Here in the northern hemisphere of the western world, life revolves around the school calendar. This derived from the planting and harvest cycle of our agrarian forbearers, since they needed their children on the family farm during summer. With agriculture now highly automated, summers have become time off for many children. It’s also a slower season for some of the rest of us not on the farms.

So what are you doing with your summer? To me, warmer weather with its option to be out of doors is a hint of heaven itself. Humanity was created to be outside. Eden was a garden, remember. And the new earth will restore that pristine living situation.

Meanwhile, I have a suggestion for a good place to spend part of your summer: camp meeting. All six local conferences in Mid-America provide a camp meeting experience for your inspiration and fellowship.

Camp meeting doesn’t just happen. Pastors and lay volunteers work hard in preparation and set up (and conference administrators strive to limit liabilities from some of the exciting youth activities). There is expense involved as well—but the time and the cost of camp meeting are worth it. We know, from Scripture teaching and personal experience, that God’s people must gather together on a regular basis for mutual encouragement and spiritual growth. And so, while I can’t tell you what to do, I will urge you: “My friend, go to camp meeting!” It is truly a foretaste of heaven.

Along with camp meeting for everyone, all local conferences offer summer camps for our kids and teens. For me personally, as I moved from childhood to adolescence, summer camp was always a big thing. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Yes, it is a bit pricey in these days of economic challenge. But your kids will have multiple opportunities to deepen their spiritual commitment. They will look back at summer camp as a priceless experience—a preview of heaven.

At no small expense, Rocky Mountain Conference offers a Sabbath worship experience at Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Sabbath school, divine worship, followed by a divine potluck occur there every Sabbath from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Coordinated by Dr. George and Myrna Hill, this event could be a great blessing to you. A few days of vacation at Yellowstone Park will again be foretaste of heaven—right in the backyard of the Mid-America Union.

Heaven is a place we anticipate with great joy and expectation. But until Jesus comes, we have summertime in Mid-America with its camp meetings, summer camps and vacation time. Summer also offers wonderful opportunities for mission trips, church building projects, school preparation, and community outreach ventures. (Sowing and reaping is not just agricultural activity!) All of this helps to prepare us and our neighbors for that great place the Lord has promised His people. We will go there together when the trumpet sounds and the Lord descends from heaven with a shout. (See 1 Thes. 4:16-18.)

Looking forward to that blessed hope, I hope our paths will cross this summer—somewhere in the heartland of America.

This Yellowstone grizzly was photographed by the author from an estimated distance of 30-45 yards.