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Introducing Compass Camps: Bible-centred summer camps

January 2019 | by Mike Jones

Compass Camp is a week-long activity for 11-17 year olds which is set in the heart of the Lake District. The camp combines sound Bible teaching with challenging activities, fun and appreciation of the wonder of God’s creation.

It is borne out of the desire to see young people’s lives transformed through the teaching of God’s Word from the Bible so that they may go out and live for Jesus.

The Camp which has been in operation for over 40 years, is overseen by the Grace Baptist Churches at Accrington and Lancaster and led by Christians who have many years’ experience both of spiritual issues and ensuring the safety and well being of the campers.

The main aim at the centre of all that we do on camp is very simple. We long for young people to experience and encounter Jesus so that they genuinely know God. We believe that when God’s Word is preached, taught and read, people’s lives can be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Camp is based in the picturesque village of Coniston and whilst the campers sleep under canvas in groups of six, we have the full use of meeting rooms, showers and cooking facilities in the adjacent sports and social centre.

So what happens on a typical day at Camp?  Each day starts with a short time for each leader and camper to individually spend time in God’s word. This is followed by breakfast and preparations for the rest of the day’s activities. Then campers gather for the main teaching session of the day which concentrates on a particular theme or topic.

The afternoon involves the outdoor activities for the day. Campers are divided into different groups based on age and spend the afternoon involved in ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, raft building, or walking the superb countryside. It is important to note that all of these activities are supervised by experienced external instructors who are fully qualified.

Upon returning from the afternoon activity there is usually some free time before food where there are always games organised, or campers could use this time to catch a moment’s rest! After dinner, each evening features a whole camp activity, often competing in tent groups.

To end the day, each tent meets together to study God’s word on a separate, but linked theme to the main sessions. These sessions are designed to help us think through and apply God’s word to our lives, and to provide opportunities to ask more searching questions.

During the week campers are encouraged to ask any questions that they may have as a result of what they have heard taught in the main talk sessions, from their Bible studies, or from any other area that is on their mind.

A box is provided where campers can anonymously put their questions. These questions are then addressed during an evening session in the middle of the week. These are often lively, engaging, and very insightful times which provide much wisdom for leaders and campers alike.

Over the years of Camp, many young people have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, others have had their faith challenged and deepened and many have formed lifelong friendships.

We would urge churches to remember the camp in your prayers, to consider sending some of their young people to camp and if necessary, subsidise the cost for under privileged families or donating to camp to help towards running costs.

The fees for 2019 are £185 per camper, and this includes all the meals and activities. Further information and photos can be found on our website:

Mike Jones of Grace Baptist Church, Lancaster

Editor’s note — I didn’t commission this article, but I smiled warmly when it landed in my inbox. As a young boy, and then a teenager, I attended this camp every summer for several years. That was in its earlier incarnation of the ‘Austwick Camps’ when it met in the village of that name in the Yorkshire Dales.

We didn’t do half the adventurous activities that the current campers enjoy. In my day, it all revolved around trudging around the Dales until your legs dropped off! But the emphasis on Bible preaching and discussing gospel questions was very much at the centre of things. I’m glad that hasn’t changed.

My uncle, Dick Eccles, and others set up the camp over 40 years ago. He and his family were the ones who were instrumental in taking me on the camp. His son, Brian, is still leading the camp, having started attending as a five-year-old!

I think of the leaders and preachers I met on those camps. Men like John Hall, Ian Densham, Phil Arthur, Malcom McGregor, Martin Howell and others. I’m embarrassed now when I look back and think of how much trouble I caused them as a teenager on those camps.

Yet, at the same time, something of the gospel was getting through to me. I remember one year in particular when the preaching on the book of James struck me powerfully.

Those camps were big stepping stones, used by God’s grace, to lead me to Christ. Not only for me, but for others also. I doubt I would be a pastor or editor of ET without those camps.

For two years I helped as a leader on the Compass Camp. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work too. I know how much they appreciate those who are willing to give up time during the summer to help run the camp, so if you are interested get in touch. I warmly commend it.

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