Summer is upon us … and that means less quiet time inside and more things to do outside! The changing of the seasons is a constant reminder that God’s promises are true (Gen. 8:20-22). It also reminds us that the summer camping season is right around the corner. Time to check out all the new things that God is doing at Victory Valley Camp!
You may not have noticed, but a lot has been happening in the Valley over the last couple years. One of the biggest changes is that in June 2021, Curt Cutler was appointed as the new Camp Director. Having left a career in aerospace engineering, the direction and methods that Curt has employed at VVC dig deep into the real needs of kids today and resemble much more than just the mechanical or physical aspects of running a camp. Every improvement at Victory Valley following his arrival has flowed out of a commitment to understand and support God’s complete purpose in life for children.
This emphasis was noticeably present when speaking with Curt about his recent calling to VVC. “The world is constantly telling kids today that they are only as valuable as what they can produce,” says Cutler. “On the contrary, kids’ lives [have] value; they do not have to earn their worth. God’s Word is clear (Eph. 2:8-10) in that children are made by the LORD to fulfill His purposes.”
Such statements may sound clear or even obvious to most believers in Christ, but these foundational truths have led the camp to understand the corresponding choices children will face in life. “The world’s three biggest questions to kids today are: 1) a question of identity, 2) a question of purpose, and 3) a question of relationship,” says Cutler. “These cause kids to ask themselves: ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’, and ‘Am I who I say I am, or am I a Christian just because that’s what my parents believe?’” Regarding the only way to help kids truly answer these questions Cutler then affirms, “It is of utmost importance to know Christ and your own faith, and to understand your identity in who you were made to be.”
What’s followed at Victory Valley is a new mission statement and the following objectives for growing the ministry of the camp:
- Discipling VVC staff
- Discipling children through VVC staff
According to Cutler, “… it is important to provide an enjoyable, fun week of camping, however, this will be the natural byproduct of the camp’s efforts in multiplying the number of students who desire to be ambassadors for Christ. Since children are impressionable, the most effective ministry to campers will be through someone just a few years older. Since the ministry of VVC desires to reach all campers for the sake of Christ, Victory Valley must first be comprised of staff members who are serious disciples of Christ themselves, prepared to serve and be examples to children. To this end, VVC must spiritually invest first in its staff to be spiritual leaders for tomorrow.”
So, in order to better meet the mission of reaching children for Jesus, Victory Valley began looking at ways to improve staff care and training. Several areas were identified: methods to sustain staff week-over-week and year-over-year to prevent burn-out, specific training to balance the weekly duties of staffers, and prioritizing Bible devotions, healthy sleep routines, attitude, and personal accountability. By investing time developing these areas in full-time staff, Victory Valley set the tone for all incoming and temporary summer staff and, by extension, for each camper. As a result, the camp has steadily been transformed into a ministry and training ground for staff and campers alike. Not only are Bible verses and Bible knowledge taught, but opportunities for long-term personal ministry are the focus for everyone.
The camp’s new mission statement reads “Victory Valley Camp exists to ignite a passion for Jesus Christ by training the leaders of tomorrow through Christian camping today.” The goal is to reach kids for Christ, where the method used to accomplish this is camping. It is a subtle shift, one that sees every objective, thought, and decision through a lens of Christian discipleship, everything from staff to accommodations to campers to activities to training to personal growth.
The results are notable. First, Grayson Ausley, the new VVC program director was hired in March 2022. A much needed and valued addition to the full-time staff , Grayson manages the delivery of VVC’s goals for staff and campers. Second, summer camp registrations have continued to grow. In 2022 approximately 1200 children participated in these programs, alongside 84 staffers. This year over 78% of summer staff are returning to serve at camp, an all-time high. Most of all, 35 committed decisions for Christ took place throughout those camping weeks.
Victory Valley also operates during the other 9 months of the year. In addition to summer camp, VVC hosted 1100 additional guests through rental groups throughout the Winter, Spring, and Fall months, which included guests from 10 different regional churches.
Exciting patterns have emerged in other areas as well. In 2023, VVC Day Camp (a program for children ages 5-11 to experience much of what camp has to offer without staying overnight) has been full with an ever-growing wait list for the last two years. What’s notable about this program is that the majority of the children who attend are completely unchurched. As a result, for the first time in history Victory Valley has been witnessing primarily to those who have no background in the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has allowed VVC to continue to be used and grow in this ever-increasing mission field to children in the community.
New for Fall 2023, Victory Valley will launch its inaugural staff training program designed to call, disciple, train, and equip students for the service of summer camp and beyond. This program will provide Biblical leadership, spiritual foundations, and assist candidates in identifying where they are best called into ministry. This effort represents the proactive steps needed to intentionally identify and disciple staff, so they can effectively disciple campers.
“So why should parents be excited about sending their children to Victory Valley?” Cutler asks. Kids will be led by staff who embody the love of Christ which they have first received themselves. This is the fuel that gets poured into the tank of each child who attends VVC. Simply put, children who attend a week of summer camp walk away changed. God is bringing the masses of the lost to our doorstep I believe that God has more in store for us than what we do right now. I believe it is our job to do everything we can to meet and minister to them. We have been called to step into that gap.”
Summer is definitely upon us, but it doesn’t mean that kids have to exclusively choose between quiet time and outdoor fun. Send your kids to Victory Valley Camp where they will indeed have the best of both!
For further information, please contact Victory Valley Camp at 610-966-5880 or via email at email@example.com.
For parents and others interested in supporting Victory Valley, the camp has several ways to help out:
1. PRAYER – This is by far the greatest service to the camp, to offer up prayers to God for the continuing needs and success of VVC.
2. VOLUNTEER SERVICE – Many service opportunities exist throughout the year including firewood cutting and splitting days, landscaping , carpentry repairs, and much more. Contact Travis@VictorValleyCamp.org for more information.
3. FINANCIAL – With aging infrastructure, VVC is in need of many significant renovations in the next few years in order to continue the ministry. Donors can make contributions to VVC by contacting the camp by phone or email, as well as using the online giving feature at www.victoryvalleycamp.org.
by Gregory Alderfer, member of the Communication Committee and teacher in the adult discipleship ministry in Faith BFC in Harleysville, PA.