This summer was a new adventure for us as we launched our very first Summit Student Ministry Summer Camp (Elevate Summer Camp.) It was exhausting, fun, challenging, stretching, stressful, and all the other things you can dream about with planning your own camp. Along the way, I learned a lot about planning a camp, and if you’re considering doing your own, let me throw out some words of wisdom for you.
- What’s the point? If you don’t have a vision for doing your own camp, something that is driving you and your energies to do this thing in house, don’t do it. I know plenty of really good camps I can recommend that love the local church, love students, and do an excellent job with their content.
- Get Church Buy-In: Do you have a media department? Ask them to come and do some filming at camp. How about asking your pastor to come and speak at a session. Put in your budget somewhere for your staff to come and stay the night at camp, enjoy a meal, worship with the students, and see the vision in action. This is big.
- Don’t Re-Invent the wheel: In all seriousness, don’t try and do this thing from scratch, especially the first crack at it. You may have guys in your network that have done their own camps, and you need to tap into them for resources. I was incredibly thankful for some great friends who have been doing camps for years that gave me insight, resources, planning materials, etc. Make the big ask, and get some good resources from your trusted friends in ministry.
- Know that you’ll make mistakes: We made some mistakes this year at our camp, some of them were very small, others were fairly large. You’ll always overlook something at your first camp.
- Keep a notebook handy: You know those mistakes we just talked about? This notebook is to make sure those things don’t happen again next year. Evernote was my best friend at camp. I have at least 2-3 pages of notes on things to do better next year, things we did great this year, people to encourage, etc..
- Evaluate: We actually haven’t done this yet as a team, but it’s on the calendar and I’m looking forward to the feedback from my team on ways to keep building on what God has started and things to destroy (things that we should never do again!)
- Plan to celebrate: Set up a time for your team to decompress after camp and to celebrate what God did at camp, and to tell them a huge thank you for all their hard work.
- Call a friend you know who runs a camp: Seriously, if you’ve been going to a camp for a while, make sure you call that friend up tell them that you love them, appreciate them, and are thankful for all their hard work they’ve done for you in the past and for other churches! You’ll never know how much they did for you until you do it yourself. Sound familiar? All you moms and dads out there….you’re parents are expecting that same call!