How to run a camp…

January 4, 2010

I’ve been sorting through old files on my computer and came across this one.  I wrote it 4 years ago but someone out there in kidmin land might find it useful.

What’s the point…

There’s no point running a camp just because you can or because you always have.  Before you start, get a clear vision of why you are running the camp so you have something to plan towards.

Here are some possible reasons…

  • Group building: for the kids in you ministry to grow as a community
  • God time: when we are away from our every day life, it’s easier to open our hearts to God, and let Him work in them
  • Teaching: you want to spend some time focusing on a specific topic
  • Personal growth: you want to give kids the chance to step outside their comfort zone, and grow confidence and strength in their relationship with God

No doubt there will be more then one reason, but keep it in mind, and remind your team of the vision as you plan.  Measure everything you plan against the purpose of the camp.  Some activities might be fun or meaningful, but will they help see the vision of the camp work out?

Plan

Obviously you will spend a lot of time doing this in the months and weeks leading up to camp.  Remember this: this camp is GOD’S IDEA!  No matter what you plan, be willing to go with the flow, change things around, miss things out if one activity takes longer, or you feel God prompting you to do something else.  It’s not the end of the world if you miss a really great activity, there will always be another camp.  It is important to not hurry a good thing, so relax, and go with the flow…

However, a well thought through plan is essential! Here are some things to think about…

  • Meal times and Snack times: Make sure they aren’t too far apart!  Kids get hungry!
  • Teaching/worship/prayer times: if this is the reason for your camp, then plan these first, and plan other activities to lead up to them, and to prepare kids for them.
  • Small Group times: give kids the chance to reflect on what has been happening, ask questions, do devotions etc.
  • Games: fill in games as well as big games: can they work into your theme? How are they building towards your vision for camp?
  • Art/other activities: allow long enough for these so they are not rushed.  Once again, are the purposed to build into the theme and vision for the camp?
  • Bed time: What time?  All kids at once?

Bed Time

Ahh, the best time of day is when the leaders can relax, enjoy a hot chocolate stuffed with marshmallows and reflect on the day when all the kids are asleep… but how do we get them asleep?

Some things to consider…

  • Some kids will get homesick at this time
  • Some will crash as soon as they hit the sack, some will not!
  • If you’ve got a range of ages do you get them all to bed at one time?

Here are a few tested and tried ideas…

  • Read a bed time story and/or pray, either as a whole cabin or a leader can pray for each one individually.
  • If they are unsettled, get a leader to sit inside the door for 20min while they quiet down.   If they all decide they need to go to the loo, let them go one at a time!
  • Have a video playing for those who just arnt buying into the sleep idea.

Safety at camp

Two things that need to be in place on paper before camp…

  • RAMS form, outlining the possible things that could go wrong that will cause harm to kids and leaders, what you will do to prevent them, and what you will do if it happens.
  • Code of conduct.  You can adopt the one you use for your children’s ministry and make it specific to the camp situation.  Every adult should sign a copy to show they understand it and agree to it.

File copies of these at church, and have one on site.

Things to remember…

  • First Aider on site and available at all times
  • At least one first aid kit.  Perhaps keep it in the kitchen.
  • Set clear boundaries: outside and inside around equipment
  • Kitchen safety: covered shoes on at all times, no children under 12 in kitchen area.

Leaders Briefing

Code of Conduct

RAMS

Useful things to take that sometimes slip off the radar…

  • String
  • Masking tape (useful for defining boundaries on floor around equipment, and it comes off easily)
  • Kids Bible: useful for bed times
  • Staple gun and staples!
  • Plenty of scrap paper!
  • Toilet paper (just in case you forgot!)
  • Extra bedding
  • SUNSCREEN!
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