Monday, September 14, 2015
Choosing Your Camp Experience
For us our main purpose is to help students grow in their faith. That could mean coming to know Christ as their Savior or taking that next step in their faith that will take them deeper. Figure our your purpose and goal and build from there.
Change it up. It is easy to get stuck in a rut. Something I’ve noticed this year is that our older students weren’t signing up for camp. Why? Some have summer jobs and are afraid to ask off, or don’t want to lose that money they could have earned. (have to help them see that the spiritual investment is more valuable than the $200) I think many of them had been to the same camp experience a few years in a row and were ready for something different.
When I arrived at Nags Head Church the youth had gone for a few years to a certain camp. After I did some research I realized that camp didn’t fit the camp experience I wanted our students to have. I was coming from a church that attended Fall’s Creek, a huge camp, and I wanted our church’s students to experience something similar. I discovered Student Life. So for several years we did Student Life camps, Student Life is a great camp, solid doctrinally, great worship, locations all across the US.
Nine years of doing Student Life and then we decided to go do our own camp. So we loaded the students in vans and drove to a huge log cabin that slept 50 in the Smokey Mountains of TN. The next year we rented a camp up in the Shenandoah Valley of Va. Doing our own camp was a good change but it was very labor intensive and required several adult volunteers to use their vacation time to help at camp.
After a couple years of doing our own camp I got a call from Matt Thomas at Camp Cale. Matt was the new camp director and his desire was to see church youth groups to come together to camp. For a long time Camp Cale has existed and the focus has been on individuals coming to camp on their own. Matt desire to see churches grasp the impact that coming as a youth group to camp can have. I told Matt we would give Cale a shot but they only had one shot to make it right. Now we have gone to Cale for three years as a youth group.
This summer after realizing our upperclassman weren’t going to camp I quickly put together a 3 day retreat for upperclassman. The goal was to build some unity and cast vision for the coming school year of building leadership among our students and moving toward student led youth ministry. This mini camp accomplished that goal and purpose.
So next summer we are changing it up. We will take our 7th through 9th graders to Camp Cale and we will do a camp trip for our upperclassman. Trying something new and different to see how it works in hopes that this new approach will help keep the older students involved in taking advantage of the camp experience each summer and give the younger students something to look forward to.
Don’t be afraid to change it up. Some feathers might get ruffled but our needs for our youth ministry change from year to year which means the way we do youth ministry will need to change as well.
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