I’m right in the middle of kids camp. It’s going pretty good. Like I said in a previous post, it’s one of the few times I’ve taken kids to camp and simply came as a participant. When you’re used to planning and running your own camps, it’s naturally difficult to just go as an attendee. Perhaps it would be easier if the camp you decided to attend was incredibly similar to the camp you would host. The trouble is that not two camps are alike. Many camps have varying purposes. Here are a few:
- Discipleship Camp: Some camps are designed for kids who already go to church and it’s simply an opportunity for kids to continue getting what they experience on a typical weekend. Maybe the kids are taken “deeper,” but in all honesty, it doesn’t look much different than what you’d see on Sunday.
- Evangelistic Camp: Other camps are designed to see kids come to life decisions, either to commit to Christ or to recommit to following him. Kids are encouraged to invite their friends to camp.
- Blended Camp: This is a little bit of both. Opportunities are made for kids to make life decisions, but there’s also some good stuff there to help kids continue to grow in their faith.
Actually, some camps take the models above to different extremes. I think Craig Jutila, previously from Saddleback, actually made camp available only to his core leadership kids. So it was discipleship for a very specific niche of kids.
So, what is the purpose of your camp? What do you hope for the kids to get out of it? These are important questions to ask when either planning or picking a camp. When picking a camp, going to one yet expecting another can lead to a great deal of disappointment.
Here’s my take. “They” say that I only get 40 hours a year with most of my kids. But for one week of the year, I get 40 hours all at once. You know I’m going to take advantage of that opportunity. I’m big into fun… it’s got to be the coolest fun they’ve ever had at camp. I hate it when I’m at a camp that only gives kids 1 to 1.5 hours to swim. Most kids look forward to swimming the most. I typically try to book about 3 hours a day at the pool/lake. But then I go after it big time in the God stuff. My intention has always been to create an environment where kids would respond to a life-changing decision., whether it was salvation, re-commitment or something totally different. In addition, I hope to load the kids up with good “take home” application stuff… so they can go out and life the life they’ve been called to.
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I agree, with you. Camp for us is loads of relationship and fun. It is primarily a discipleship camp but we usually have a few new kids. Practical stuff in the morning Holy Spirit/Inspiration stuff at night.
For my ministry in a small church, camp is a time to give children experiences they might not normally have, a time to open their eyes to new experiences.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love camp and look forward to it every year! I look at is as a huge investment in the spiritual future of my kids. It’s a perfect time to build relationships but it also can be the time when they have no “life” distractions and can really hear from God. I have seen countless kids receive calls on their lives during camp. Some to pastor, some to missions, and some to be leaders, etc. I could talk about camp all day!!