Summer is a wonderful thing. Birds sing louder, flowers bloom brighter, and the alarm clock rings later. Summer is also a time when students can take a break from the daily grind of their own crazy-busy lives and give extra attention to their hearts and their faith at summer camp. What if we took advantage of this season to give a little extra attention to your parent ministry as well? And what if we told you there’s no need to host a meeting to get good work done?!
Check out the following ways you can help families make the most out of camp this summer with these parent ministry ideas:
- Pray for your students by name. Then tell their parents. We know many of our parents are sending their students to camp hoping desperately that something will “stick.” Reach out to your parents and let them know that you are hoping something will “stick” too. Your assignment: look over your camp registration list, pray for students by name, and send parents a quick text or email letting them know. Bonus points if you ask them if there’s anything you could pray about in their lives.
- Show grace when they forget your mandatory pre-camp meeting. It happens every year. We host a concise, information-packed, answer-questions-before-they’re-even-asked meeting, and a good chunk of our parents miss it. Lots of parents will wing it, but we can count on a few parents calling or emailing in a panic, wondering what they missed! We can choose to be frustrated by our parents, or we can accept that life gets busy and they’re human too. Your assignment: Schedule an email to go out as the meeting starts with a copy of your camp packet (even though it’s already online) and your meeting notes. Bonus points if you let them know how excited you are that their students are coming to camp.
- Expect to re-communicate trip details. We understand. You’ve posted information online, you’ve emailed it out, you’ve sent a text messaging blast, and all forms of social media are inundated with all the details parents need to know about camp. You’ll still have to do more. Parents want to help their students, and they want to support you. They don’t need to know how late you’re staying up making sure all the details are just right, they just need to know if their student can bring their cell phone and how big the air mattress needs to be. Your assignment: pre-schedule camp updates to go out every few days for the two weeks leading up to camp. Bonus points if you include witty comments about the importance of deodorant.
- Post lots of updates and pictures on social media during the trip. Until we became parents, we didn’t fully appreciate the courage it takes for parents to allow their students to go on a trip with a group of adults they hardly know and talk about spiritual things that could have a lifelong impact in their lives. It helps parents feel a part of the trip if you are intentional about posting pictures and updates while the trip is going on – especially if you’re like us and you don’t allow students to being any electronics. Your assignment: pick a trusted adult (it could be a college-aged adult) to be the trip social media updater. Make it their job to post a few pictures and updates each day. Bonus points if you’re able to include every student in your group in at least one picture. Parent ministry doesn’t have to be stale!
- Send an email to parents on how to respond to their kids when they return from camp. You and your students just had an amazing week, but everyone else has continued living normal lives. Most parents want to help their students continue to process what God has done in their lives at camp, and we have a great opportunity to help make that happen. What a gift you could give your families by helping them frame conversations once camp is done. Your assignment: pre-type a mass email (like the one we’re describing above) that will go out to parents the afternoon you leave for camp; give some specific ways parents can pray for the group and for their student, and include some follow-up questions parents can ask their students after they wake up from their 30-hour post-cam nap. Bonus points if you have the budget to give parents a devotional book for their teenager to read as a post-camp assignment. If you buy 10 or more copies of Tim’s new student devotional book 24/7, email him and he’ll schedule a mid-week video call with you and your students to talk about their experience … true story!
Meeting the needs of parents can be difficult for even the most season youth worker, but summer camp season is a great time to make a difference in the lives of the families in your student and parent ministry. Bonus points if you share your ideas below.
What do you think?
– Tim and Tasha