Archive for July 10th, 2008

Youth Camp Revealed…

It’s been a few days and camp is over.  The dust has settled.  Most people have recovered from the loss of sleep.  The “hangover” is subsiding.  I’m left here with a pile of thoughts that I have been chewing on, here they are in no apparent order:


  • Camp isn’t for everyone.  Some of the youth that attended camp this year just did not enjoy it.  I’m understanding more and more that camp is not for everyone.  This gets me thinking more creatively on how we can create experiences for everyone in our ministry that help them connect with God on deeper levels.  No matter how nice it would be to have a one-size-fits-all ministry event I know that will never happen (I’m smarter than I look…)  More to come on this in the next few weeks, hands on experiences!
  • Camp is intense.  I was speaking with Foursquare’s Next Gen Director, James Craft, last night and he listed a statistic that one week of camp is the equivalent of one full year of student ministry services in the local church.  While I do acknowledge that our time at camp can be very directed and intense in ministry I also know that it can not replace the fifty-one other weeks in the calendar year.  Camp should compliment what we do throughout the year.  
  • Camp needs to be a tool for evangelism and for discipleship.  Each year we see many of the same kids attending.  Many of them have had a salvation experience early on in their camping years.  I know that there is a value in youth rededicating their lives to the Lord – I heard Gordon MacDonald one time say that he gets saved every morning in the shower – we are called to die daily to our fleshly desires and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  With that in mind the kids that come forward and recommit their lives to the Lord are doing a good thing.  This year we had many first time salvations (15).  I praise God for those lives that were transformed and reconciled in relationship with Jesus!  But I also have to look to the other 135 students who were in attendance at the camp.  How can we better equip them to live out the daily life of following Jesus?  
  • Journaling is huge!  We create custom journals each year for camp and we incorporate the Scriptures from the morning speakers into the journals in order to give the Holy Spirit a chance to massage into the lives of the youth and leaders what He wants to say to them before ever hearing a word from our morning speakers.  After journaling for 6 years now myself I fully understand the value of this daily habit and know that if each of the youth who attend camp and are journaling would continue this practice they would grow tremendously year after year.
  • Camp creates community.  Relationships happen at camp because you can not escape them.  When you want to be by yourself it is next to impossible.  Each cabin holds 6 – 8 people.  The bath houses are shared.  You can not isolate yourself at camp.  Where ever you turn you see people and they are usually jacked up on some form of sugary, caffeinated drink that gives them the ability to speak at a pace that is barely understandable.  This all sounds like a recipe for brawls and massive arguments.  Not so, year after year I have seen kids learn how to handle conflict with others, I have witnessed relationships grow and people regard others above themselves.  Each year I get to view kids growing in relationship with God and others at camp – each year I get to grow in my relationship with God and others!  Many days I don’t have the time to sit and talk with small groups of youth.  Camp creates an atmosphere where I can sit in a rocking chair on the farmers porch with a small group of kids and laugh with them, cry with them, pray with them.  Relationships grow at camp.
  • Camp brings freedom.  Many youth find freedom at camp.  They pull away from the distractions that they face in their homes and they are able to deal with some of the struggles that they have.  Camp pulls them away from the hurdles that they have to jump over in their everyday lives and gives them a chance to strengthen their walk with Jesus.  This year I was very clear in the fact that they would all be going back home to these struggles and distractions and gave them some simple ways to build quiet into their everyday lives.  We will all have tough times.  Knowing where to run during these times is too important to miss.  Again, that is why the community we surround ourselves with is so valuable.  We need each other in our lives to encourage, support, and carry us through.
  • Communication and Good Training for leaders in advance of camp is vital.  We did this very poorly this year.  We had quite a few first time leaders this year and the first night of camp when we do leader orientation is not enough time to adequately communicate the importance of the role that each leader as at camp.  We are tweaking this and making changes for the future years.  We need to do more to communicate the expectations for each leader and we can’t be afraid to turn away those who are not willing to fulfill this role.  Each year we say, “Camp is for the campers”.  If we have a leader that is attending camp with the mindset that this will be a relaxing week away from the office – we have the wrong person.  My desire for each of our leaders is that they would be connecting with the campers on deeper levels and helping them to connect with God on deeper levels.  Patience and stamina are two characteristics that are needed for each leader – the foundation of a leader must be their love for God and their passion for young people.  Warm bodies only need not apply…


Here’s the bottom line figures of this years camp:


Campers – 150
Leaders –  27
Staff – 14
Participating Churches – 12
Salvation – 15
Recommitments – 16
Baptism of the Holy Spirit – 32
Call to Full Time Ministry – 17
Commitment to seek Water Baptism in their local church – 14
I love camp and will continue leading as long as the Lord allows me to.  Each year I grow in my leadership and am so thankful for the prayers of each person who lift up the camp to God.  I am also thankful that He gives us the security in our calling to have a critical eye for everything that we do so that we can continue to improve all that we do.