Dear Summer Camp Girl

From the Team: We love summer! We especially love summer camp! We hope you have plans to retreat this summer to study God’s Word (and hurl some water balloons). But since we want you to love and serve Jesus with your whole heart 365 days a year, we pulled this post from our archives. Before you roll up your sleeping bag and pack the bug spray, check out this post.

Dear Summer Camp Girl,

Right now you’re in summer camp mode. You’re either getting ready to go to camp, at camp, or just returning from camp. And that means you’ve changed a few things.

  • Your church friends are your very best friends right now. You can’t imagine life without them.
  • You’re reading your Bible a lot these days.
  • You want to do really big things for God.
  • If you’re not in a relationship, the guys you are interested in right now are summer camp boys. You really want a guy who loves Jesus.
  • If you are in a relationship, you are focused on Jesus together. You’ve been praying together more often. You’re hyper-aware of God’s call to purity.
  • You love that he loves Jesus.
  • You’re happy. You’re not stressed-out about your grades or making first chair in band. You seem . . . free.
  • You probably have a pretty great tan, too!

I like these changes, but here’s the deal: I’m you, the rest of the year. I’m the version of you who isn’t at church camp or coming down from the spiritual high you get there. And I see some big differences between you and me. Let me break it down.

Summer Camp Girl chooses wise friends; Rest of the Year Girl, not so much.

Right now you’re surrounded by other people who love Jesus, and that makes it easier for you to:

  • Say “no” to sin.
  • Pursue holiness.
  • Reject the culture.
  • Be passionate about your faith.

I guess that shouldn’t surprise us; the Bible tells us that the people we hang out with impact how we live.

Proverbs 27:17 says it this way: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Your Christian friends are sharpening your character, sharpening your focus, and sharpening your passion. You are doing the same for them. So why is it that you gravitate toward unwise friends the rest of the year?

Proverbs 13:20 is a promise you can take to the bank:

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

If you’ve found wise, Jesus-loving friends this summer, keep them close.

Don’t ditch your summer camp friends once school starts. Don’t convince yourself you don’t need your youth group once life returns to normal. If you’ve found wise, Jesus-loving friends this summer, keep them close. They will help you to grow in wisdom and sharpen you into a more effective tool for God’s kingdom.

Summer Camp Girl reads her Bible often; Rest of the Year Girl reads Facebook often.

Have you noticed how much the Bible changes you at camp? Have you noticed how God’s words seem to jump off the page? That’s not happening because of the change of scenery. God’s Word hasn’t moved. You have.

At church camp everyone manages to find the time to read their Bibles and pray. Then real life returns, and in the same twenty-four-hour period we just can’t seem to squeeze any Bible study in.

Make the Bible a priority year-round, not just at camp.

If you want to continue to feel the intimacy with Christ you experienced at camp and keep growing to be more like Him, you will need to make the Bible a priority year-round, not just at camp.

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4).

Summer Camp Girl wants to do B-I-G things for God; Rest of the Year Girl is caught up in the little stuff.

Just this week, you walked an aisle and committed to go onto the foreign mission field or you said you felt called to marry a pastor or you gave sacrificially to a missionary in a faraway country. But I’m Rest of the Year Girl, and I know for a fact that’s not how things work for us most of the year.

Soon enough you will be too caught up in school to think much about missionaries overseas. You start planning a future based mostly on what you want, not mostly what God wants. You will remember that living a counter-cultural life comes at a cost, and that cost isn’t always fun. But I wish I could be more like you. I really, really love it when you dream big for the kingdom. I love how it feels when we think of something beyond ourselves. It makes me excited to think about what might happen if we did big things for God all year-round.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).

Why do we have to leave the big stuff at church camp? Since God gives us strength for all things, I vote we do big things for Him year-round!

Summer Camp Girl only dates Christians; Rest of the Year Girl convinces herself that “good guys” are good enough.

I just love the guys you pick at church camp. Sure, they may not be the most popular guys, but they love Jesus, and they’re fun to be around. They respect your purity. They want a relationship with Jesus at the center.

But usually summer camp romances simply don’t last. The rest of the year, I tend to pick guys who don’t love Jesus. I convince myself that they are “good guys,” and that is good enough. But it isn’t. Dating a guy who doesn’t love Jesus feels a lot like dragging a thousand-pound weight through the mud. I guess that’s why God offers us this advice:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14).

I know that not every guy at church camp loves Jesus and lives like He calls them to, but some of them do, right? That’s proof that there are solid, Christian guys out there. We don’t have to settle! Let’s make a pact that we will only date guys like the ones we find at church camp. Deal?

Summer Camp Girl has joy and peace; Rest of the Year Girl has stress and anxiety.

I know the most important thing you have to worry about at church camp is how to win the dodgeball tournament, but I like how free you seem. Did you know that God says we can have joy and freedom every day even when life is stressful? It’s true!

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1).

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).

