Why Summer Educational Program? What is S.E.P. for? Why is so much money and effort poured into a little three-week camp for teens? How much do you really understand it? And if you are going, how should you mentally prepare for it this year?
You may have heard Herbert W. Armstrong’s statement that the most important demographic the Church can reach is its youth. That is you! These youth camps take place to train this critical next generation—to train teachers for the World Tomorrow. You young people in the Church are the future leaders! And thus, you require special training for your responsibilities.
S.E.P. is one of those special training opportunities. How well are you responding? Are you just coming to enjoy a few weeks’ vacation away from home? Just killing time during the long summer months? Of course not. God is taking this opportunity, this camp, to reach out to you personally, to get to know you better on an individual level. How much will you reach out to Him? How close will you allow Him to get? S.E.P. is the perfect place to build your relationship with the great God, elevating it to new heights!
S.E.P. is all about building the Family of God. That is the program’s primary goal. So what are some practical ways you can prepare now to build the Family of God at S.E.P. ?
1. Prepare now for your prayer life at camp.
At S.E.P., you will hear a lot about sharpening your prayer life. More than likely, you will hear about prayer notebooks, and be given lists outlining basic subjects to pray about in your life and in the Work of God. Prepare now to refine the quality and length of your prayers before, during and after camp! Pray now that the pyc experience takes your prayer life to even greater heights!
Do you struggle with stirring up the motivation to pray? We can all struggle with that at times. I am reminded of a statement I heard from Evangelist Alex Harrison in a sermon several years ago. “Don’t feel like praying?” he said. “Tell that to God! Ask Him for the desire to pray.” Pray that God would give you that desire to pray to him now as well as during S.E.P.! Let God know if you are struggling in this area. He is not intending to beat you down. Show Him you want His assistance, and He will help you!
Set specific goals now for your prayer life at S.E.P.—goals for length in prayer, goals for focused quality of prayer. There are so many different facets of S.E.P. that you can be praying about now so camp this year can go that much more smoothly.
2. Prepare to spend time with the ministry.
God’s ministers are a key part of His Family; they help edify and unite that Family (Ephesians 4:11-16). Don’t let a day go by without making some contact with a minister. This will be a unique opportunity for you at S.E.P.: to be surrounded by so many ministers. Most Church members never get to have that. So take advantage of it!
What should you talk about? Tell them about your life back at home, your congregation, what you are looking forward to the most at S.E.P., and what your goals are in life. They would love to talk to you—if you overcome any barriers and give them the time.
3. Prepare to forge strong friendships.
Camp can be nerve-wracking for some—coming from far distances to a strange land, meeting unfamiliar people. But we are all tied together by a common mind and goal! Camp director Wayne Turgeon said the pyc mindset is about leaving “problems, fears, worries, concerns behind and really embracing God’s way of selflessness, outgoing, flowing, giving, concern and sacrifice for three weeks.” So forget yourself, and be outgoing to your fellow brothers and sisters at S.E.P. A lot of campers may not have many, if any, friends their age in their congregation. Plan to build friendships that will last longer than camp itself, and then keep in contact with those who do not have close friends their age in their area. Plan to use this S.E.P. to sharpen the iron of your friendships (Proverbs 27:17).
Come to S.E.P. to have fun. Come to try your best at every single activity. Come to pull yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. But come chiefly with a mindset of building the Family of God. Come with a mindset to get to know the ministry, and to get to know your fellow brothers and sisters that much better.
Many who have attended previous camps say that S.E.P changed their lives. It can change yours too! Many Armstrong College students will tell you that the main thing that motivated them to apply for college was S.E.P. That’s true for me as well. Seeing God’s way of life put to practice here for those few fantastic weeks as a camper was more than enough to persuade me to apply for God’s college. Seeing the Family of God being built at camp is an awe-inspiring sight. But that building begins now—before camp even begins. So prepare now to do your part in building the Family of God at camp, and I guarantee you, you will have the best S.E.P. ever!