What is Camp Gilgal and why should I send my child there?
Camp Gilgal was established by Jews for Jesus in 1991 to provide a unique opportunity for children of Jewish believers (even where only one parent is Jewish) to learn about their Messiah and heritage with other children with a similar background. Most children who attend Camp Gilgal have at least one parent who is a believer in Jesus, but many have few, if any, other relatives who are believers. We want to see how they fit into this picture. We also want them to come away knowing what it means to have a relationship with the Lord and to grow personally. Many parents have contacted us after camp to let us know how much they appreciated the positive changes which took place in their child's life. And several have even told us how the experience literally turned their child's life around for the better.
Why are you involved with Camp Gilgal?
I strongly believe in this type of ministry because of the important role camping has played in my life. I have wonderful memories of camping with my family while growing up and of camping trips I took while in Boy Scouts (my father was the leader of my troop). But even more important is the fact that I became a believer in Jesus while attending camp. I had a terrific camp counselor who was an excellent role model and who took the time to explain to me what it means to have a relationship with the Lord.
What about my child who has never been away from home or who won't know anyone at Camp Gilgal?
Most children attending Camp Gilgal for the first time haven't been away from home before and don't know the rest of the campers. Our experience has been that the children bond and adapt quickly (usually less than 30 minutes for even the most shy). In addition, these issues are generally of more concern to the parents than they are for the children. Strong friendships are often established at Camp Gilgal and carry over throughout the year. On the last day of camp tears are shed by some of the campers who don't want to leave their friends they didn't even know prior to camp. The campers also care for one another. One year a camper lost his pouch pack with a $20 bill in it on a field trip. We decided to take up an offering with a $1 limit per person and the amount of the offering came to exactly $20!
What if I can't afford to send my child(ren) to Camp Gilgal?
Finances have never kept any child from attending Camp Gilgal. We're willing to work with any family who wants to send their child(ren). A number of creative ways have made this possible: paying in installments, assistance from relatives and/or local congregation/fellowship, garage sales, children working to earn money for camp and partial scholarships for those in need. One year a mother registering her son for camp mentioned their family finances were very tight that year, but then said We can't afford not to send him back because of what Camp Gilgal did for him last year."
Will my child be safe at Camp Gilgal?
Obviously, no guarantees can be made, but our camp staff is safety conscious and we don't take chances. This is something that was instilled in me by my father. In Boy Scouts we took numerous backpacking trips (including one into the Grand Canyon) and we never had a serious injury. It also took my wife Kathleen and I eight years to have children (we now have two beautiful daughters). I know how precious children are and I treat the campers the way I would want my own daughters treated.
Will my child have fun at Camp Gilgal?
Though our primary purpose is for the children to grow spiritually and personally, if they haven't had a great time then we've failed. In fact, we strive to make Camp Gilgal so much fun that the campers can't wait to return. Activities are planned with the campers in mind, and it's not difficult for us to remember what we liked to do when we were their age.
What about my child's unique situation?
Here are some situations we've dealt with at Camp Gilgal: bed wetting, asthma, allergies and other medical conditions (including dietary restrictions), those who can't swim and some with learning disabilities. I can't say we can handle every situation, but don't dismiss the idea of sending your child to Camp Gilgal because of _____. Let's talk it over first.