overnight camp

Since starting our day camp program in 2006, we've had the opportunity to partner with churches and ministries, be a part of the community, and see thousands of kids grow in their faith.

But did you know that SpringHill started as an overnight camp? Yes, it's true – we started as an overnight camp 50 years ago and have had a long time to refine and perfect what that experience looks like.

Surprisingly enough, the results of our most recent parent survey showed that a vast majority of our day camp families didn't even know we had an overnight option!

Because of those results, we thought we'd share some of the differences between day camp and overnight camp, and why your kids will continue to love their week at SpringHill. Continue Reading

In the Kingdom of God we are known and found: 2019 TST theme

We are so excited about this summer in TST. Our theme is The Kingdom, and we will be talking about how in The Kingdom of God we are known and found. Through the stories Jesus told like the prodigal son and through the stories of people Jesus interacted with we will gain a better understanding of God's hope for the world.

We know that these days the world is a crazy place to be a teenager, every day is full of questions, what should I wear? Who are my friends? What is for lunch? Who can I trust? What kind of person do I want to be? Where do I want to go to college? It's a never-ending stream of thoughts and it's easy to get swept away in all the worrying.

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SpringHill Family Camp: Crazy...but in the best way

My husband and I did something kind of crazy. We went tent camping on Memorial Day weekend with our almost 3-year-old. And our 8-month-old. For a whole weekend. Sounds a little foolish, right?

Believe it or not, not only did we survive, but we had a perfect weekend thanks to SpringHill's Memorial Day Family Camp.

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A discovery project update

The Discovery Project is a gap year program where students get to explore and discover their strengths and gifting. During this pilot year, we've had the opportunity to work with four students and explore different spheres of culture and influence. We've toured medical facilities, marketing firms, volunteered at various non-profits, and lived in intentional community. This is an update about the project thus far.

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Finding 'brave' at SpringHill

Kalaysia came to Michigan Overnight this summer because of a scholarship fund. Her story of overcoming her fears and experiencing God's love during her week is exactly what the SpringHill experience is all about.

"I didn't end up in the same cabin as my friends, so I didn't know any of the girls in my cabin. For the first day, I was quiet and stayed to myself. But then we started doing 'get to know me'games and it was really fun. I started to come out of my shell a bit.

I've gotten to do a lot of new things here. I was really scared of riding a horse, but I wanted to face my fear. AndsoI just got on and it was actually really fun. We got to ride through the forest, and it was easy to control my horse and learn how to stop her. Another thing I tried was tubing. I had never been on a boat before, but it was so fun to go tubing, bouncing around with the water splashing everywhere.

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What's at the core of SpringHill?

A few weekends ago I found myself in a car with 5 people I had just met, on our way to SpringHill Michigan for 2-day staff training. I had never experienced SpringHill before. I never went there as a kid. It was my first time on staff. It was my first time experiencing anything SpringHill. I knew I was going to be staying in a cabin and that I'd be learning a lot, but I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into.

Staff training at SpringHill is the first time everyone is together – summer leaders, activities staff, administrators, directors, and interns like me. The weekend is the foundation of the training each summer leader will go through before kids come to experience SpringHill. I expected lots of seminars and talking, but what I didn't expect were dance parties or the level of excitement I witnessed, or the tight knit community that began to form so early on. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

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Adventurous Faith isn't comfortable

As followers of Jesus, we are sometimes called to do some crazy stuff. Like trusting in something we literally cannot see! Or maybe we are called to do some things we are very uncomfortable doing. Either way, Jesus has a habit of making sure His followers learn and grow to avoid becoming stagnant. This can be difficult because human beings can be inherently scared of new things.

While society today is geared toward keeping us comfortable where we are, Adventurous Faith calls us to something more than we currently are. To learn and grow is to be counter-cultural and that is not easy. I've heard it said that personal growth is humanity's greatest fear and strongest need. Strange isn't it? We need to learn and grow but we are so afraid of it! This kind of thinking and fear can lead to complacency. If you avoid growth, then you stay the same.