I really like you, Summer Camp Girl. You show me what it’s like to live a life centered on God. As you unpack your bags and stow your suitcase until next year, let me encourage you to ask yourself a few questions to keep your eyes on Jesus.

  • What changes do you need to make to focus more on Jesus throughout the year?
  • Who most encourages you to live a life sold out for Jesus? How can you build in more time with that person?
  • Do you think it’s possible to live like Summer Camp Girl all the time? Why or why not?

I can’t wait to hear back from you.

A fan,

Rest of the Year Girl

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • Blythe Hep

    Thank u! I am really looking forward to camp & being encouraged by positive christian influence around me, its something I struggle with at school. I’m the only Christian in my friend circle & I only know of 1 other girl who is a christian. This post has challenged me to go big for God like He did for me & to not give up after camp. Thank u!!

  • What a great post -and it’s so true!! It’s hard to stay focused when you come home from camp and get back to “real life.” Thank you for the reminder that it’s possible to continue on as a “camp girl.”

  • Angela

    I really enjoyed this post! I think that I stress way too much and it’s difficult for me to have peace. I stress about things even when I’m on summer break or vacation. I need to always remind myself that I must trust God with all areas of my life. I also need to learn how to have peace even during trials. Do you have any bible verses about having peace that you recommend me reading?

    • Leah

      These verses from Philippians 4 are always my favorite when I’m stressing, especially because they talk about the peace of God so much:
      4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

      8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

    • I love the verses that Leah gave you! I would also recommend Matthew 6:25-34. It’s a passage about worry – but isn’t stressing another word for worry? You might even consider memorizing that passage as well as Philippians 4:4-8. And then I love Isaiah 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

    • Olivia W.

      I’m also someone who gets really stressed a lot. Yesterday I was reading Exodus 13 and God used those verses to really speak to me. In verses 16-18, it tells how God purposelly led the Israelites by a different way so that they wouldn’t have to fight the Philistines, because he knew that they were fearful. What I learned from that is how God sympathizes with our weakness. Sometimes, he chooses to lead us along an easier path until we are ready to tackle more challenges. Other times, he gives us things that are hard for us to get through, but he holds our hand every step of the way. When he pushes me to do things that are hard, it helps me to overcome my struggles and let his power shine through my weakness.

    • Olivia W.

      Ohhh, I guess this is an archive post. I didn’t realize you commented that a year ago XD

  • Leah

    Perfect timing! I just got back from a mission trip, and it’s so hard to go back to normal life. Life on the mission field just seems so much more real. Everything is centered on God. It’s easier to be bold. And you have a whole team of believers behind you, to learn and play and laugh and cry with you as you fight the good fight. I go to a public school and there aren’t very many steady Christian girls there. The thing is, I have a huge youth group and most of us go to public school, one of the private schools in town, or are halfway homeschooled while going to either of the aforementioned schools. Because we’re so big, it’s easy to segregate based on schools and I happen to be the only person in my grade that goes to the second of two public schools. The kids at my church are great, but they can accidentally leave me out, especially because I am one of the few introverted people there and I don’t go to school with 95% of them. It leaves me with a very shallow Christian support system during the year, and it makes it that much harder to come back from a mission trip, where there’s fewer if us and I’m 100x more included. Anyone have any advice? Prayers would be amazing.
    <3 your sister in Christ, Leah

    • I encourage you to begin to be the one to reach out to others. Even though you are shy, you’ve seen on your mission trip what a blessing being connected to other believers was. So bring that reality back to your youth group and your school. Even though there may not seem to be strong Christian girls at your school in your grade, reach out to those who aren’t in your grade. Search out a lonely girl and be her friend. Your public school is your mission field now.

      And if your mission trip was with your youth group, reach out and stay connected to those who were on the trip with you. Ask them how you can be praying for them; how they are doing since being back from the trip. And talk to your youth leader about ways to connect the groups and avoid cliques based on schools. I know that is a battle in youth groups across the country. I’m sure your leader would love to have your help in bridging those gaps. I’m praying for you Leah! God has a way through this – a way that will be for your good and for His glory.

  • Isabella Jo

    My church is getting ready for camp also. This post is so true.. in a bittersweet sort of way. I love how awesome summers are for all these reasons but when the rest of the year comes around, I desire the same devotion I had during the summer. It is crazy how much harder it is to remain so close to Christ during the school year. I’m homeschooled so my only friends are really from church but I used to go to public. It was hard then and believe it or not, it’s still hard. Even being on my own for school, I still get distracted with wordly things going on.

  • Kristin

    The verse you shared about dating 2 Cor. 6:14 sounds like it is encouraging you to only be around christians. I’ve always wanted to go to a christian school and I think this verse supports this but, my Dad (my Mom agrees) does not seem to agree with me. I’ve been praying for over a year. Can I have some advice? Have a blessed day everyone!

