Part of living on the road means spending long days in the truck. After a variety of attempts to entertain ourselves have failed, we typically end up digging into the details of our project (again). I’ve unofficially dubbed Camp to Camp as a “living” project that is developing as we go along. As we see and learn new things every day, it’s been nearly impossible to not reinvent what we are doing five or six times. We consider this a good thing.
One element of the project that we have been hashing out lately is the concept behind #makecampmainstream. We liked this tagline from the very beginning. It’s catchy. It sounds good. And at the heart of it, it’s something that Sam and I both yearn for in the world. It hadn’t really occurred to us before that it might not make sense to everyone.
Mainstream is one of those words; everyone knows it, but maybe doesn’t know exactly what it means. It also can tend to have a negative connotation in Christian circles. “We don’t want to be like the rest of the world. Christianity isn’t mainstream.” I questioned whether mainstream was really our hope for camping ministry. The more we went back and forth on word choice, the more I truly came to understand where we want to see camp go.
To be mainstream is to be a part of the dominant trend. To be a household name. To be normal. We use the phrase “camp people” as an industry joke, setting apart those who understand the ridiculousness that is the camp experience. It gently implies that camp and those who experience it are, simply, not normal. This is true, of course, but I think it also means we have work to do.
#makecampmainstream isn’t about changing camping ministry into something that it’s not. (We happen to think camp is pretty darn good the way it is.) It’s not about losing the things that make camp… camp. It is about working to be a part of the conversation. As a culture, we are hungry for “the good stuff.” There is a constant dialogue going about what is good for kids, how to meet developmental needs, what programs will grow young people into an honorable generation… We should be standing at the front of all of those meetings waving our arms and screaming, “CAMP CAN DO THAT!”
It occurred to me during a recent stuck-in-the-truck conversation that I’ve never seen a Christian camp in a Buzzfeed or Upworthy video. I’ve never seen the article “check out this camp that’s instilling confidence, interpersonal skills, and hope in kids today” while scrolling my Facebook. I've never seen a feel-good filler during the evening news that was about a Christian camp. The platforms exist and people want that kind of content, so where are we? Camp people know what we have to offer is life-altering. Our stories are inspiring. Camp is doing the good work. So how do we get a seat at the table?
For us, this project is alive. We are still figuring out what our role will be in the big picture of making camp something everyone is talking about. But #makecampmainstream has given us a focus and a mission, something we can wake up knowing we are working toward. We want camp to be part of "normal." If we really believe that camp can do all the things we say it can do, then we should be shouting from the mountaintops and making a way for camp to benefit every family. We see this effort as bigger than individual camp marketing, and perhaps bigger than we can achieve ourselves. Our hope is that every community would know where their local camp ministry is, what it can do for their family, and how they can be a part of it. There is a future beyond the current self-feeding system. There is potential in this ministry. We believe that we can get there, but not without doing something.
Let us know how you feel about #makecampmainstream. If you think it's great, we hope you'll help us spread the word.