Just finished sending parents the important camp paperwork and information. We are closing in on camp, just a few weeks away. We do Student Life Camp. For several years now we have been attending SL and have had nothing but great experiences. The SL staff is always so helpful and supportive.
My thoughts on summer camp:
1. We don't plan our own camp for a several reasons:
a. We don't have enough staff
b. We don't have enough cash
c. We couldn't pull off a camp that is higher quality than SL
d. Someone else is much better at camp planning than I am.
e. There is no way we could have a camp pastor like David Nasser at our little camp if we did our own.
f. Planning our own camp would eat up a major chunk of time in my calendar and pull me away from the things I'm better at.
g. At SL our students get to build relationships with other students from other youth groups and be teamed up with total strangers to do recreation and small group Bible study during the week.
2. Choose a camp ministry that is solid doctrinally and has a fantastic track record. SL staff will literally pray for your students by name during the week of camp as you share prayer request with them.
3. Choose a camp location that is different than the location where your students live.
a. Line up transportation. We take our church van and rent a second van.
b. Line up drivers.
c. Line up other adults you will need to go along with you to camp. (I'm amazed when I hear a pastor share at camp that he alone brought a bunch of students with no other adults along to help)
4. Figure in the expense of camp as you plan out your yearly calendar of events to help ease the pocketbook pain of parents. SL's prices depend on where you are going and if you are doing the mission or recreation track. We charge the students $280.00. Much of this expense is offset if the students help with fundraising. We also have individuals who give to the scholarship fund.
5. Announce the date as soon as you know the date. We have known for a year when we would be at camp. That date has been publicized many times during the last year. I will be deciding the camp dates for next year today.
6. Set the date for camp registration months before the actual camp date. Designate a cut off date and stick with it. We have a non-refundable deposit to secure a student's spot for camp.
7. Get your paperwork such as medical releases, wavers, etc. from parents in advance of departure date. This guarantees you will have those necessary forms in hand before leaving on your trip. We've had a few trips delayed because, "I forgot my release form" and I like leaving on time. (and returning on time)
8. Have a pre-camp meeting that is required for campers and one parent.
a. Parents turn in releases at this meeting.
b. Have a notary on hand if possible to notarize forms
c. Go over rules and expectations. Let parents know that if a camper is a disciplinary problem that can't be handled at camp that they will have to come immediately to the camp and pick up their kid or pay the bus fare for a greyhound trip home.
d. Make sure everyone has the "what to pack" list
e. Answer questions
9. Don't forget the first aid kit and have another adult responsible for taking care of any prescription drugs a students might need.
10. Know the location of the local hospital and how to get there.
11. Get your church to pray for your group as you are gone. We have our church partners send e-mails to the campers while they are at camp. We also set up a blog so parents and the church can follow us while we are at camp.
I love summer camp because it is an opportunity to pull students out of their everyday life and their usual routine and place them in an atmosphere that is geared to influence students to draw closer to Jesus Christ.
If your group is going to camp this summer I hope you have a fantastic experience and that your student's lives are changed.