The start of middle school, can bring about new challenges and changes for 6th graders. In a lot of ways, 6th grade is a year of significant transition for students as they move on to more complex learning, their friendship dynamics shift, and they begin to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus is all about.
One annual trip that has been a fixture at NLA is the Camp Forest Springs trip. During the spring the entire 6th grade class travels to a bible camp in north central Wisconsin for three days of hands on learning and spiritual formation, all set against a beautiful lakeside backdrop.
Camp is the culmination of the first year of middle school and extends the classroom into the outdoors that results in a unique opportunity to equip students with deeper insight, greater empathy, and a stronger connection to God, all without distractions like cell phones and video games. Students can ask questions in a safe environment and encounter God’s amazing power and beauty in nature.
The first chapel utilizes activity stations to try and fully understand what God did for us by sending His son to the cross and rising again, defeating death so we may join Him in eternity. Removing students from their daily routines and distractions allows them time to focus on strengthening their faith. This special chapel is intentionally placed at the beginning of camp so that over the days, students hearts are softened and they are drawn closer to Christ.
Through team-building experiences, students also bond as a class and have the opportunity to connect with older students that serve as high school counselors. Upon reflecting on their year, many 6th grade students mention Camp Forest Springs as their highlight from the year. Here are a few student reflections from the trip, including a senior who served as a high school counselor:
“Some good 6th grade memories of mine are from going to Camp Forest Springs. That was really the highlight of my year because it was fun and God-filled. God moved during the trip and I wish I could go again.” -Nick
“A big memory of mine was going to Camp Forest Springs. It was fun but also connected you to God. I realized what God did for me [on the Cross]. It’s truly miraculous!” -Landon
“My favorite memory from 6th grade is Camp Forest Springs. I loved hearing all the amazing sermons from Dr. Schrader and hearing all the testimonies of all the counselors. I also enjoyed bonding with friends that I didn’t know very well. Camp was an amazing time for me to really get closer to God and learn how I can be a better Christian and how I can show Christ through my everyday life.” -Noah
“I honestly learned way more on this trip than I did when I was a sixth grader. The impact that the kids had on me really changed my life for the better. They taught me that having a pure, open heart for Jesus is something that we should always strive for because it brings so much joy to life.” Emmy, student leader.
Camp Forest Springs truly is a transformative and unforgettable trip for students. Friendships develop, bonds are formed, we deepen our faith, and we grow stronger as a community. In fact, we share one lesson that is learned about the bogs at Camp Forest Springs. These tall trees grow on top of this Bog. Bogs are grown on top of water so where do the trees roots go so they can grow without falling if they are on top of the bog and water? For the trees to grow tall, they grab onto the other roots of the other trees to help them grow and get strong so they don’t fall down. As Christians we need each other to help us grow in life. Modeling the love of Christ and pointing students toward Him daily helps deepen and strengthen the faith of this generation. This is why our community values Christian education.
Even though graduation is many years away for these 6th graders, the camp experience is one of many opportunities along a students’ academic journey that helps shape them into NLA’s Portrait of a Graduate: Authentic Christ followers, Spirit Driven Individuals, Accomplished Learners, Mindful Doers, Agents of Positive Change, Wise Learners and Discerning Followers.