40 Years of Camping Wasn’t Enough: Camp Gilgal
Long summer days, laughter, mediocre food, friends forever, crazy skits, games, songs and a campfire. These are memories that many people associate with their summer camp experiences. But if you were a Jewish kid who’s been to the Jews for Jesus-sponsored Camp Gilgal, you would add Hebrew, Shabbat and the Gilgal Gazette (our camp newspaper) to your list of camp experiences.
It’s been noted time and time again that one of the best places for children to receive Jesus into their lives is at camp. Our Camp Gilgal is no exception, and we’ve seen many come to faith in Yeshua as their Messiah there. Let me tell you about one.
Rose (not her real name) is a Russian Jewish girl whose family has been in contact with our outreach worker Lyuda in New York. The family allowed Rose to come to Camp Gilgal last year. She came with fear and shyness. Her fear melted as she got to know us…though it came back (temporarily) when she saw the horses!
Rose had heard about Jesus and even attended Bible studies from time to time, but during the morning Bible convocation time at camp (we call it Tabernacle”), she saw Jesus in a new way. She saw that He was for her and that she wanted what He offers. Last summer Rose asked Yeshua (Jesus) to be her Messiah and Lord. It was a great encouragement to see her enthusiasm and hear her asking about next year’s camp.
Rose has continued to walk by faith, though it has not been easy. Neither of her parents are believers yet, and it is difficult for her to get to church regularly. For children like Rose, Camp Gilgal is a time to soak in teaching and fellowship as well as fun. Here are some of the things campers wrote when I asked them what they like about Camp Gilgal:
“I think that it is a good experience for everyone. They get to try different activities that they don’t get to try at home. Also they get to learn about God and I think that’s cool.”
“You have lots of fun here at this camp because you learn about different people’s backgrounds and cultures. You learn how to deal with problems.”
“I like camp because we have all sorts of fun things to do, yet we still learn about God and what it means to be Jewish.”
“What I like about camp is learning about Jesus and singing songs.”
“What I like about camp is that it is like far away from the city and it is in the middle of nowhere and you can be independent.”
“I like the camp because we have the best activities, the best fishing. It is like another home to me.”
“The counselors are really devoted to Jesus and they help you to understand more better and you have a really fun time here.”
By the time you receive this, I’ll be leading our Camp Gilgal East (June 25-July 8). This year we are launching our camp in a new format at a new location. Please keep our campers and counselors in your prayers.
Josh has recently been assigned as our first full-time youth ministry missionary.
Josh Sofaer is the leader of the Los Angeles branch of Jews for Jesus. He is one of four boys, but no one else in his immediate family have come to faith yet. Josh previously led the organization’s New York branch and pioneered their children’s program on the East Coast. He received his theological training at Western Seminary. He and his wife, Annette, have two children, Eliana and Taliah.