Boys’ camps are like the crow’s nest on a four-masted schooner.
If a boy’s life could be compared to a Renaissance ship, the Church would be the rudder, giving him direction. His family would be the sails, driving him forward to success. His school and places of education would be the anchor, protecting him from drifting into moral danger. A boy doesn’t have to attend a Christian boys’ camp any more than a yacht needs crow’s nest to sail from Tahiti to the Falkland Islands. But it sure yields a beautiful and unique perspective
If parents have the opportunity, they should send their sons to a Christ-centered boys’ camp. Here are three reasons why.
1. God calls men to teach boys
Specifically, God calls men to teach boys informally. Deuteronomy 6:7 says parents should teach their children the Scriptures when they “walk by the way”. This means Dad and Mom should find way to instruct their kids at places besides the dinner table, church and bedtime prayers.
Girls are domestic by nature, meaning they gravitate to the home and kitchen. Moms train their daughters best while scooping out cake batter and hemming her finest dress. Boys are different. They are hunters, explorers, defenders. A boy learns better when there’s dirt beneath his fingernails. Moses’ phrase “in the way” is a reminder that fathers especially need to maximize the informal teaching moments they have with their sons.
Abraham taught Isaac while he carried bundles of firewood up the mountain (Gn. 22:8). Paul taught Timothy as they power-walked from one village to another (Ac. 16:4). Elijah taught the sons of the prophets along the Jordan River (2Ki. 2:7). In today’s world, didactic fathers should see their pickup truck as a classroom, their Weber grill as a lectern and their backyard as a chalkboard. Boys’ camps do this kind of thing well.
2. Masculinity is on the decline
But we all know skillful teachers like this are often absent. The boys aren’t absent. They’re still being born year after year, about a half-million annually in South Africa. About 60% of South African children grow up without their father at home, compared to the world average of 15%.That means about 300,000 boys every year are born into homes where their father is absent.
These boys will sit in the classroom of life, with car parts and garden rakes and rifle cartridges and soccer balls lying on the teacher’s desk, waiting for the professor that never shows. Instead, in comes the substitute teacher–Mom. She’s busy. She’s multi-tasking. She’s full of love. But despite what the world tells us, Super-Mom can’t do it all. She’s unable. For all of her glory, she’s the weaker vessel in ways her husband should be strongest.
Godly men at church have a great opportunity to step in the gap where the boy’s father should have been. For boys that don’t go to church, he’ll find a dozen men to do this kind of thing at a boys’ camp.
3. Cross-cultural competition is good
As a father of four sons, I’m shocked almost daily at how little my boys know. I think: “How can he not know you turn the screw to the left to loosen?” It’s because I’ve forgotten that I once didn’t know that. My father once had to teach me that and a thousands of other things.
I’m also shocked at how little they know their own ignorance. Big groups of boys tend to humble the boys that are too big for their britches and encourage those that are better at things than they thought.
A good Christian boys’ camp excels at bringing in young men with different skin colors and different home languages and teaching them how to work together as a team. Competition may mean Scripture memory. It may mean close-grip pushups. It may be Mess tent duties. It may be target practice.
The Apostle Paul loved to use athletic metaphors because, in part, he saw value in sports. Like war, young men learn some of their greatest lessons (perseverance, humility, self-denial, toughness) during sporting competitions. But Paul also used sporting illustrations to point people to Christ, which is the greatest purpose of boys’ camps.
A Practical Example
Finally, if you’re wondering where you can find a biblically-based Christian Boys’ Camp in South Africa, check out GYM Boys’ Camp in Limpopo and sign up your sons today.