Feb 24, 2011

Summer Camp...A Paradigm Shift

Ahhhh...summer camp. It's the highlight of the summer for many kids. I remember attending almost every summer growing up.

But there can be a tendency for many summer camps to turn into a "it's all about me" format. It's all about me having fun, swimming, playing games, etc. Now don't get me wrong, kids are impacted through the devos, chapel times, and relationships.

But two years ago, we had a paradigm shift in our summer camp philosophy. We discovered that the impact can be even greater if we turn the kid's attention away from themselves and toward serving those in need.  Our student ministry decided to try something radically different. Instead of going off to a camp, we decided to create a student ministry "summer camp" that centered on serving others.

There is a community about 45 minutes from our church that has many needs. Instead of going away to a camp that had pools, a chapel, ball fields, rock climbing walls, etc. we decided to take the students to serve this community for five days. The impact on the student's lives amped up beyond any traditional camp experience we had ever participated in.

After seeing the impact on student's lives, last year the KidMin jumped in as well. The result was the same, we saw tremendous growth in the lives of the kids. This will be our second year and I can't wait to see what God does. It's for Grades 4-5. We'll be doing a three day camp. Here's a big picture overview...

Day One - Preparing the kids spiritually for the service project.
Day Two - Serving in a nearby city.
Day Three - Debriefing and Follow Up / Family celebration that evening for the kids and their parents.

Yes...spiritual growth happens when kids are in a chapel or small group setting at camp...and we'll be doing that. Yes...it's great to have fun and games at camp...and we'll be dong that. But we have found that if you want to put the spiritual experience of camp on steriods then center it around serving others. Help the kids shift their focus away from themselves and toward others. When they begin "doing" what they are "hearing" something clicks and a fire is lit inside their hearts.

Posted by Dale Hudson

2 comments:

Dale - this is great and we've decided to do something different with our camp as well, though we're still fleshing it out. Can you share some more about what the kids actually do while they are serving? I would love to hear what good projects you identified that elementary kids can do safely. Thanks for sharing so much on your blog!

Love this idea. Our middle schoolers made this shift a few years ago, from a summer beach retreat, to summer mission trips. I'm happy to have them come (back) to Allendale this summer. But what a great idea for elementary kids, too!

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