Planting Seeds at UGM Camp

Posted by Laura Brown on November 19, 2023
Planting Seeds at UGM Camp
Photography by Seth Weber

Imagine never having stepped foot in a church, never hearing Jesus’ name spoken in your home, never opening a Bible and reading the Word of God. For some of us, that can be a difficult idea to wrap our brain around.

For many children in our fair city, that is their reality. Thankfully, Faith Bible Church’s partnership with UGM Camp provides the perfect opportuni­ty to share the Gospel with their young hearts.

UGM Camp includes a challenge course that helps kids practice trust and teamwork.

UGM Camp is an outreach ministry about an hour west of Spokane where different churches throughout the region participate. Each church has its members volunteer to put on a week of camp during the sum­mer. Many of the third- through fifth-grade campers come from lower socioeconomic back­grounds and have never been to church or have very little exposure to it.

Camp provides a unique opportunity for unchurched kids to enjoy all the fun camp­ing activities (like sleeping in a bunk bed in a cabin!) while also hearing the gospel. This sum­mer, a team of Faith volunteers hosted more than 40 kids for a week at camp.

A different environment

Revelation 14:6 says, “Then I saw another angel flying di­rectly overhead with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”

On July 17-21, the Gospel was proclaimed at UGM Camp by taking kids from the city, plopping them in nature and surrounding them with believ­ers. Throw in some archery, fishing, and canoeing, all while being surrounded by God’s creation, and it sounds like the perfect antidote for what ails the souls of today’s children.

Amber Fox has been serving at UGM camp for seven years, this year as a cabin leader and doing crafts. She has personally witnessed its impact on unchurched children.

Amber Fox goes over memory verse hand motions with her group of girls after the morning lesson.

“I think putting these kids in a different environment really helps see a different world. Being able to see God’s creation, and seeing people that live differently, as opposed to being on TV all the time or on their cell phones, gives them a different perspective and takes them out of their comfort zone. And I think that just really helps give us the opportunity to be able to share the gospel with them.”

Cabin leader Todd Clark has served at UGM camp for four years. As a public school teacher, he’s noticed kids don’t play outside much anymore. But at camp they are outside for several hours a day, exert­ing themselves while playing organized games and partici­pating in activities like archery, swimming in the river, fishing, etc.

"As they learn about God and they spend time in nature... they can really connect those two things,” Todd Clark

“They really have an opportunity to be thankful, as they learn about God and they spend time in nature, that they can really connect those two things,” Todd says.

Nathan Thiry, Faith’s outreach pastor who leads the volunteers, says it’s also an opportunity to show the kids a Christian community for a few days: “Just being able to have a bunch of Christians living together, loving them, showing the unity of Christ through how we love each other.”

The One who gives hope

Many of the children walk into camp understanding almost nothing about God’s salvation, redemption, mercy or forgiveness. Some think just being a good person is enough to gain entrance to eternity in heaven. While there, they are told the truth of the Gospel: We are all sinners and can only be redeemed through Christ. As it says in John 14:6, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Understanding that we are actually all sinners and cannot be saved by good works can be a tough pill for some of them to swallow. Todd explained the key is helping campers to understand we are all sinners and we all need Jesus. When a leader shares that we are all in the same boat, that can have a profound impact.

“After we talked about sin, and the fact that people, all of us are sinners, I shared with a young man about how I used to feel hopeless, because my burden of guilt was so big that I felt hopeless. And he started crying and sobbing, and he felt hopeless too. But we were able to share the fact that that’s a good place to be to feel hope­less about our sin, because then we can turn to the One who gives us hope.”

Amber was also able to share her own need of Christ at camp. “A lot of times the kids immediately say, ‘Well, I’m a good person.’ And we have to show them that we are all sinners. And when we start to tell the children about our ex­periences, or our lives, or how God has worked in our lives, then they realize that we’re not put on a different level than they are, that we all are sinners, and that it’s through Christ that we are saved. And that starts to break down a lot of their walls.”

Trusting God for growth

Planting the seeds of the Gospel so the kids understand there is hope and redemption in Jesus is essential to reaching them. That is accomplished throughout the five days they spend at camp through memorizing Bible vers­es, singing Christian songs and preaching all while reveling in God’s creation.

Most of the volunteers agree they may not get to see the fruits of their labor.

Steve Bland is a regular volunteer and speaker at UGM Camp. “We get to do some planting,” he said. “We’re unsure about how deep that soil is. They might get planted pretty deep but not sprout for a long time. Who knows? Maybe it might sprout right away. But we just appreciate what God is going to do through us and that seed that we’ve been able to plant in the future for these young guns.”

As it says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”

The volunteers work hard to plant the seeds of the Gospel throughout the five days of camp by establishing personal relationships with the camp­ers; sharing their personal testimony; providing sound, biblical preaching; and having faith that God will help it take root and grow in the campers’ hearts.

Laura Brown

Laura serves in Children's Ministry at Faith Bible Church and is a regular contributor to Faith publications.

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