Summer Camp: A Platform for Changed Lives

By Jason Mick

Summer is here, and student ministries across the country have been preparing year-round for this special week: summer camp! God moves powerfully in the lives of students at camp and, for many, camp will be a lifelong testimony highlight. Numerous students, perhaps yourself, experienced salvation and went from death to life at camp. Others awaken to their vocational calling, learn how to serve, and grow in leadership. Summer camp truly propels new beginnings and ongoing outreach within student ministries, churches and communities. We faithfully pray and expectantly work to see changed lives on a daily basis in our homes, cities, local churches, and in the lives of our students, but there is something tangibly unique about camp.

Why camp? Why designate a week, a church budget, and tons of energy toward camp? Why are summer camps a vital part of student ministry? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study showing that in one week a teen will spend:

  • 36 hours on school
  • 20 hours consuming media
  • 5 hours playing sports
  • 6 hours in the bathroom
  • And only 1 hour on their faith

These saddening statistics remind us of how distracting the world can be. The Bible says in Matthew 16:26:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

The cultural spider web aggressively vies for and consumes our students’ time, energy, hearts and minds. Desperately searching for purpose and biblical direction, drowning in insecurities and anxiety, students often can’t see past or through everything that is distracting them from clearly seeking the Lord.

We must step in, intercede in prayer, and fight to eliminate these distractions.

PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITY

There is something profound about creating an atmosphere where students can be removed from their everyday environment and clearly hear from the Lord. Year after year, when I ask students what their favorite part of camp is, the majority of the answers include reading the Bible, worship and new friendships. Of course, they enjoy the high-energy activities and junk food, but those responses illustrate the eternal shaping and significant moments they long for.

Students are starving for more of God and seeking their God-given purpose, so we must continue to provide the opportunities!

PROMOTE CAMP AS A MISSION TRIP

As you rally your student leadership together, and just before you’re about to launch camp registration, cast the mission and vision to them. In addition, look for ways to do this with your entire church and church staff, too. Get their buy-in, call them to specific prayers, allow the student leaders to speak into creative ideas and how they’re going to get others on board. You might even get students to help create a specific social media package that will speak to teenagers.

Teach your students to take initiative, and empower them to dream and creatively invite.

We know that our goal is to make disciples and hopefully witness our students “living on mission” (Matthew 28:19–20) week in and week out. We want to see them pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with their peers, make disciples, and/or invite them to midweek and weekend activities and services. Time and time again, though, they may find their invitations are being rejected. However, something different happens when a student says to a peer, “Hey, I’m going to camp. It’s going to be amazing and so much fun. I’d love for you to join me.” Camp offers an engaging and intriguing invitation that breaks down a barrier and doesn’t sound threatening, but adventurous.

We must value the mission of reaching students with the Gospel and leverage the platform of summer camp.

PASSION AND PERSISTENCE

See the mission, vision and all the possibilities. Be persistent with getting students there. You’ve promoted camp for weeks now, and you see the eternal benefit while some still don’t, or haven’t heard yet. Let me encourage you not to be discouraged if that one student—or group of students—or that one parent you continue to talk with seemingly shuts you out. Be persistent! Tirelessly communicate the value, mission and the opportunity for life-change. They may be kicking and screaming all the way, but you never know who will eventually say yes to camp, yes to Jesus, and whose life will be changed forever!

Praying with and for you as your summer camp approaches!

Jason Mick serves as Minister to Students at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Follow him on Twitter: @JASON_MICK.

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