The SpringHill Way

June 6, 2019

Spring into Summer
Spring Hill Camp has taken over Elmhurst CRC this week and next, bringing boundless youthful and spiritual energy to our campus. Kara Hackert is our church’s point person to make this amazing experience happen. Kara has been an outstanding member of the ECRC staff for 10(?) years and has been recently promoted to the position of “Director of Children’s and Family Ministries.” What does that mean? It means that in the coming year families will have more opportunities to serve together and grow together. It also means that we’ll be able to offer parents more training and guidance to skillfully embrace the high calling of raising kids to walk in Jesus’ way. And… it means that Kara is going to write the rest of the blog this week! Please congratulate and encourage Kara next time you cross paths with her. - Pastor Gregg

The SpringHill Way
From where I stand I hear energetic voices singing camp songs, I smell the coconuty smell of sunscreen, and I see kids with big smiles on their faces skipping and running to get outside and play. SpringHill day camp is back! We welcome 240 campers (480 total), 50 SpringHill counselors, and a large number of ECRC and community volunteers this week and next to participate in this amazing ministry.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a part of the parent meeting and tour. I listened to two knowledgeable SpringHill leaders explain the “SpringHill Way” to parents. I’d like to share what this is with you.

The mission of SpringHill is “to glorify God by creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know Jesus Christ and to grow in their relationship with him.” They have six ingredients in the “SpringHill Way” that allows them to do this.

God Immersed
Everything that happens at SpringHill Camp is God immersed. The counselors and counselors in training all begin their day with a time of Bible study and prayer together. This sets the focus for the day. The campers hear about God all day long during large group skits and worship, small group Bible study, and activity debriefing. The SpringHill staff keeps God in the center of every teachable moment. Their goal is that campers can take what they learned home and have God at the center of their lives.

SpringHill knows that every child is created in the image of God. They welcome every child regardless of where they are spiritually, physically, emotionally, or socioeconomically. Their goal is to not only make is possible for every child to participate in the variety of activities, but that they are celebrated for doing it. SpringHill strives to inspire relationships that help campers and counselors encourage and support each other. Team-building activities, times of small-group discussion, and having fun together all foster a strong sense of community. Campers and counselors cheer each other on, chanting names and clapping and celebrating each other for every level of accomplishment.

Activities, curriculum, even parent communication is constantly being worked on, changed, and improved. Two new innovations this year are the Camper Adventure Guide and Activity Hub. The interactive Adventure Guide helps parents to know what their children did and learned at camp that day. It provides daily table-talk questions as a way for parents and kids to connect and discuss what they heard. For the Activity Hub, all of the outdoor activities are in the east parking lot this year. This improves safety, but is also allows for a common area to have some simple activities that the campers can participate in while they wait for their turn on the climbing wall, rope ladder, and water slides.

This year we are blessed to have Dani as our SpringHill administrator. I asked her to describe the integration of faith and fun. Here are her words: “Reaching kids with the message of Jesus and keeping them engaged during their time with us is a part of who we are. We try to provide kids with experiences that they wouldn’t typically have in their backyard. At SpringHill, we integrate faith and fun. This means that when we bring kids over to an activity such as the climbing wall, they have a chance to climb, to be cheered on by their teammates and to sit down in a circle and debrief the experience. You can imagine that kids learn great truths from trusting in an unseen belay system, from taking one step at a time, and from trusting the voice of their counselor with where to step next.”

During the summer SpringHill Camps hires around 1,200 Christ-following staff members. A number of counselors come up through the middle and high school counselor in training program. At our location, there are a lot of familiar faces this year as 80% are returning staff. The counselors participate in a two-week training period before camp starts. This training is so much more than just learning camp songs and games. They build relationships with each other, strengthen their “family” of counselors, and spend time in prayer for future campers. They come to camp on fire and ready to share the love of Jesus with our campers.

Community Focused
SpringHill welcomes campers with a variety of backgrounds to come and experience the love of Jesus. Here at ECRC we see a large number of children from our church. But, with 500 campers coming through our door we are able to allow for around 2/3rds of the group to be from the community. This is amazing outreach. SpringHill partners with the local church to invite in the community and therefore help the church to flourish.

I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing ministry!

Kara Hackert
Director of Children and Families

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