I took a brief moment and counted the camps that I have been a part of leading in the past 17 years of ministry. If the 53 name badges from camps dangling from an oversize carabiner are any indication, I’ve been a part of a few. And what I know is that there are many youth pastors/directors/leaders out there that have been part of way more. However, I feel that I can speak a bit of light into the subject. In my last post, 3 Tips for Doing Your Own Summer Camp, I gave tips a few insights on camps making an impact on students. These tips are for being at camp as the leader.
It is important for your students and the leaders around you that as the leader you enjoy yourself and you enjoy the time you have with them.
Being the leader can be exhausting. There is so much do to, so much that has to happen, so much that only you as the leader know. For mid-size and smaller churches, a lot of the time, the leader has to do everything. At larger churches, even if the leader has done a good job delegating, there is still a seemingly overwhelming responsibility on the leaders shoulders. Either way there is a constant barrage questions. “Where do you want this?” “Where are we doing that?” “Where is the equipment?” “That broke, what do you want us to do?” And if it rains!!!???!!!
It is important for your students and the leaders around you that as the leader you enjoy yourself and you enjoy the time you have with them. With that though, here are 3 tips to think about while at camp.
3 Tips While At Camp
Relationships Are Everything At Camp
Do all your preparations before you go. Let me repeat… finish all your preparations BEFORE YOU GO! Don’t finish talks, small group material, or quiet time material while at camp. As mobile as we have become with all our “iStuff”, it is tempting to just finish material or polish it up when you get to camp. Your students are around you, make sure you are around them. Make sure you have scheduled when you will do a game and make sure you have everything you need to play a game, don’t wait and have to make a “quick” run into town to a store. That’s just time away from students.
When you plan events, make sure they are big, loud and fun; so much so that kids don’t what to do anything else. If your plans are the best thing on the planet next to sliced bread and selfies, then you will earn your students attention. This earned attention extends out to your other leaders. Remember, relationships are everything at camp. Relationships with you and relationships with Christ.
If your plans are the best thing on the planet next to sliced bread and selfies, then you will ear your students attention.
Make sure that you are setting your leaders in places to form relationships. Have your leaders lead teams, teach small groups, assign them to different areas during any free time, and make sure they are eating with students not other leaders. You want to set them up for a successful ministry and time at camp. Your leaders have given up time, usually in the form of not getting paid or vacation time, set them up for a win. As much as camp can changes lives of the students, your leaders lives can change forever if given the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the life of the students around them. This is why relationships are everything.
Fun deepens and strengthens relationships in a way like nothing else can. A long time ago I learned a twist to a common saying. For students the saying, “People don’t care what you have to say until they know you care.”, becomes, “Students don’t care what you have to say until they know you will play.” Watch a high school linebacker walls fall down when you spear him from the side. Or watch a baseball player respond to you after you tell him that you want to try to hit his curve ball. Watch a kid who usually sits off in a corner open up when you involve them and make them a hero in the middle of a game.
If your students are a big deal to you, be a big deal to them.
Or sit around an shoot the breeze and talk video games with a group of gamers. Playing and having fun opens up more doors into students lives than anything I have ever done. So don’t sit around and watch everyone have fun, get in the middle of it. If your students are a big deal to you, be a big deal to them. Did I mention relationships are a big deal.
Pray! Pray! Pray!
Please be the first one up in the mornings and the last one to go to sleep. I know you are exhausted at camp, but this is important. If you are to be investing in your students while you are there and active when they are awake, they need your prayers when they are asleep. Get up in the morning and walk the camp praying for each and every face there. Then as they drift off to sleep walk circles around praying and pleading for them. There really is so much the can go wrong at camp and so much that God can do. Prayer and faith is our only defense and offense in many of those areas.
I really would love to help you with your camp or event. Please contact me and let’s dream together about what can be done to engage students with the gospel of Jesus.
Oh yeah, what if it does rains? There is always Plan B. What is Plan B? Plan A in the rain. Have fun!
© Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014