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What makes a SpringHill Experience special?

What makes a summer at SpringHill one of the most impactful experiences of your life? This is a question we are asked time and again by kids, families, and summer leaders and WE LOVE it! It's a chance for us to tell you the ways we've fallen in love with this place, and, more importantly, to tell you how the people that have had a SpringHill experience are impacted by Christ. Here are three things that come to mind… Continue Reading

How well do you know SpringHill?

Test your SpringHill knowledge with this quiz!

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Traveling with Day Camps: Host Home 101

One of the greatest parts of SpringHill Day Camps is the opportunity for travel. After training (if you're on a day camp team), you'll stay in a new place every week, which can be very exciting, but also a little nerve-racking. You'll start to hear the term "host home" and think to yourself, "How do I act? What do I do? I have to stay in a stranger's house? What is this place? Who am I? What's happening?" Okay, that may be a tad dramatic, but honestly, this is one aspect of SpringHill that you DO NOT need to freak out about.


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6 Odd Things You Might Say At SpringHill

Kids really do say the darnedest things, but a summer spent working at SpringHill will have you uttering some oddities as well. While SpringHill trains its staff effectively on how to share the gospel, how to talk to parents, and what exactly to say when communicating cabin rules, there are some conversations that no amount of training can cover. So, to try and prepare you for the unpredictable, here are ten statements you might be surprised to find yourself saying this summer.

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    Accepting the mission

    Hey Summer Leaders, we are super excited for you to join us this summer! There are roughly 1,200 other Summer Leaders who will be joining you this summer for an experience like no other. Every year we have a theme that runs throughout SpringHill, through games, skits, activities, and programming. This year's theme is Spy – so make sure you get all your secret agent, counter informant and CIA gear collected and loaded up. It is going to be fantastic!

    Like all good spy stories, being a Summer Leader at SpringHill requires a step of faith to accept the mission at hand. After all, spy stories are only good if the Spy chooses to do the hard or impossible thing. Taking that step of faith is the hard part, and it is not so much the risk in taking the step, it is the unknown after the step that concerns us the most. The unknown of what the summer is going to be like; Will I make new friends? Will I be able to handle working with kids? Will I be able to do my job? Will God show up?

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    Summer Leader Blogs: Emily's Story

    I had spent a long time trying to decide if returning to Springhill for a second summer was something I wanted to do, I prayed a lot about it and it seemed that every other opportunity ended back at Springhill. I was a lifeguard last year at Michigan Overnight and I knew I wanted to try a new position, so I figured that a middle school counselor would be something more challenging for me. When I arrived, I went to all the training sessions, which meant that camp was starting and everything was real, yet I had this weird feeling I wasn't going to be a counselor. I brushed it off because the feeling made no sense to me, what else would I be?

    A couple days into training, I was talking to Matt Hildebrand, a director at Springhill, and I told him that I was going into my senior year of nursing school. At the time I vowed that my summers were for fun and no nursing was allowed because 1. I am going to do it for the rest of my life and 2. My entire school year is devoted to countless hours of nursing and I needed a break.

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    Summer Leader Blogs: Colin's Story

    When I was 18, I graduated high school, and had my eyes set on becoming an engineer. I was certain that I wanted to help people by rebuilding crumbling infrastructure around the world. When I was a sophomore at Calvin College, I realized Civil Engineering was not for me. Honestly, I hated it. I switched majors to Social Work still with the consistent underlying desire to help others. I felt God pushing me somewhere and I had no idea where. Immediately after switching degrees, I saw a Facebook post from someone I would describe as barely an acquaintance saying SpringHill was a wonderful place, and people (I) should sign up to work there. Now, I had no idea this is what God wanted me to do. I wish I could say I did, but no, I just signed up because it looked like fun. God had other plans, God was at work to grow my faith and my character.

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    Summer Leader Blogs: Conner's Story

    Over the past five summers, I have served in a number of roles with SpringHill – as a Day Camps counselor, area director, assistant director, and site coordinator. I would say I've had an extensive and well-rounded SpringHill experience. In addition to working with kids in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, helping them to learn about their God and grow in their faith, I learned a lot about my own faith, my relationships with others, and my calling. Here are just a few of the more important lessons I've learned.

