As the Program Director of Beacon, I get to be involved with a very fun side of camp. Programs include everything from canoeing and crafts to sports and games to out trips and wide games to decor and special events. Programs help campers try new things, develop skills, create long-lasting memories, have a laugh, and bond with fellow campers and leaders. What's not to love?
And yet, you're not likely to find a section on "fun" in a systematic theology textbook or as the topic of a small group Bible study. Asking to have fun may be at the top of a young child's prayer request list, but it wouldn't be considered mature in the prayer of an adult believer. So where does fun... and my job... fit into the kingdom of God? Is fun a pointless pursuit in God's eyes?
The answer is yes and no.
Is fun pointless? I would say yes... if fun is the ultimate goal. Our culture teaches us that the best way to evaluate an experience is to ask the question "Did I have fun?" If the answer is no, then we are supposed to think that it's the fault of the experience. It clearly didn't have enough action, enough excitement, enough distraction to work for us. Our emotions, our mood, and our preferences become the standards by which we judge an experience. This is truly pointless, because God's kingdom goals are completely ignored. It's all about the kingdom of me.
But is all fun truly pointless? I would say definitely not, when it's used to achieve a bigger goal! So many of the commands that we are given in the Bible - to love, to encourage, to be joyful, to sing, to be thankful, to show grace, to grow - are naturally promoted and accomplished in the process of having fun. Having fun also opens our minds to the skills, relationships, perspectives and opportunities that are involved in the activity. In other words, fun can be a very valuable teaching tool.
A simple but effective way to make fun meaningful is through the process of debriefing. A debrief gives participants the opportunity to reflect on what they've just done and put into words the effects of their experience. In a fast-paced society, taking the time to think about what we've just done is a lost art! These moments of debrief and reflection can be eye-opening and heart-softening; and God is there, ready to speak.
A good week of programming at a Christian camp is not one that aims to have simply fun, but one where the end goal is to point the participant's eyes to the source of all joy, God Himself. As the Program Director at Beacon Bible Camp, it's my heartfelt desire that the programming the campers experience this summer will use fun as it is meant to be used: as a tool in the hand of God through which He expands His kingdom in the lives of both campers and staff.