Apr17

10 Reasons Your Church Should Do Overnight Camp

JECentriKid overnight camps can have a significant impact in the lives of kids, adults, and even the staff who serve there. If your church doesn’t do camp at all, this can help you better understand that camp can be an important part of your summer ministry. If you’re a kids minister that’s planning camp or trying to get kids at your church signed up, these ten reasons can help you with explaining to kids — and to their parents — why they should consider going to camp.

1. Get away.

At camp, kids get out of the normal day to day routines they have. It’s healthy to change it up sometimes. Take advantage of the retreat aspect of camp. Sometimes when kids are away, kids just tend to hear things in a new way.

2. Remove distractions.

Are the cell phones, video games, homework assignments, sports team commitments making it tough to connect with kids in your ministry? At overnight camp, there’s usually not a setting for any of these things so those distractions are removed.

3. Deep engagement.

At an overnight camp you can visit over meals, walk and talk around campus, have late night chats. There are many rich opportunities to spend quality time with kids in your ministry.

4. Unique opportunities.

You can do things at camp that you just can’t do at home or at church. It isn’t often that you can get away with smearing shaving cream on adults or smashing water balloons on strangers, but camp is the place where these are normal, acceptable behavior. Because of these unique opportunities at overnight camp, you can break down barriers to relationships with kids in your ministry.

5. Fast friends.

Camp is a setting where you can build deep relationships in a short time. The fact that nobody has home-court advantage means we are all thrown into this together and have to “make it” together even if the food isn’t my favorite or the activities aren’t your strong-suit.

6. Childhood memories.

Many of us have meaningful, lasting memories from going to camps as a kid. Kids will be making memories this summer, so let’s make some of the best memories in the context of having fun with friends and talking about the things of God.

7. Learn something new.

Nobody is a “pro” at all the things you can do at camp so its a great time to get out and try something new. The environment of camp is a safe place to attempt and fail, attempt and fail, and ultimately succeed.

8. Leave your comfort zone.

Nobody that I know lives at home all the time in a bunk-house with 18 people. Nobody gets up each day and goes through a day like camp, so there are lots of things about it that push kids (and adults) out of their comfort zones. This is healthy growth for kids and can lead to great ministry opportunities.

9. Disconnect from media.

Too many kids are “connected” all the time to video games, phones and all the trappings of modern media. Use the overnight camp environment to give kids a taste of being unconnected from media. Looking at things from the “unconnected” perspective could have profound impact on how kids (and adults) approach things when they return home.

10. Learn spiritual truths.

In the week of camp, kids will learn from the adults from their church and from the camp staff.  Make no mistake, they are learning and forming associations with spiritual truths even when we aren’t in a “teaching time.” They’ll learn by the things we say, the attitudes we display, and by the way we model our own spiritual lives in front of them.

Overnight camp is such a cool experience because of the quantity and quality of the time it provides. We know that meaningful spiritual decisions and lasting relationships can form at camp, so we are hoping to see you at camp this summer.

There are many more reasons your church may want to go to overnight camp, so what other things would you add to this list? Connect with me on Twitter (@coachechols) or on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

Jeremy Echols (@coachechols) leads the @centrikid team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He met his wife Emily working camp, and their daughter #BabyMadison was born in 2011.