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    Summer Leader Blogs: Bailey's Story

    My first summer at Springhill was everything; I woke up each morning amazed that God had chosen me to work at a place where I got to share the love of Christ openly, worship every day, and provide a safe space for kids to come, ask questions, and begin to take ownership of their faith. It was an unbelievably beautiful, exhausting, joy-filled summer.

    Fast forward to a few months later and I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I felt called to come back to SpringHill - my spirit was so secure in where God wanted me and what He wanted me to be doing, but I was turned down for the job. Uncertainty rocked my world; why had God given me so much confidence in applying, if that wasn't where He wanted me? I decided to try to learn contentment. I accepted, after many tears and many hours of talking at God, that I must have misunderstood His plan for me. It was a season without clarity, and it was hard.

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    SpringHill through a kid's eyes


    I love spring hill because it forces you to socialize with people. We don't have our phones, so our only source of communication is the people that are in the same cabin as us. It's so refreshing to be able to have real conversations without worrying about looking through my Instagram feed or if the person I'm talking to has more followers than I do, because at SpringHill it doesn't matter.

    You have the chance to meet some amazing people at SpringHill who will become your best friends for that week. They have similar stories and are in similar places that you are with your faith. I've met one of my best friends there who I'm still constantly texting and Face Timing, and I will have the opportunity to see her again at camp this year.

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    SpringHill through a mom's eyes

    The young people that greeted us at the entrance were so full of energy I actually cried with joy and excitement for what my daughter was soon to experience. They spoke to both of my kids, made them feel like they were the focus of the day, and even my shy son got a little excited. The check in process was a well oiled machine, and my daughter waved with excitement as they swept her off on a fire truck while we followed behind in order to help her set up and say our goodbyes. I loved how they posted photos everyday so we could "check" on our daughter a bit, and I also loved that we could leave mail for her to open each day.We took a tour of the camp and my husband commented that he wished he could go to camp here and wondered if they ever needed volunteers. I went home and looked up information and soon signed both of us up to volunteer the following year. Continue Reading

    Being a Summer Leader: The most fun I’ve ever had

    As I head into week 7 at camp, I am starting to realize how quickly the summer has gone by. When I look back at my experience thus far, I can honestly say that this is the best summer I can remember. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have had the privilege of not only sharing the Gospel with kids, but I've grown as a leader and in my own relationship with Christ. There's also one other big reason that this has been the best summer – Camp is SO much fun!

    I know that's sort of a given. And yes, being a Summer Leader is work and it's tiring, but I can honestly say that I thank God for the fun he gives my campers and I every day. We get to zip line, ride horses, play paintball, blob, slide, run, dance, go crazy, and the list goes on. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill brings out the kid in me and has been an amazing break from the demands and distractions of the "real world." The campers I've had this summer have taught me how much fun it is to just be a kid.

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    Being a Summer Leader: Why work at SpringHill anyway?

    Every fall and spring semester, Purdue, along with many other universities, have career fairs full of businesses and corporations searching for college students to intern with them over the summer. Students want career experience and an internship is the most traditional way of obtaining that and the "most obvious" way to prepare for the workforce as soon as we graduate.

    I am a junior at Purdue with a major in marketing, so naturally I decided to work as a camp counselor at SpringHill... Before you call me crazy or tell me that I should have taken a more traditional route, there really are aspects of being a Summer Leader that will help me in my career field.

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    Being a Summer Leader: Attitude is everything

    We are a few weeks into camp, and it has been evident that God has shown up. It's been amazing to watch campers grow in their relationship with Christ right in front of my eyes, even though I only have them for a week. I've seen middle school guys learn the importance of worship, encouragement of others, and how to become closer to God each day without becoming stagnant in their faith. Every counselor I've talked to has a different incredible story of how one of their campers had a life changing experience where they could feel the Holy Spirit moving.

