Ahhh, summer camp. Even as an adult, it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. I look forward to serving on staff with some seriously beautiful people, leading awesome students into the presence of God and serving with them in his name. For our campers, all roads lead to camp. They spend all year looking forward to that one week and talking about their favorite memories from the previous summer.
The problem with summer camp? It doesn’t quite compare to real life. Coming down from that Jesus high can be a bummer. We have developed a few ways to help our students transition back into life as painlessly as possible.
1. Try to include something in the camp study that sets them up for life after camp.
Last year, for example, our student journal included an extra devotion for them to use at home called “After the glow wears off” that was totally focused on staying connected to God even after the camp experience has faded.
2. Seek ways to incorporate camp into weekly youth worship meetings.
We sit down with our student leaders right after camp and make a list of what the high points of the week were for them. Usually, their favorite things revolve around worship, so we incorporate the songs and other worship elements that spoke to them during camp. Sometimes, they enjoy different games, small group ideas or study themes and we try to include those ideas as well. This not only helps us extend camp beyond camp but also gives us some tools for improving what we are already doing.
3. Help students to connect with campers from other youth groups throughout the year.
We invite the other groups from camp to our yearly youth rally and other events and we attend some of their events as well. We also have a yearly winter retreat where all of the students can spend a weekend together. In addition to that, we create social media space where our camp planning committee students can connect with campers year round.
The great thing about summer camp is that it doesn’t have to be limited to just one week in the summer. It can extend throughout the entire year, and take up space in our regular meetings and in our hearts, and that sounds like a pretty good thing to me.