The Power of Play


I am always interested when I come across info that is relevant to camp ministry. What do we have going for us here at camp? Woods, friends, getting away from screens of all shapes and sizes, focused time learning about God, and time to play. Being in the forest feeds the soul and stepping into a new adventure grows you as a person. Seeing someone a little older than you who is hungry for God’s word changes you. But this week Scruffy was listening to a podcast on the value of play. 

This weekend is the CamasCon Christian Board Gamer’s Retreat. It’s a perfect time to look at the value of play. 

So, Scruff was listening to a podcast, as he often is, and came across a fascinating study. As many studies do, this one had its roots in tragedy. Up until recently, the largest school shooting occured in the 1960s. But the perpetrator left a suicide note asking if someone could figure out why he felt the way he did. And so a scientist was assigned this task. Why did this man in particular kill? He studied the killer’s life, perfect student and soldier, always getting great grades, never getting into trouble. But one thing stood out about this man’s life. He never relaxed and never played. He was always on task. The researcher looked deeper and found out that this man’s father had prevented him from playing, ever, even as a young baby. Taking the idea further, the researcher went into prisons and started interviewing killers. What many of them had in common, they didn’t play.

God did not design us to live like this.

Exodus 23:12–“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.” 

Mark 2:27–“Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Now, if you don’t come up to CamasCon or Summer Camp this year are you going to go on a shooting spree? Probably not. But this startling story emphasizes the value of something simple that we try to accomplish here at camp. We play. At CamasCon they sit in front of complicated strategy board games for 3-11 hours at a time. At Junior Camps they ride horses and have water fights and run all over the woods looking for chess pieces hidden in the forest. At home, my boys snuggle their chickens and ride bikes and have monster pillow fights. My step dad would go hunting or chop wood. My grandfather fiddles around in his wood shop. I curl up with a good book and a cup of tea when I am weary. These are all forms of rest, forms of play.

Hiking and crafts, paintball and slip-n-slide, night games and singing and three legged races in the meadow. God made us to work hard and to accomplish great feats. But He also made us to rest and play and be refreshed. He knew that the human soul needs careful care. He knew that we would see Him in the gentle way that sunlight filters through the branches of a forest and in the sound of laughter as kids dig through bowls of mashed potatoes looking for Skittles. He understood that if our souls were never at play, they would shrivel and die.

And so I challenge you today, have you taken the time to play? Walk a mountain trail, grab a picture book and pull your child into your lap, set up a board game with you sons, make a craft out of pine cones with your little girls. Remember how God made us. We must pause from our perpetual accomplishment and take the time to be refreshed. It is to our benefit that we rest. How can we ever see God if we are constantly focused and busy. He will not always chase us down and tackle us demanding that we see His glory. Sometimes we must rest and be quiet, or laugh and be loud in order to see Him at work and find rest for our souls.


Boo Boo

3 thoughts on “The Power of Play

  1. Pingback: » Campfire Saturday

  2. Oh My Gosh I listen to that podcast! I heard that. It’s so awesome Scruffy also heard that awesome episode. And by the way it wasn’t just some of the killers it was ALL (18?) of them that didn’t play, I think. Play is a great idea! Since its almost 9, I plan to play somehow tommorow (I’m not at CamasCon staying up until 3am.) :). I’ll play on the “7th” day I guess. Thanks Boo Boo! This post was a good reminder, it brightened my day. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the clarification, Socrates. OK everyone, that is all 18ish of the killers didn’t play. So get on out there and let yourself enjoy the beautiful things that The Lord has made for us. Wind and woods, friends and pets, sun and stars and glory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *