Plan now to make your kids’ summer camp experience life-changing-before and after the fun.
Every summer churches everywhere send kids off to camp for life-altering experiences. Kids meet friends, mentors, and most important, God. But when camp is just one more thing in a long list of summer programming events, its potential as an awe-inspiring God experience may dwindle like the dying embers of a campfire.
My team and I were curious about how to improve kids’ camp experiences and maximize the potential for life-change. So we sponsored a survey of churches participating in camp and asked them to identify best practices for making camp a truly unforgettable, faith-filled experience for kids.
What we learned is that by planning far ahead and being intentional in how you approach camp before and after, your kids will get an experience far more valuable than the cost of a camp reservation. Let’s unpack these great ideas and our timeline.
Prepare Resources Camp creeps up on you exactly when a million other things are vying for your attention. Before you realize it, dates aren’t on the calendar and money isn’t saved. Plan and prepare today to build support and foster a focus on experiences-not logistics.
• People are relationship resources. Plan to attend camp with your kids, and recruit enough people from your church who’ll go so the connections kids make and confidences they gain don’t get lost when they come back home. Our survey found that one of the most effective ways to keep the camp experience alive is for campers to bring a piece of it home-in the form of their counselors!
• Money makes it happen. Finances should never prevent a child from attending camp. Camp is something that can change kids’ lives-so promote it and do whatever’s necessary to get kids there. Here’s how some churches do it.
Offer savings options. One children’s pastor encourages parents to open a “savings account” through the church in January. Parents put $5 (or another small amount) per week in the account, so by the time kids sign up for camp, the financial burden is gone or greatly lessened. This option is especially helpful for families with multiple campers and those facing financial hardship.
Award scholarships. If people in your church are willing to send kids to camp, ask them to consider funding a camp scholarship account. Offer the option to donate in a lump sum or on a weekly basis. Estimate the number of kids who’ll need financial help using the number of kids needing help the previous year and multiplying it by 20 percent. You may wish to pad this amount to purchase needed camp supplies for kids who are financially challenged as well. Then create a poster to chart the total donations weekly and hang it in a central location.
• Time: Keep it on your side. Communicate early with your church families. Give them as much information up front as possible-camp details, schedules, cost, special requirements, and so on. Emphasize the dates so parents can arrange vacations and schedules accordingly.