Talking With Jesus: Cultivating a Prayerful Culture at Camp Mini-Yo-We

Camp MYWBlog

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7

At Camp Mini-Yo-We, we’re committed to nurturing a dynamic relationship with Jesus through prayer. Leaders aren’t islands; the most influential leaders throughout history have understood their dependence on a power greater than themselves. We promote prayer as the primary line of communication with Jesus, encouraging our campers to consider prayer as their first port of call rather than an emergency escape hatch. This practice instills a profound, intimate connection with God that can guide their decision-making and influence their actions as leaders. It’s so essential to us that it’s one of the six pillars we strive to develop in the lives of leaders at Camp Mini-Yo-We. 

Prayer: A Central Tenet of Our History and Future

Since its inception, Camp Mini-Yo-We has held prayer as a central part of its ministry. 

Our leadership has a rich history of being prayer-focused, understanding that true wisdom and guidance come from God alone. While we’re proud of our history and the culture of prayer within our ministry, I think this is an area of growth for us. We’re dedicated to amplifying this critical aspect of our leadership development better to equip our young leaders for their lives of influence. We want to continue to weave this into our camper & staff experiences at Camp this summer and for years to come. 

Prayer in Our Daily Lives: More than Ritual

At Camp Mini-Yo-We, prayer permeates our daily routines and activities far beyond traditional recitations before meals, which we joyfully honour with songs passed down through generations. An activity leader might pause during a session to express gratitude for a beautiful day, a cabin leader might use prayer as a comforting close to an evening discussion, and our campers are always encouraged to turn to prayer whenever needed.

Importantly, we respect every individual’s faith journey. We understand that approximately half of our campers don’t regularly attend church, and we strive to create an inclusive and pressure-free environment that welcomes and values every person’s unique perspective. We never compel any camper to pray, but we always provide opportunities for those who wish to explore this practice.

Prayer as a Personal Encounter with God

We believe prayer should be a personal encounter with God, not a rehearsed or ritualistic monologue. As Jesus emphasized, prayer should emanate from the heart (Matthew 6:5–8). We encourage our campers to embrace their unique style of prayer, expressing their thoughts and feelings to God in their own words.

The Benefits of Prayer for Your Camper

Numerous studies highlight the positive impact of prayer on spiritual development. A significant body of research indicates the pivotal role of role models and communication in shaping a child’s understanding and practice of faith. A study by Boyatzis and Janicki, published in the Review of Religious Research, emphasizes the impact of adult-child communication on religious transmission, highlighting both unilateral and bidirectional communication styles. [ref

We attempt to foster a space where our young leaders can observe and interact with positive role models who demonstrate an active relationship with Jesus, inviting them to partake in this divine dialogue and, in turn, nurture their spiritual growth.

In an important study by Masters, Spielmans and Goodson, they found that individuals who engage in regular prayer experience a sense of peace, stronger interpersonal relationships and lower levels of anxiety and depression. [ref]

Moreover, prayer fosters a connection with God, providing a greater sense of purpose and meaning. This connection can, in turn, influence one’s approach to challenges, promote resilience and contribute to overall well-being.

These findings underscore the potential benefits of fostering an active prayer life for your campers, such as the one we aim to cultivate at Camp Mini-Yo-We. Prayer deepens one’s spiritual connection and provides practical, emotional, and psychological benefits to support our young leaders’ journeys.

Linking Prayer to Leadership

Our mission at Camp Mini-Yo-We is “to develop tomorrow’s leaders through life-changing adventure in God’s creation.” In prayer, we offer our campers the incredible opportunity to converse with Jesus, the greatest leader ever known. This interaction equips them with a unique perspective and insight into servant leadership, contributing to their development as leaders.

The Time That Broccoli Prayed for My Friends and Me at Mini-Yo-We

The transformative power of prayer isn’t merely theoretical; it’s a personal, lived experience for many at Camp Mini-Yo-We. One of my own life-altering experiences was on a canoe trip across Mary Lake.

As campers, we’d spent the afternoon on the far side of the lake, blissfully unaware of a storm brewing on the horizon. Recognizing the impending threat, our leaders rallied us together, and we hurriedly packed up to return to the main site. Standing on the shore, a cabin leader, known by the camp name “Broccoli,” stopped us all before we pushed off to paddle quickly back to the other side. 

In that moment, Broccoli sent up a simple yet sincere prayer, asking for God’s protection and a change in the weather. And wouldn’t you know it, the weather changed. We paddled back in calmer conditions, filled with wonder and gratitude. This profound encounter, which I’ve carried with me since then, affirmed God’s care and keen interest in our dialogue with Him.

At Camp Mini-Yo-We, we’re eager to replicate meaningful experiences for thousands of campers each summer. We want our young leaders to know they can rely on a power far greater than themselves. In fostering a culture of prayer, we aim to instill a faith that shapes character, guides actions and stands firm in the face of life’s storms.

As we continue to weave prayer more deeply into the fabric of Camp Mini-Yo-We, we invite our campers to discover the comfort, guidance and transformative power this divine dialogue can offer.