First priority: remember why we are taking students to camp in the first place!
Youth Camp in my church has always been a very important event! Frankly, in my own experience as a youth pastor seeing what God has done in students’ lives at camp that led me to include youth camps as one of the key events of my annual calendar. In case you have not thought about this deeply for awhile, let me share my top four reasons for “pushing” camp with my students! As a youth minister camp is:
• THE BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE LOST STUDENTS TO CHRIST: Camps provide a unique 5-day “window” in which unsaved young people can be exposed to the claims of Christ! Think of it! Where else can I get that amount of time in that kind of spiritual environment to “show” an unsaved student what it is like to be part of the eternal family of Christ? They are surrounded by His love, His people, His Word! Hey, they come for the friends, the girls and the sports and recreation, but they could leave with the best friend of all, Jesus Christ!
• MY BEST SHOT AT STRENGTHENING CORE STUDENTS: Camps provide the best opportunity to deepen the spiritual walk of my “core students.” Teens are so distracted today with so many things tugging at their busy schedule! Camp is my best shot at getting their undistracted attention for at least a week! During camp, I spend time with my campers re-enforcing their love for Christ.
• MY BEST (if not only) HOPE OF BUILDING UNITY: Camps do wonders for the unity of my student group! Only mission trips exceed the bonding effect of camp, and it is usually more costly to get ALL my students to participate in a mission trip (plus the focus is on others’ needs, not our needs) so that leaves camp as my best opportunity to spend a week building the loyalty, togetherness, and focus of my ENTIRE youth group!
• MY BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO PREPARE MY STUDENTS FOR THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR:
Camps help me focus my students both on their commitment to Christ AND on our purpose as a youth group…to glorify Christ by reaching our unsaved friends at school. It is my best time for my group to regain focus before school begins again and we are back into the heavy school-year schedule with plays, sports, clubs, etc. It is my favorite time to ask, “Okay gang, where are we going this year? What do we want Christ to do among us?”
Adapted from Roger Glidewell at Global Youth Ministry.