Jesus Never Fails, Even on Vacation
“Are we going to Sandy Cove today Daddy? Sandy Cove is my favorite place in the world. I really want to go.”
Hannah 5 – every day when we get in the car during the year.
Spiritually Refreshing Family Fun
Sandy Cove is a special place for our family. It is where we go for vacation to rest and recharge each year. It is more than just a pretty place. It is where Jesus never fails to meet us and refresh us for the year ahead. It is such a blessing for us!
My wife and I did not grow up in Christian circles. Our family vacations were of the strictly secular variety. We would go to the beach or skiing. We would spend hours on the golf course. The goal was to get away from our regular life…including church. This continued after we were married. It was the same after we were saved. We did not know there were any alternatives. Jesus was not a main part of the equation on vacation, but it was not intentional. It was what we were used to.
Our vacations were filled with activities. We rushed from one place to the next while tending to the kids. We had fun, but we ultimately returned home exhausted. We needed a vacation from our vacation. There was nothing wrong with the time. It was often wonderful and fun. There was just a vague feeling that there should be more. We did not know what it was. Turns out the answer was Jesus.
Then a friend told us about Sandy Cove Ministries. We attended our first Family Camp as a last minute choice for summer vacation. It was a life-changing decision for us. Our perspective on family vacation changed dramatically as a result. We still have a wonderful time filled with fun activities. But now we don’t leave Jesus behind. The result is we still get home tired from the fun. But we also go home refreshed and overflowing from the time with the Lord.
Family Camp encourages the whole family’s walk with the Lord and is just
plain fun. We have gone every year since.
As a note – I was not asked to write this post I am not employed by or affiliated with Sandy Cove. My whole family just loves the time so much, I wanted to pass on the blessing. They also have great programs all year long, like Catapult. My son, Sean and I got to throw axes and shoot slingshots! Here is our Catapult adventure action shot.
A Week of Refreshment
We had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Sandy Cove for the first time. We previewed the Family Camp videos like the one below. My wife and I had both been to the location for conferences. But we had no idea of just how sweet the time is during the weeks of Family Camp. It is like mixing together a cruise ship with a little preview of heaven. A beautiful setting, fun activities and enjoying fellowship with a whole complex of people who love Jesus. It is wonderful.
What is Sandy Cove?
Sandy Cove is a retreat center at the head of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The main lodge looks kind of like a hotel sitting on the Susquehanna River. There are also economy cabins, log cabins and a campground on the property. Sandy Cove is much more than the Marriott though. They are a ministry that seeks to sow Jesus into the lives of all who come through their doors.
This shows in everything they do. Their programs are focused on the Bible and growing in the Christian life. It is not just a prayer and then go about your business. The Lord is part of everything they do.
This is displayed through the staff. We have been consistently blessed by the obvious hearts for Jesus of all of the staff we have met over the years. The whole atmosphere is washed in prayer and in the love of Jesus. They have lots of retreats, conferences and other events all throughout the year. Our highlight is Family Camp. It is an essential bonding time for our family.
Family Camp is five days of worship, Bible study, fellowship and fun as a family. It occurs every summer over a 5 week period. It is called camp because it has elements of an old style group campout. However, it is much more than that.
Each day starts with worshipping the Lord through music as a group. It is like a mini-church worship time. The family gathers and sings together for a couple of songs. There is always a camp style song to keep the flavor of family camp present even when in a hotel style lodging. There is also a short devotion that teaches the theme for the week. Families are called and participate. Then children are dismissed to go to their own age groups for morning activities. More worship follows and then a guest Bible teacher comes and provides teaching for the morning.
This Bible time is one of the underrated gems of Family Camp. Our flesh might rebel about the idea of Bible study on vacation. Yet, as parents of 4 children, a time to worship and hear excellent preaching without worry or distraction is always an amazing blessing. We are relaxed and not worrying about life. The Word of the Lord feeds us without distraction. This is particularly special for us since we are a ministry family.
The teachings are Bible-focused and encouraging. We have had different styles of teachers each year. Ted Cunningham is a pastor who preaches the Word with a focus on marriage. He is also a comic who kept us laughing the whole. They often have teachers from Torchbearers who are great teachers of the Word – less comedy involved.
Sandy Cove does not just bring in people who are popular or entertaining. They seek out those who are teaching the Bible without compromise and are devoted to building the Body of Christ. This is real, unfiltered Bible in quantity. It is life-changing for many who come and hear good teaching for the first time. For more read Why am I NOT Growing in Christ? A Hard Hitting Answer
There is also a life coaching session available in the evening. This is a second session of Bible teaching with a practical focus. Childcare is provided here as well.
We have had a young child in our household for a long time based on the spacing of our children. The time alone with the Lord and with my wife has been hugely helpful for our marriage. Sitting and talking with my bride as the sun goes down over the river is priceless on its own. The time builds up our marriage.
What about the Kids?
The kids have their own programs while the parents are occupied. The younger children have fun activities scheduled each day. They swim, play water games, play in Palmer Auditorium and are otherwise enjoying themselves. The groups are small and led by young summer staff. Contrary to popular stereotypes about counselors, these college-aged kids are wonderful examples for the visiting kids of all ages. Their relationship with Jesus is part of the hiring process and it shows. Those involved with the younger kids are sweet and attentive to the little ones’ needs. Our five year old asks just about every day when we are going back to Sandy Cove. She loves it that much.
The leaders of the older groups are also great examples. The high school and middle school groups work with a visiting youth pastor and their counselors. The leaders seek to sow seeds of godliness into the kids while also having fun. My kids have appreciated good teaching and discussion with other Jesus loving teens. They worship, talk about the Lord and do fun activities together as a group. It is Youth Group done really well and focused on Jesus.
The remainder of the time is filled with scheduled, optional activities. They are set up and free for participation, but there is no pressure to participate. There are simple things like tennis, kayaking on the river and a mini-golf course. The kayaks are a favorite of my wife and I. There are pools, frisbee golf, and lots of open activities in the auditorium. The kids uniformly love playing Gaga Ball and Nine Square in the Air. There are also wavecutters, a zip line, and tubing. The grounds are also safe and secluded in North East, MD, so the kids can set out on their own for a good portion of the time – a definite rarity these days.
There are also group activities that add to the community aspect. These run a wide range of types. There is building and firing paper rockets while drinking rootbeer floats. There are basketball, volleyball, and ping pong tournaments. There are also soccer and softball games with the staff. One of our family favorites is archery tag. Shooting each other with foam-tipped arrows is quite fun. These activities are scheduled throughout the time. They are included in the price for Family Camp.
It is hard to underrate the benefits to our family- from playing soccer together with my sons or shooting off rockets we built together to kayaking and competing in boat races. We sing together, laugh together, learn about Jesus together and grow as a Christian family together in a concentrated manner at Family Camp. It is a place where the Living Water of Jesus flows freely. We would not trade the time for anything. This is the reason that we have gone every year and some families have been coming for decades.
Don’t believe me, check it out. Sandy Cove Family Camp They want new people to come and experience the joy of Sandy Cove, so first-time visitors are offered 50% off of the cost. This was the sweetener for us the first time, and it worked beautifully. Once you go, you will want to go back as we did.
Jesus Never Fails reads the sign at the entrance to Sandy Cove. This is true. But for Jesus to have the opportunity to do something awesome on your vacation, you have to take Him with you.
For more on this idea, read Share in the Fragrance of Christ and Is Your Identity in Christ?
or watch Are You a Jesus Person?
Sandy Cove blesses our family every year.
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