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.
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
• 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