Ridge Haven Executive Director Wallace Anderson is encouraged by the number of students planning to attend summer camp at the Brevard, N.C.-based PCA conference center this summer. Just three years ago, fewer than 500 kids attended camp. This summer, that number is expected to reach 1,500.

According to Anderson, the camp’s popularity is a product of its distinct, dual approach. First, Ridge Haven ensures that kids build one-on-one relationships with their college-age counselors, who consistently point them to the Lord. Secondly, the camp draws campers away from the nonstop cycle of entertainment and technology that today’s youth have at their fingertips: No cell phones, laptops, or any other high-tech gadgets are allowed at camp.

The impact the counselors have, Anderson says, can’t be overestimated. Outside of camp, kids face all kinds of negative peer pressure, but at Ridge Haven they experience an onslaught of positive influence as counselors encourage young people to live for Christ. Ridge Haven looks for counselors who are spiritually and emotionally mature, Anderson says. What’s more, they spend two weeks in training to equip them to share their faith and be an example of Christ to the campers.

“As a parent myself,” Anderson said, “I remember so many instances when my kids came home from youth group or their youth small group meetings with a new awareness of some means of grace, such as prayer or devotions. Often, it was the very thing my wife and I had been telling them to do for years. But what an impact it had when their youth leaders — most of whom were just a few years older than they were — would share what they were personally doing. To have it both preached and lived out by someone so close to their age was almost like hearing it for the first time. It made an incredible difference in their lives.”

The seven-week camp season begins in June and runs through early August. It includes camps for kids from 3rd grade through 12th grade.

For more information on Ridge Haven summer camps, visit ridgehaven.org/camps.