    One aspect of camp that has stood out to me so far is the importance of having a good attitude. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill is a satisfying, fun job, but I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't tough. The campground here at the Indiana location is fairly spread out, meaning we walk most everywhere we need to go. It's hot, we're all tired, and everyone is anxious to get to our next activity. But what I'm learning is that a positive attitude from just one camper or Leader can change everything.

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    Being a Summer Leader: Life changing experiences can be hard to come by

    Life changing experiences can be hard to come by. Personally, I've only had a few, and the thought of creating one for someone else seems like a daunting task. Here at SpringHill, I have the opportunity to go through a life changing experience for myself and have the privilege of helping campers do the same. I made the decision to give my summer to Jesus as I felt called to be a summer staff, or "summer leader" as we like to call it here. This summer I will be a camp counselor for 6th-9th grade boys at SpringHill. Continue Reading

    A letter to parents about SpringHill's top priority

    Dear Parents,

    As a father of four children, believe me when I say that I know parents have many priorities and goals for their kids. My wife Denise and I certainly do. But I also know as our kids grew up, there was only one priority that always made it to the top. – Their safety and wellbeing.

    As the leader of a growing organization I also understand that places like SpringHill have many priorities. Sometimes organizations do not always have clarity about which priority is actually the most important one, the one that comes before all others. But at SpringHill, like you as a parent, we (every one of our board members, staff and volunteers) are crystal clear about our top priority. We know and are committed to the one thing that supersedes them all.

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    How to raise Christian kids in a non-Christian world

    When it comes to raising your kids, mistakes will be made, victories will be celebrated, tears will be shed and laughter will be contagious. You take each moment as it comes and treasure the time spent with your little ones while they're still at home.

    But what happens when they venture out into a world that will throw temptations in their path with each step they take? A world that won't celebrate their steadfastness, but will instead try to test it?

    Bringing up your kids in a Christian environment means preparing them for a world that isn't so Christ-focused. But that's easier said than done, right? Just bringing your family to church each week doesn't ensure they will have the right foundation to make it in this world.

    So what does it take to prepare your kids through a solid, Christian foundation? Is it just about having family Bible time, or does it go deeper than that?

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    48 Hours to share your Power of Camp story!

    This video was recently released by the Christian Camp and Conference Association and it shows some of the challenges kids are faced with in today's world. Technology, peer pressure, self doubt, depression - All things that bog kids down and force them to grow up too quickly. At SpringHill, we believe in the Power of Camp and we believe that kids should have the chance to BE KIDS. To play, learn, grow, be mentored, poured into and recharged. To experience God in nature, community, activities, prayer and worship.

    We know lives have been changed and we know there are thousands of stories out there just waiting to be told. So share your story with us! Continue Reading

    Time Together: Finding Intentional Moments with your Children


    My oldest son is turning 16 this summer and the scariest part isn't that he'll start driving. The scary part is the reality that's slowly sinking in that in just two more years he will be headed off to college. Moving out. Becoming independent.

    When they're little, they seem to grow up fast: learning how to smile, then crawl, a few words, walking. But at this age, the new milestones just fly by. And the realization that they really won't be at home forever has me thinking about the time we do have a little differently.

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    WATCH what really happens at SpringHill Day Camp!

    Summer is so close we can taste it! Check out our latest Day Camp experience video to see what really happens during a week of faith, fun and friends at SpringHill!

    SpringHill | The Day Camp Experience from SpringHill Camps on Vimeo.

    Excited? Tell us why with a comment.

    Still need to register? Do that here.

    Want to share with a friend? Please do!

    Also check out our Overnight Experience video - It’s as great as this one!

    WATCH what really happens at SpringHill Overnight!

    As the 2015 summer season quickly approaches, we had to share our latest Overnight Camp Experience video with you.

    This is what your kids have to look forward to!

    SpringHill | The Overnight Camp Experience from SpringHill Camps on Vimeo.

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    Devotional: How is God’s Knowing Different From Mine?

