I’ve never attended an evangelical summer camp. And after reading this, I can’t imagine why anyone would.
Harvest Bible Chapel, a megachurch in Illinois, recently held a 10-day-long “Camp Harvest” for kids that apparently involved counselors engaging in multiple forms of hazing.
According to a statement from the church, some campers were involved in the “Icy Hot Challenge,” which (at least on Urban Dictionary) is where you apply Icy Hot lidocaine, a numbing pain reliever, to your genitals to see who can withstand the pain the longest.
But don’t worry. At least there were no COVID concerns!
This challenge was administered by an HBC Student Pastor, who has now been terminated from employment… Please note that we found no evidence of any person-to-person contact during this incident, nor was there apparently any moment where any person visibly exposed themselves to others during the incident.
The other form of hazing wasn’t specified, but after an unscheduled late-night game of “Silent Football” (which involved “staff, students, and cabin leaders”), losers would receive a punishment. The church described some of those punishments as “juvenile and immature” and others as having “a general pattern of embarrassment, humiliation, and gross behavior.”
Do I even want to know…?
I guess the silver lining is that the church is taking it all seriously enough to fire the people involved and report all incidents to secular authorities:
In compliance with applicable legal requirements and out of an abundance of caution, these incidents were reported upon discovery to the state of Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Agency (LARA), which handles camper licensing matters, as well to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which handle child safety matters. We have and will continue to fully cooperate with local law enforcement and regulatory agency partners with anything they request from us. Harvest’s internal investigation and actions are independent of those of the law enforcement investigations.
Good. Fine. It’s the least they could do. I still want to know why the hell they thought an in-person summer camp would be a wise decision during the pandemic, but that’s a separate concern.
Remember that this is the same megachurch once run by Pastor James MacDonald, who was fired more than a year ago after details of his extravagant spending, financial mismanagement, and possibly hiring a hitman to murder his son-in-law came to light. He left the megachurch in shambles. Now two of their satellite campuses may have to shut down over tax problems. Oh, and also, MacDonald allegedly misused millions of dollars meant for the church for his own “financial benefit.” Also, MacDonald and his church filed a lawsuit against several writers who worked to bring the church’s corruption to light.
In other words, the hazing at this Christian summer camp is really the least of the congregation’s worries.
If the parents didn’t care enough about the corruption to leave the church for good, why would they be surprised that the summer camp isn’t well-managed either?