There are so many fun ways you can include meaningful devotional times in your camping trips. No matter who’s along and their ages, we have ideas for you.
Do you want a trip theme? Will you write your own devotions or use already-published ones? When will you do them? Who’s going to lead them each day?
These are the questions we’ll help answer here.
One of the main reasons people go camping is to be in nature. It’s a great opportunity to remember the Creator of all this nature and appreciate the work of His hands. Sometimes we can experience God’s presence “out there” in ways we don’t at home amid the busyness of regular life.
We can take advantage of that and set aside some time each day during our trips to let God’s word impact us and the Holy Spirit meet us—both individually and as a group.
Here are some things to think about when you’re preparing daily devotions for your next camping trip:
Pick a Trip Theme
Some of us love choosing themes for life events (like camping trips) while others prefer spontaneity. Whatever suits you and your crew best is what you should go with.
If you like the idea of picking a trip theme, there are endless options.
One idea is to center your theme around the type of trip:
- Are you backpacking with friends? How about a “trail” or “path” theme?
- On a canoe trip? Maybe about Jesus being “living water” or “purity.”
- Center your theme around your camp meals. Talk about how Jesus taught us to ask the Father for our daily bread, or God’s provision of manna in the wilderness.
- Will you be in a wilderness area? You could go with Bible stories about when the Lord called His people into the wilderness for times with Him.
- Will these be family camping trips with young children? Kids love the simple things in nature like flowers, rocks, butterflies and water. There are so many important lessons we all can learn by tying in some of the Biblical pictures of nature. Things like trees rooted by streams of water, the beauty of the flowers of the field and how God cares for the sparrows.
- If you’ll stay in a tent, another ideal theme with children is tents in the Bible. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families all lived in tents. And there’s God’s tent, the tabernacle.
The people going on your camping trip will help determine the theme if you choose to go in that direction. You can gear your theme toward young children or active middle schoolers, teens or 20-somethings.
Multi-generational camping trips can be the best ever. You could pull a million stories from the Bible about one generation impacting another.
Maybe you’d like a theme on the fruits of the Spirit. Or choose to read through one of the short epistles together, talking about it along the way. You could pick several Psalms ahead of time that include things in nature like trees, mountains and rivers.
See what I mean? Pretty much endless possibilities.
Write Your Own or Use Already Published Devotions
If you decide on a very specific theme, you may choose to write your own devotionals so you can customize them. They can target your particular trip exactly.
Some will want to write them out completely, and others may just just down a few points and improvise. Totally suit your personality.
Or maybe that’s way too much work…or you don’t need anything that specific. There are plenty of amazing devotional books out there, already printed and published, that would work just fine. You might even already own at least one of them.
If you’re not much of a theme lover or a planner—or simply want the easiest method—bring along a 365-day devotional book and do the daily readings for each calendar day of your trip. You can’t get much easier than that.
And the word of God—the Bible—is always powerful. You can’t go wrong reading the Word.
Decide on the When and How
Like at home, we can have the best intentions of having a daily time with God and just never get around to it. If you truly want to make sure these devos happen on your camping trips, you’ll want to be intentional about it.
For starters, when is a good time to do them? In the morning before breakfast? In the evening around the campfire? At lunch break while you’re out on a hike or at a portage?
For groups of older kids and adults, nighttime devos could be super cool, especially if the night sky is really showing off the stars.
Depending on the makeup of your group and the intention of your trip: will you encourage individual devos first, then come together as a group?
Or start with the group and then split off for some private time with Jesus?
If you have young children, that decision is pretty much made for you. But with everyone else, there are quite a few different ways you could go about this.
Will you include praying together? Or a worship time singing songs everyone will know?
Some of it will depend on where you’re camping. A popular campground during the height of the season may have way too many distractions to keep young children (and even adults!) focused on your devos.
So maybe do them inside your tent or camper before you start your day. Or maybe on a break next to a waterfall while hiking, away from the bustle of the campground.