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      You are on the right track in continuing to pray as you honor your Dad’s decision regarding a Christian school, Kristin. The Lord is more than able to turn your Dad’s heart if that is His best for you. Proverbs 21:1 says the kings heart is in the hand of the Lord and He turns it like rivers of water. You can trust your God to work through your Mom and Dad.

      In context 2 Corinthians 6:14 is actually talking about being unequally yoked – as Erin
      mentioned, being in a dating relationship, or marriage, or even business partnership with one who is not a follower of Christ.

      As followers of Jesus we want to be “salt and light”, we want to interact with those who are unbelievers. How else will they know the love of Jesus for them and the hope of
      His salvation?

      I’m praying tonight the Lord will use you mightily for His Kingdom purposes in the school where He places you in the fall.

      Grace and peace,

      • Kristin

        Thank you so much for your advice! I will take what you said to heart.

        In Him,

  • Jordan

    Move this post because it actually makes me excited for the school year!i don’t want it to start already- but I always feel like summer is the only time I can truly be myself and have less anxiety and focus on God more. But now I’m looking forward to getting to do and feel even the cool summer things the rest of the year. Thank you!

    • Jordan

      Meant to say I love this post!! Not “move this post”‘lol!

  • .

    I’ve just given up already. There’s no point. You always fail in the end.

    • Please don’t give up, my friend. God is there for you. He loves you and wants you to rely on Him for your strength to meet each day. We all fail Him. And He loves us in spite of that (Rom. 5:8). I’m praying for you this day. Will you talk to someone about how you are feeling – maybe your mom or an older godly woman you know? They can pray with you and support/encourage you through this difficult time. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of need.” Psalm 46:1.

  • phoebe

    during school i feel like all the school work and everything gets to me

  • Little Csaszar

    Great post I don’t think in could describe me more after coming back from a youth retreat.

  • Sarah J.

    my parents won’t allow me to go to youth camps. I guess you could call me sheltered… Anyways- you posted something a while back about “My Parents Dating Rules Stink” I believe… Well I agree with my parents dating rules, but what about over-protective rules??

    • Amber

      Don’t worry. Your parents probably have a very good reason of why they don’t want you to go. My parents don’t approve of youth camps because even though they might be a christian camp, it doesn’t matter because their is always someone there, and with how the world is now, a lot of people who in secret do terrible things.

      • Sarah J

        Thanks 🙂 this is true! It’s nice to have someone who understands! I will trust God. I know my parents have my best interest in mind! Thank you again for encouraging me.

    • Cristi

      Hi, Sarah,

      Thank you for your comment! It’s such a great question, and I believe there are other girls who probably wonder the same thing. Can I encourage you to check out this post by Erin Davis? In it she explains God’s wise plan for responding to authorities in our lives, even when we don’t understand or even agree with their decisions.

      You’re right! It sounds like your parents are concerned for you and want what’s best for you, so keep trusting the Lord to use them for good in your life. You are on the right track, my friend!

      Praying for you now! 🙂

      Cristi (Revive Our Hearts)

    • DrJimMBrown

      Some parents go to camp with their children. Maybe you can find a family camp.

  • Amber

    I liked this post but I think you also need to aware that even though you go to church camp and guys go there, it still doesn’t mean anything if your heart is not right with the Father. I know some people who have gone to camp and acted like this great christian and dated a great guy they thought was a christian because he went to camp. But when she got back, she went back to her old ways and the guy she was dating was anything but the nice christian guy she met at camp. I just think that you should be careful before you make a choice that could, in the end, only bring you more pain all the rest of the year.

    • Sydney Miranda Petersen

      This is a good point, especially since summer camp is too short to know if he is a tried and true solid Christian guy. We can take mental notes about what characteristics we like about certain guys for future reference, but unless it’s a God-spoken miracle, I don’t think we should date at summer camp.

  • I have struggled with the spiritual highs of summer camp..that feeling of complete freedom because all the school/home distractions are not taking up my time and Jesus becomes my full focus.I don’t struggle very much anymore though. I’ve become so much closer with Christ in this past year. I’ll be sharing this post with younger girls in my church!

  • Tiana

    I love this post! I’m leaving for summer camp next week, so this is perfect timing! Thank you!

  • Ryely

    I am not going to summer camp but we are doing a camping summer camp with the bible and the book “this changes everything” can’t wait starts next week !!

  • Hannah B

    This article made me look at the “summer camp high” in a whole new way! I will definitely be revisiting these points when my school year starts in order to see where my relationship with God is.

  • Brittany

    Never been to summer camp :/ 17 years of 🙁 none.

    • I can see how disappointed you are in not being able to go to camp. You are not alone! The God who is at camp is the same God who is with you this very moment. Focus on deepening your relationship with Him through reading the Bible, praying and finding ways to minister to others (reaching out in the name of Jesus. I’m praying and asking God to give you all kinds of ideas to put into practice instead of dwelling in your unfulfilled longings.

    • DrJimMBrown

      Even adults can go to summer camp.