    God's understanding has no limits! While we learn and grow, take some time to see if Tyler Osantowske's lessons have anything to do with what God wants to teach all of us. Continue Reading

    Being Batman: Strengthening spiritual muscles at Family Camp

    Kids love superheroes.

    They think of them as strong, confident and physically fit. And they tend to rank right up there with professional athletes, firefighters, and the president, when kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. In fact, a recent Cornell University study even showed that when kids associate healthy foods and behaviors with what a superhero would eat or do, their own behaviors change too! Yes, when kids associate healthy food with superheroes, they actually choose apples over French fries.

    And that's why I'm so excited about integrating our summer theme, Superheroes!, into each of our family camps this summer: we'll inspire kids of all ages to want to live differently because of the choices they see superheroes making, and the behaviors they see modeled by the people they look up to the most.

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    Summer 2015: What’s New at SpringHill?

    Get ready for an exciting new season that your camper won’t want to miss!

    This summer, SpringHill will welcome superheroes to the stage as our new theme kicks off for 2015! Our staff cannot wait to share the excitement of new facilities, new directors and new locations with your campers.

    Indiana Overnight

    After the recent hire of five full-time directors, the team at SpringHill’s Indiana Overnight location is gearing up for an exciting summer with new curriculum and programming for each camp center.

    With the addition of our new directors, our teams are focusing on training up leaders and multiplying followers for Christ. This focus, along with the new programs we are writing, enables our staff to pour into your campers in such a way that they will leave camp having a better understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

    Michigan Overnight

    As Winter Teen Retreats come to a close, the team at Michigan Overnight is prepping for a summer that includes multiple completed projects for our Storybrook and Copper Country camp centers.

    This summer, Copper Country campers will have a new waterfront that includes brand new party barge activities. Thanks to camper funds from our trading post, this was a fully-funded project!

    Copper Country isn’t the only place where campers will enjoy new facilities. This summer, Storybrook will open a transformed dining hall that will now serve as an air-conditioned, multi-purpose space with a full stage that includes audio and video equipment. This renovation will provide your campers with an improved programming experience!

    Day Camps

    Our Day Camps team is working around the clock to continue growing this ministry into one that can provide your campers with a life-impacting experience.

    Not only did we welcome five new directors to our Day Camps team, but we also will be hosting a new week of day camps in Iowa and Kentucky! Excitement continues to grow for our Day Camps teams as the number of church partners continually increases.

    With all the exciting changes and new staff now on board, get your camper ready for an awesome summer at SpringHill! Register Today!

    Blessings in Busyness

    How to overcome the distractions and turn your thoughts to God

    Returning to routine after the craziness of the New Year can make life feel normal again. However, schedules quickly fill with the kids’ sports games, church functions and enough work from the office to keep you busy all evening.

    Suddenly, you barely have time to catch your breath.

    Falling into a routine of busyness can leave you feeling stressed and pulled in a hundred different directions. When frustration and exhaustion take over during this season, how do you search for the blessings each day?

    Finding blessings in the midst of balancing everything on the schedule can almost feel like another task on the to do list. Today’s society screams instant gratification and throws guilt our way when we try to relax from work. It can feel as if the busyness of each day holds nothing but assignments to complete and no time to even think about anything else.

    Blessings, however, come in all different forms. Sometimes you don’t have to search for them, you just have to be willing to look in the right direction.

    • Find a moment to be still. Psalm 46:10 says to “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” When you make time to sit in the presence of the Lord, you exalt his name. You also set yourself up for a more relaxing day, no matter how busy.
    • Carry Scripture written on index cards. This provides you with a way to refresh your spirit when you’re on the go.
    • Keep a notepad with you, and whenever you feel thankful for something, write it down for yourself. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If you make a habit of writing down what you are thankful for, then finding blessings throughout your day will grow easier and easier.
    • Make time for fun. At SpringHill we work hard and play hard. We know that community together is important, and it takes time to share a meal, play a game or have an intentional conversation, but it’s essential. When you work hard, you have to play hard.

