Christian-Centric Summer Camps: Jesus Camp

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Church goers hear stories about how one person or another “came round to the Lord” following some dramatic event or another. Others convert to Christianity in less dramatic ways. Evangelical churches have hosted summer camps for years with the main goal of converting children to Christ. In recent years, Christian-centric summer camps have been the subject of some scrutiny following the documentary Jesus Camp. In the documentary, the camp was portrayed in a negative light. The documentary framed the camp as a cult-like organization determined to convert children to their extreme views. However having attended such camps, the atmosphere of Christian-centric summer camps are nowhere near as intense as the film portrays. Yes, there is a strong,…show more content…
Evangelical camps are primarily run by parents and elder members of the church. Evangelical parents are willing send their children off to these camps in hopes of properly raising their children in Christ (Jones 640). However, as seen in the documentary Jesus Camp, these facilities are quite aggressive in nature. They are not malicious in nature, as they do not seek to harm anyone but rather to save the children; however they aggressively try to convert children to the lord. Jesus Camp documents the lives of three children as they attend a summer camp for Christ. The film shows how religion-centric summer camps impact the lives of their attendees. By attending religion-centric summer camps children are exposed to events that will have lasting impacts socially, morally, and within their…show more content…
By attending these camps, children learn how to interact with each other in the context of a religious setting. They learn how to view themselves and others in the sphere of religiosity, or the amount of dedication they have to their religion. In her dissertation, Peavey explains that children base their own self-image on how they view Jesus (1). By basing their self-image on their relationship with Jesus, the children begin to establish religion as ways to define themselves. Children begin to base their self-image on their religiosity. Not only do they equate their own religiosity with their self-worth, they also begin to equate the worth of other children in terms of religiosity. Children who attend religion-centric summer camps begin to view non-religious children in a negative light. In Jesus Camp, they show this mentality in one scene where a child confesses at the altar that he has had some difficulties with his faith at home. He is then met with scorn by his peers. This increase of valuing religiosity amongst the members in the camp sets a sort of stigma on those who struggle to be as devout in their religion. As the camp members in the film go throughout their journeys, they grow further attached to their faith. This attachment is what leads them to scorn the boy who wasn’t as devout as they were. As they develop these deeply rooted attachments to their belief system, they

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