It’s that time of year, camp. For the first time in 15 years, I will not be at our youth camp as youth pastor. So weird. In fact, I will not be sleeping there or eating camp food…. and shockingly I am sad. You see, Church youth camp is not just a week to get away from parents, this is a few days in a young person‘s life that can shape their destiny, bring hope to destitute situations, and show a true love that has been missing for so long….. This is the week that a young person might make the plunge… and make a relationship with Christ their own. Don’t get me wrong… Most kids don’t get saved at camp, and camp does not fix all problems… in fact it is kinda a roller coaster high in a young person’s life and much care and follow-up needs is needed in the months following camp.
Here are a few things to think about if you are one of the amazing leaders who is gearing up to lead young people at camp:
1-Pray for the kids already! Sow seeds of prayer in the specific areas of life that you know needs re-growth….
2-Speak Faith! Begin to encourage the youth, building faith in their hearts about what God is planning to do at camp. At camp: if you have a problem with something at camp. Don’t let it come out in your attitudes or talk about it with the youth. Go to the leader and discuss, but come out determined to be part of the team. IF YOU ARE NOT ADDING TO THE TEAM YOU ARE TAKING AWAY FROM IT! Speak only what is helpful for building others and camp up so that the enemy has no ground to bring division.
3-Start listening to God on their behalf. Write out scriptures that you feel God is wanting to encourage them with and give them to the young person…. with an encouraging note from you. At camp: listen in each service and intercede for the young person according to what you think should have applied to them in the message…
4-Be self-less. Camp is not the time to party with your counselor friends… It’s the time to love on young people! So plan accordingly.
5-Don’t just pack for yourself. Think fun, bring fun things that will help you connect with the young person. but, Don’t be stupid and go all prank happy… You will probably cause more trouble than fun. :o)
6-Prepare Your heart. Make sure your relationship with God is strong. At camp we get the real you. And the real young person. eventually what is on the inside is gonna come out. Make sure you are not hiding anything that will bring your name and hypocrite up together or it will come to the surface and disqualify you.
7- drama happens. Also understand that what is in the heart of the young person will likely come out too… thus drama. Just don’t be a part of it, be the solution to it. Understand that change is a process…. Our job is to love on them, and help them get closer to Jesus- not fix them in one week.
8-Listen to them.
9-Pray continuously during camp for them… and for hearts to be opened in a new way.
What if, while away at camp, that young person had a “growing up in God” moment that showed them who God really is in their own life…. As much as camp is for fun, it is even more for a Personal touch from God. For whatever reason, when many the distractions of life are taken away and a young person is placed in an environment aimed right at them… and at drawing them closer to a God who has destiny and purpose planned for their lives, I’m telling you, God begins a work that will produce great seed. How amazing it is to see any young person accept Jesus as their lord and Savior, and how much more amazing when it is no longer because they were raised in church, or followed a friend to church that they “do church”. It’s like growing up in God… an Adult-re-dedication to serve God with their lives, words, motives, purity.
Many times I am asked why a young person who has been in church their whole lives ends up getting pregnant or walking away from God. I really believe that one main reason youth mess up or walk away is that they never decided for themselves as an, adult in the making ,that they would serve God…. they just kept doing what they always did. They know all the bible stories and even right from wrong… but somewhere along the way of growing up in life they missed the growing up in God part. It became a religion instead of a relationship. Rules instead of a heart reliant upon God’s grace for each day. How sad to think that there are actually many adults walking around who also have never grown up in God. Peter Pan Christianity. lol. I wish that all those who were saved at a young age would answer this call to make a personal decision to live for Christ as an adult with a grown up Christianity way of thinking.
My parents had me wait to be baptized until after I was 16 so I could make the decision on my own whether or not I was choosing to live for Christ. This marked my life and I truly did choose Jesus, it was a very different thing to get up in front of all my friends and make a declaration at 17 by being baptized. I have let my daughter who is nine be baptized already… but I fully intend to ask her to do it again after the age of 16 when she is ready to declare as an adult that she will serve the Lord. I think many young people should be re-baptized just to declare it as an adult decision…. could be powerful.
So Parents, counselors, youth pastors listen to me, Our youth need to encounter Jesus, and make a real decision to follow with their lifestyle. Don’t just pray for an amazing camp experience, but pray for an unquenchable fire that cannot be put out to kindle and catch aflame! We don’t want to look back and remember just how great camp was, but that it was a time when growth began and continued six months down the road.
I”m praying for you! Camp is gonna be AMAZING!