    God is always providing ways for you to feel refreshed. Don’t allow life to get so busy that you miss out on these blessings. The busyness we endure not only distracts us from our families, friends, church community and neighborhood, but it ultimately distracts us from our relationship with Jesus.

    Starting today, make it a point to find the blessings in your life. When stress takes over, step back, take a breath and turn your thoughts to Christ, the only one who can bring you through this season of busyness.

    How to Choose the Best Summer Experience for Your Child

    With school out for the summer, days easily fill with the pool, neighborhood sports tournaments and lazy afternoons in front of the TV. For the kids, this time simply means vacation. As a parent, this time holds more importance than simply time out of the classroom.

    Choosing a summer experience for your child isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You know the importance of making sure each day fills with the right balance of fun and challenge that will encourage growth during this season.

    What are my options?

    After sitting in classrooms all day during the school year, summer is the time for kids to drink in some sunshine. Thankfully, there are plenty of summer activities to choose from that help kids get their energy out in a constructive way.

    • Summer sports leagues prove an excellent option for your energetic child. Without the stress of school or the worry of homework, spending time with a team can be a way for your child to meet new friends and learn how to work together with others.
    • Academic programs can be a fun way for children to experience learning outside the classroom in a more hands-on environment.
    • Day camps offer a chance for your child to experience a camp atmosphere without the nerves that come with spending nights away from home.
    • Overnight camps are a great option if your child is ready to experience an adventure away from home.

    How do I choose?

    You know your child best. Finding the right activity that will help your child thrive this summer means thinking about what your child needs and what will provide the best experience. While there are options that last all summer, going to camp for a week could be the perfect choice for you.

    Summer camp provides a wonderful balance of activity, learning, fellowship and independence for campers. During a week at camp, kids experience life-changing lessons as they learn new skills and form bonds with other campers and their counselors.

    No matter the age, kids can face issues of confidence and identity at school. When they arrive at camp, the competition and need to impress disappears as the focus becomes new friends, fun activities and personal growth.

    At SpringHill , we train our staff to not only keep a safe environment for and have fun with your kids, but we also train up leaders who will guide campers into a deeper relationship with Christ. After a week at SpringHill , your camper will come home with a greater understanding of who Jesus is.

    What’s the first step?

    Don’t wait until school is out before you make your summer selection! Take time this week to talk with your child and decide what experience is the best choice. If that decision includes summer camp, check out your options at SpringHill. We offer partial weeks so even if your child is required to attend an academic program or is committed to a sport, your family can still experience SpringHill if only for a few days out of the week.

    Three Ways to Plan Your Summer Schedule

    With summer approaching faster than you can keep up with, thoughts of organization fly out the window as your calendar clutters with all possible appointments, play dates for the kids and vacations.

    Unfortunately, the excitement of summer gives way to stress as your schedule grows overwhelming. How do you keep up with the plans and the continually changing appointments and family schedules?

    Planning out your summer doesn’t need to feel stressful. If you stay ahead of the game with these tips, your schedule won’t appear as daunting to deal with.

    • Get organized. Take a few hours to figure out the important, set in stone appointments. If you know ahead of time which days you have birthdays or booked vacations, you will feel much more organized when filling in the rest of your calendar.
    • Use pencil (or technology). As your schedule takes shape with the important dates, write everything else in your calendar using pencil. That way, when life throws a curve ball and a plan changes, you can easily erase it from your schedule, keeping everything organized and neat. Make use of technology by setting up a synchronized calendar on your smartphone. Things are easily editable and shared with everyone.
    • Make time for family. Family comes before all other plans. Before the summer begins, sit down with everyone and discuss the family activities you want to do together. Whether it’s a weekend road trip to the beach or a family camp at SpringHill, make time for an opportunity that will provide your family with the chance to learn more about Christ and each other.

    You can’t plan for everything, but we hope that these simple tips will help you spend less time coordinating baseball games and swimming lessons, and more time spent with family and friends enjoying the summer season.

    Find out more about family camps and other opportunities for the whole crew this summer.