Other things we commonly encounter while camping can be distractions too—like biting bugs or not-so-good weather. They can impact how and when you opt for your devo time. (It’s not much fun having a devo time outside in the evening if that’s when all the mosquitoes are out biting everyone!)
Who Will Lead the Devos Each Day?
If it’s a family of Mom, Dad and little ones on a camping trip together, Mom and/or Dad will lead the devos. Once kids know how to read, though, they’ll get more out of these days of devotions if they can participate by sharing in the reading.
Maybe you’re a youth leader camping with a few of your youth group kids. You can assign a different kid to lead the devos each day, or ask for volunteers to lead them. Some would think it’s fun and others would think it’s terrifying—but camping’s pretty chill so it’s a great time to practice.
I was on a 4-day canoe trip recently and my co-leader assigned each trip member a day to lead devos. There was no set plan—each woman could choose what she wanted to focus on. We did them after dinner so many of them brought in some of the things we had experienced on trail that day—both the good and the bad.
That kind of format works well for groups of adults.
Whichever you do—themed or not-themed, customized or already published—it’s most meaningful when you make room for questions and conversation about what’s being read.
You could have a few questions prepared, or just talk about what the members of your group bring up. It can be a great time together digging into each devo and the scriptures presented, and sharing personal stories.
Example of an Outdoor-Themed Devotional
Our devotional book Heaven and Nature Sing was written by and for outdoor and nature lovers. So we think it’s the perfect companion for your camping trips, especially if your trip mates are high school age or above.
(And they’re easily adaptable for younger kids!)
Each of the 365 daily devotions includes suggested scriptures to read to dig deeper into that day’s topic. Some of the authors also include a few questions to help process the topic.
Here’s an example of a devo that’s ideal to use on your next camping trip…
River Water is Only as Pure as What’s In It
(This is the May 2nd devo from Heaven and Nature Sing)
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Is water safe to drink from a mountain stream? A northwoods lake?
We’ve dipped our cup off the side of our canoe in the large Boundary Waters lakes and drank. My son was high in the Bighorn mountains and filled his water bottle from the alpine creek flowing by their campsite.
The water looks so pure and clean—and tastes wonderful. And so far we haven’t had any issues from it.
But I know people who’ve drank from those pure-looking waters and been very sorry afterward. Parasites like giardia are invisible to the human eye but can cause months of digestive problems if they sneak in.
There are several good brands of water filters we can bring into the backcountry with us to keep those nasties out of our system. We can take our chances…or we can use a good filter to make sure the water we drink is pure and safe.
Our culture is a big fan of “follow your heart.” But here in Proverbs, and elsewhere in the Bible, there are red flags about that. Before we can “follow our heart” we have to know our heart is leading us in the right direction!
Our “heart”—our mind, will, feelings—doesn’t always lead us into truth. That’s why this is so important: “Keep your heart with all diligence…” Guard it. Put a reliable filter on it. “…for out of it is the wellspring of life.”
The things in your heart affect all you are and do.
The spring or lake or creek is only as pure as what’s in it. Are there pollutants? Are there parasites? What’s there that we can’t see? We’d better know before we drink it!
Just so, we need to keep our heart diligently. Filter the things we allow into our mind. Filter how our feelings dictate our attitudes and actions. What source of truth are we using as the filter? For followers of Jesus, that has to be His word—the Bible.
Dig Deeper: Jeremiah 17:7-10; Matthew 15:19; Luke 12:34
For visual aids you can bring along:
- A simple microscope and look at water samples from a river or lake near your campground.
- A strainer that keeps out larger debris like sticks and leaves, but not the invisible germs.
- A quality water filter—demonstrate how to use it and talk about how well it filters out the unseen nasty things.
See what I mean? Easy-peasy.
God has FILLED the natural world around us with life lessons. And He’s filled His word, the Bible, with lessons from the natural world.
One of the best places to tie these together is when we’re out in nature on camping trips. Have fun with it!