It may be too late for some of you, but I thought I’d post our training packet for new leaders. We go through it with all of our new leaders about a week before we go to camp. Some of the details might be specific to the camps our area goes to, and some of our own specific philosophies may be different from yours. Feel free to edit it as needed. Remember… every new leader needs to be trained before camp. I’ve had the privilege of serving as work crew boss, program, speaker, and director at many summer camps and it is obvious when people came to camp and were not prepared; usually it makes it difficult for them, their kids, and the rest of the camp, and I don’t blame them, I just wonder why they weren’t trained. Occasionally we re-train everyone in our area (taught by our experienced leaders) as a refresher. Blessings on all of your camping this summer!
For our all area leadership meeting last night we spent a lot of time worship and asking the Lord to put specific names on our heart for summer camp. We were specifically waiting for five names each. After time in prayer, waiting, then more prayer, and then searching through our phones and fb lists and events, I handed out old fashioned key tags. On the front side (the part you can see), we wrote the name of our camp (Woodleaf for our YL trip, Lost Canyon for our WL trip). But, then on the back we wrote the five names of people we are praying for and asking to come to camp (this is hidden and can’t be seen). This will be a reminder for us every time we grab our keys. As a group we lifted up each name in prayer and were reminded about the significance of salvation. I’m looking forward to a leader meeting after our camps this summer to review our key tags and to see what the Lord has done.
I’m going to speak a bit candidly… There was a time in my neck of the woods where there were not enough spots at summer camp for everyone who wanted to go. This meshed nicely with the purpose and intent of YL camp, to introduce people to Jesus (and help them grow in their faith). There are lots of good reasons why kids who have already heard the gospel at camp may need to go back, and there are lots of good reasons why this is not a good idea, but when there simply are not enough spots, the situation is simple: you better have a good reason to go again. This may have included a leader vouching for a specific kid, a challenge thrown down by the leader such as bringing a certain number of kids to camp who have never been to camp, the student going as a junior leader, etc. Then there seemed to be a change, either there were empty beds at camp or weeks added to YL camps that were not filled, and/or, due to the economy, there were not as many kids who could afford camp (or could be fundraised for to go to camp), and there were now more spots available at camp. Also adding to the equation was the growth of Wyldlife.
All of this adds up to a story that I can tell you. Lots of times over the years I have been on the ropes course helping kids. One of the questions I ask pretty much every kid is, “have you ever been on a ropes course before?”, usually followed up by, “have you been to Wyldlife/Young Life camp before?” Last summer I was doing this at a Wyldlife camp and there were quite a few kids who would say, “This is my third time to Wyldlife summer camp, and I’ve been to all the weekend camps too, so this is my sixth time here.” Sometimes leaders were bringing their 5th graders to camp too. I’m sure this is not news to anyone who has been around for a while, and it is not only a WL issue, it continues on up to YL. On the other hand I have received a memo from another division because I was 1% over their second timer policy at a recent summer camp.
Summer camp is right around the corner! Here are a couple things that might be helpful:
I also got a lot of positive feedback from leaders and spouses alike on this great post from my wife:
Also, each summer I try to keep my eyes open for more camp unity outfit ideas. Here are some from the past.
Here are a couple others you can try:
1. Seven Dwarfs
2. Nurses (who brought suckers to hand out too)
Over the summer I normally try to post a couple things that I learned over the previous school year. If you have anything you learned from last year that you would like to tell me about, send it my way smcgever (at) pv dot younglife dot org
Over the years I have noticed a trend with the clubs in our area, the ones that have the most cash deposits in early always bring the most people to camp. Now I don’t believe “having a lot of people at camp” is the holy grail of YL work, and in all honesty it can become an unhealthy idol in our view of our ministry. Yet, I’m sure we can all agree that wanting lots of kids to go to camp is a healthy goal for our work. On the flip side, some of our clubs only make the push to collect actual money a few days before camp. These clubs always have lower numbers of kids at camp.
This year we tried something that I’m sure many of you already do, we gave an incentive to get the deposit in early. For our YL trip we matched up to $50 of a deposit that was in by April 15th. The deposit from the kids couldn’t be a fundraiser, it had to be actual money.
There was an important reason behind this. When you need actual money, parents usually have to get involved. So many times I’ve seen a kid be a part of several fundraisers, sometimes even earning a significant amount of money, but they don’t go to camp. Usually the culprit is they had none of their own money deposited. They liked hanging out at the fundraisers, maybe did some on their own, but they never had an actual sit-down talk with their parents to ask for the money. This happens less with junior high students since the parents are more in the loop, but this is common with high school students who may be pretty independent, until they need a few hundred dollars.
Our schools that normally bring a lot of kids to camp improved their numbers a little bit, but our schools with historically low numbers did significantly better with this approach.
Do you require a deposit by a certain date? Have you ever matched their money to incentivize signs-ups?
While I’ve been the one going to camp as a leader and leaving our son with his grandparents for the week, more often over the past few years, I’ve been at home with the kids while Sean takes kids to camp. It can be a long week parenting solo…for me and for our kids who miss their daddy! Here’s some ideas to help make it through the week:
For the parent leading at camp…
- Pray for your kids daily. I mean your own children; I’m sure you will be praying for your club kids while you’re at camp 🙂 And pray for your spouse, or whoever is watching them while you are away! They will all need it.
- Call when you can. I know it is hard to find time, especially in the first few days when the camp schedule is packed. Also, it’s hard to find a time and place to use your cell phone when campers aren’t around to get angry because you still have your phone. But they need to hear your voice. Also, people will ask your spouse how things are going at camp and it is great to be able to give them an update!
- If you can’t call when your kids are awake, leave a voice mail that they can listen to the next day. Our kids will listen to the messages from daddy over and over when they miss him. It helps them to feel loved, remembered, and connected.
Tradition at most YL camps is to have a “war room” room meeting in the morning. Usually this consists of a short devotional and prayer (10-20 minutes), then there is a review of the daily schedule and details with the assignment team, camp guest services and maybe a few more people.
Here are some popular re-posts that might help with your camp prep…
Camp unity outfits
For decades in our efforts to reach a world of kids Young Life has connected with high school kids in our traditional Young Life clubs. “In the past few decades junior high students have been reached with Wyldlife, kids with disabilities have come to love Capernaum Young Life, teen moms have found a safe haven with YoungLives, and in our commitment to reach every kid, many of us have applauded Young Life’s newest venture, Wyldlives”, says the newly appointed Western Division Wyldlives champion Troy Gray, current Area Director in Tempe, Arizona. Read the rest of this entry »
In our YL region we do a lot of weekend camps. I remember back in the day I used to haul up a few sound systems in a truck way early, talk the rental property people into the insane plans that we had, pushed play on the cassette or one of those new-fangled CD players (and you had to buy a CD with each song you wanted because “burning” CDs was years away), and there were no sound techs, you just did it yourself. All kinds of stuff. I can hear “You were LUCKY” lines beginning to be said from all the real program vets out there.
Anyway, though I’m in my third decade of doing program, we still do the same event almost every Saturday at weekend camps… Messy Games! It is a great event, I LOVE it. But there has to be some other awesome alternatives out there. I’ve seen a lot of things tried: scavenger hunts, amazing races, photo contests, tournaments of various kinds… But is there any great alternative or creative twist on messy games that anyone has seen?
If you have any comments, they would be greatly appreciated. A group of people are working together to try something new over the 5 or so weekend camps we have in the several weeks. We would love your input.