It’s almost time for summer camp! Steven is a leader at our junior high camp and I serve with our high school ministry. We both are so excited for camp because we’ve seen firsthand how lives can be changed during that week. We will both have an entirely new group of students this year and that has its own excitement and is a challenge as well. We don’t know these students and they don’t know us yet. If you’re a camp volunteer let me offer some quick tips here for you to help make the camp experience for students as awesome time.
1. It’s not about you. Camp week is all about the students and not the leaders. Do all you can to make the week an awesome week for students.
2. Be intentional. Make each student feel like they are the most important kid at camp. If you’re a big church this can be hard to do sometimes but with a little work on your part you can be successful. A great way is to have some one-on-one time with each one of the students in your cabin during the week.
3. Know their name! I can’t stress how important this one is. When you remember their name that shows them you care, you took the time to remember who they are. Make it a goal within the first 24 hours to know every one of your student’s names.
4. Be involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines. During recreation time get out there with them. Get dirty, get messy, whatever it takes. One of the ways to bond with them is to be one of them. Eat meals with them. In short, be a kid again.
5. Don’t be the only voice during cabin discussion times. Get them talking, use stories from your life to get the discussion going but make sure you’re not doing all of the talking. Involve all the students in a discussion, call on the quiet ones, and ask leading questions, not questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
6. Pour into students. Jesus’ way to minister was to show His love. You are His advocate at camp; let your students know you care and that they matter to you. This is the best way to make a student feel comfortable at camp. Find the quiet ones, the awkward kids, don’t spend all of your time with the “cool kids”. Make sure every student in your cabin knows you care.
7. Let students know how important they are. If you’re constantly on your cell phone or checking e-mail on a smart phone you are sending the wrong message. If you have to do either of those things, take a minute to go off where students can’t see you, do what you have to do and get back to your students. Some kids have parents who send the message that checking e-mail is more important than what their kid has to say, don’t let them think that their camp leader is the same way.
8. Pray. Pray. Pray. Start before you go to camp. Pray for camp, for the student ministry staff, the volunteers and pray for each of your students by name as soon as you get your roster. Pray every single day leading up to camp and while you’re at camp.