– Much like church planters, camping ministry directors (either permanent site directors or week long volunteer deans) must find ways to fund their mission. Dream big about how you can engage students and help them experience the love of God through worship, serving and learning. Then, figure out ways to fund those dreams. Don’t allow the budget to narrow the opportunities. If you are the person in charge of making it happen, send out letters to churches. Send letters to friends and family and let them know what you are doing and what your vision is. Send requests and applications through the denominational chain of command. If you are able (or even if you may not be), dig into your own pockets. Do what you can to help create in powerful and memorable ways the right conditions for students to experience Christ in their midst.
– Focus on traditions – sounding contradictory to “keeping things fresh” a simple tradition can be a very inexpensive way of connecting with kids year after year. We have been to camps where there is a ritual as kids come into camp, or enter the dining hall. Maybe it’s something during the last night. Whatever it is, focus on it. Keep it going and hype it up. “As you know, here at Camp ___________, we have always ___________. For all the kids who have been here before, what do you think… should we do it again this year? There’s always a wild applause.
– Start a facebook group and get people to follow on twitter.
– Give something to students as they leave camp. It might be as simple as a piece of paper with the bible verse and a wrap up of the theme. Doesn’t have to cost much, but something as they are leaving to say, “Thanks for being here this week! We are glad you took time out of your schedule to be at camp.”
– Set high standards early in the week and then you can relax and grow with kids. Building a tall fence of discipline in the beginning can make things so much better during the week. On the contrary, being “a friend” too quickly and making the fence too low adds pressure and stress later in the week. As they say to new teachers, “don’t smile until December,” In a loving way, be firm up front and that really does allow the freedom for ministry and relationships in the long run and throughout the week of camp.
– Print t-shirts with the camp name and wear one every day.
– Get a banner for your worship space, entrance to camp or dining hall – I always get them from www.superiorbillboardimages.com.
What are some other ideas? Feel free to share them!