    Be Approachable

    This spring at our Memorial Day Family Camp, Jeffrey Dean mentioned two keys to great parenting: being approachable and being unshockable. As today’s guest blogger, Jeffrey takes a closer look at the need for approachable parents.

    Have you heard of the Guinea worm disease? The Guinea worm is one of the largest human parasites. People get infected when they drink or swim in parasite-filled waters and unknowingly ingest the larvae of Guinea worms. In about a year, the worms pierce the intestinal wall, grow to adulthood, and mate. The worms eventually mature to a length of as much as three feet. They make their way through the body to the surface of the skin causing swelling and burning blisters.

    Here’s where the problem intensifies: To soothe the burning, an infected person often runs to local water sources and immerses his or her infected limbs into the water for relief. Unfortunately this is exactly what the female (males die off inside the body) Guinea worm wants: access to water. Once in water, she lays hundreds of thousands of more eggs. And the cycle continues.

    In many ways this horrific process is one that is repeated over and again in the spiritual lives of teens everywhere. In their search for relief from life’s “diseases,” countless teens run to the infected waters of the world: drinking, drugs, cutting, sex, partying, binging, porn, and more. In the moment their choices may appear as soothing and innocent as the local waters appear to those infected by the Guinea worm. But below the surface lies a raging and burning consequence that will never satisfy and will only leave them desperate for more.

    I met a teen named Katie at a conference I spoke at. She sent me an e-mail detailing poor choice after poor choice in her life, each one compounding her troubles, but none of them bringing resolution. She finished, “What am I supposed to do? Help.” I wish I could say that Katie’s was an isolated story. She picked the wrong goal, then in an attempt to heal her hurts, she hastily jumped into other relationships, only to continue the same mistakes again and again. I hear from countless teens just like Katie from across the country. The specifics of their stories are different, but inside all are seeking help from the “diseases” of the world, and many are jumping into infected waters.

    As a parent who loves God, it’s important for you to guide your teen to real safety. I’m convinced that Christian teens are desperate to be taught how to stand for what is right. But many aren’t sure how to do so. They need help, and, often want our help as influencers in their lives. However, many feel as though a parent is unapproachable when it comes to the big struggles of the teen life.

    There is a war being waged daily for your teen’s soul, and the consequences can be deadly. But there is hope. Ephesians 6:10 encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The Bible gives us tools for suiting up in armor, taking up shields of faith, and holding firm the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Your teen needs you to suit-up for battle. Your teen can’t find alone.

    Work to create an environment in your home that screams to your teen, “I am approachable.” Strive to help your teen see that, unlike the infected waters of this world, you offer a safe place of help, hope wisdom and support that will never fail!

    Parents: What are some ways that you help your teenage kids see you as approachable?

    Is it safe?

    Contributed by Carey Edgren - Indiana Overnight Director

    As a parent, I find myself thinking a lot about the safety of my children. From baby-proofing the house with cabinet latches and plug covers, to choosing a safe and reliable car, and being aware of who they interact with at church and school and in the community.

    So, as Summer Camp gets ready to kick off this week in Indiana and at Day Camps locations across the Midwest, and next week in Michigan, I realized I’m also helping a lot of other parents think through the same issues of safety as they send their kids to summer camp.

    “What does SpringHill do to provide safety for campers?”

    The question of safety is very broad and can be broken into categories of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual safety, and we know that the safety of their children is often the number one concern for parents. The truth is, it is for us at SpringHill, too. We know that we cannot accomplish our mission if we are not first providing a safe environment for all kids.

    Here are some processes we have in place and how they address these areas:

    Our first line of defense is our extremely low camper to staff ratio. Typically, for every 2 or 3 campers there is one staff member on site. This allows us to demand of our staff that no camper is ever left alone. I contrast this with my experience as a camper at a camp in New York where there was 3 hours a day when we were “free” to do as we wished. During those three hours we saw no staff members, and our counselor did not even stay in the same cabin at night with us. By lowering our ratios and increasing our expectations we instantly lower our campers’ risk in all areas.

