Summer camp is one of my favorite events of the year. I’ve watched God do some amazing things at camp in the lives of students, and even in the lives of leaders. I’ve watched cabin leaders become small group leaders, weekend leaders and even one on one mentors to students. I’ve seen students go from being invited to camp, to joining a life group, to serving and even going on a mission trip. It’s crazy to think that so much can happen in a week, but it does without fail.
Well, we always want to help our leaders have the best experience at camp possible. So here are a few things I’ve shared with our leaders over the years, to enhance their overall experience as a leader at camp.
Be all in – Know that God wants to use you to change/encourage/motivate/inspire/challenge a student that week. You need to be all in on building relationships that last post camp. That doesn’t happen without you being all in.
Have conversations – Don’t see your students free time as a time for you to retreat and get away. Use that time to grab some of your students, or even one of your students and have a conversation. Get to know the students you don’t know well and get to know your core students even better.
Set rules and be consistent – From day one you need to set some rules with your group. I would set the rules based on how I want the week to go. It may seem like sucking the fun out, but you’re actually making the week more productive. Example:
- Eating time – We all sit together and pray family style.
- Chapel time – we all sit together and you must bring your bible. Give them instructions before Chapel, what will happen after chapel. Example: Where do they meet you if you all get separated.
- Free time – Steal 20mins of their free time and do a one on one with everyone in the group.
- Cabin time – Respect each others things. etc… Make a list!!!
- Travel time – Have people sit with certain people so they can get to know each other on the way to camp.
Be a camper – Participate in what’s going on at camp. Don’t sit back and watch your students worship, worship with them. Play the games enthusiastically. Be the camper you want your students to be. Participate, participate, participate.
Attitude reflects leadership – Know that your students, for the most part, will reflect your attitude. If you are gripping and complaining about everything you don’t like about camp they will do it also. And you will annoy those who do like camp but can’t have a good time with you complaining. And you will give those who want to be negative a platform. So be positive and know that everything is not going to go right or the way you feel it should go. Just stay positive!!
Expect to be used by God – You are at camp because God has called you to serve at summer camp. He has chosen you purposefully so expect Him to use you.
Expect to Grow – Being in isolation with a group of teens for a week has the potential to make you or break you. haha Let it grow you. Allow God to transform, stretch and break your heart for what breaks his that week. This is not just an opportunity for you to be used to change a life. Your life can be changed.
Be patient – I can almost promise you something is going to go wrong. Stay focused on the big picture.
- Your room won’t be ready.
- That one kid will have already made enemies within your group before you even reach camp.
- The schedule you were given at the leader meeting will change a million times before you get to camp.
- You will have left something behind that you should’ve packed.
Remember their names – Here’s a tip if you are bad at remembering names. Be upfront about it. Share how important it is for you to know everyone’s name, then share how much you suck at remembering names. They will show you more grace, and even help you. TIP: Take the list of your students who are in your cabin, and write something unique about their look next to their name. Then study it. You will work harder, but the payoff is worth it.
Also, check out The Volunteer’s Backpocket Guide to Events and Retreats! This is another great resource to give your volunteers this summer.
Hope it helps,