    We address the area of physical safety with a multi-tiered approach. On the ground level, all of our staff is trained in basic first aid and illness awareness. They are able to respond to minor issues as well as spot potential sicknesses that campers tend to hide. In addition, all leadership staff are trained and certified by the Red Cross or American Heart Association in First Aid and CPR. This means that about a quarter of staff have this training and are always spread out around camp. Finally, our Health Services staff are top notch college students majoring in health sciences (most seeking nursing degrees) as well as volunteer Registered Nurses and physicians, and an on-call doctor who also makes regular visits to camp.

    Because of the nature of camp, the environment and activities present some inherent risk, however, we take a number of steps to reduce the risk and keep kids safe. Our High Adventure activities are all inspected annually at the opening of the season to ensure they are safe for usage by an outside authority,Experiential Systems Inc. Our trained staff also inspect all of the activities and equipment we use on a daily basis. All activities that are done on or in the water require a lifejacket, and our lifeguards are fully trained and certified by the Red Cross. There are many rigorous standards we must meet in order to have Red Cross lifeguards, ESI Certified High Adventure areas as well as to maintain accreditation by the American Camping Association. If you would like more information about these standards please check out the ACA’s website.

    Obviously this is just a snapshot of a much larger, and more intricate system with which we strive to ensure the safety of every camper. We are constantly looking to improve and grow in all areas of our camp, however this area receives consistent attention. We truly view the safety of campers as part of our mission and imperative in being able to present the message of Christ.

    How to Raise Great Kids

    Contributed by Eileen Zilch - Director of IT

    It is possible to raise great kids—they are the result of the intentional parenting focused on instilling mature character.

    You have likely met someone with a “character flaw,” where one or more aspects of character were not learned in childhood and have become a burden to them in adulthood. But it is possible to raise great kids—they are the result of the intentional parenting focused on instilling mature character.

    In their book, Raising Great Kids, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend identify six key character traits which produce mature character and enable kids to deal with life as God designed them to.

    Each of these traits is an attribute of God’s character, and while this list isn’t exhaustive, it is certainly representative of the kind of character development that is important for children. As parents, we need to be intentional about developing character in our children, and at SpringHill, our goal is to come along side parents in helping to develop Godly character in kids. The first two aspects of character are described below.

    God attaches and loves (John 3:16).

    The most basic and important character ability is the ability to form relationships. Attachment to God and to others is the source of all good things. When your child falls down and skins her knee, your comfort helps her to experience and learn the value of reaching out.

    Kids who are emotionally connected in healthy ways are more secure. They delay gratification. They respond to discipline. They deal with failure. They make good moral decisions. You cannot lose by developing your child’s ability to attach and relate.

    At SpringHill, we develop relationships in the context of small cabin groups or teams. Counselors are role models and friends for their campers, encouraging them to form relationships with each other and to seek or deepen a personal relationship with the Lord.

    God takes responsible ownership of His life (Psalm 64:9).

    Your child is born thinking his life is your problem. During the beginning of life, this is true. But part of growing character is helping him take ownership over his life and seeing his life as his problem. As he takes responsibility over his choices, he gradually experiences freedom and self-control.

    The primary function of responsibility is to put love into action. We were created to develop love by performing the good works that God prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). Relationship is the reason for existence. Responsibility is the means to bring about and protect relationship.

    At camp, kids have the opportunity to learn about responsibility and “experiment” with freedom in a safe and caring environment. For some kids, it is heady stuff to be in a place where Mom and Dad don’t set the rules. With counselors to ensure their physical and emotional safety, they can explore what it means to have fun and be responsible at the same time.

    Changing the Ministry Name to SpringHill

    At SpringHill, over the last 15 years, one of the subtle but significant changes we've seen is that the people we serve (kids, families, ministry partners, donors, and staff) do not see SpringHill as a place, they see SpringHill as an experience. This is good news because it aligns with SpringHill's stated mission - to glorify God by creating life-changing, SpringHill experiences where young people can come to know Jesus Christ and grow in their relationship with Him. Continue Reading

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