The down payment has been paid for months. You are working the crowd every Sunday and every Wednesday to make sure that you fill those last three open spots. Your executive pastor is stressed about the how much the bus is going to cost. You have answered 37 questions from the mom of one 6th grade boy that happened to be covered in the information packet that your secretary sent out in February. Rooms have been assigned…and re-assigned…and re-re-assigned. Camp is ready. You are ready.
We know that. You can do this in your sleep. Over your years as a volunteer and/or student pastor, you have logged at least 1 year of that on a plastic cot (and you know why the cot is plastic). The better question is: what are you ready to see happen?
Camp, whether you do it yourself or trust one of the organizations, is a special time in the life of a student ministry. There will be relationships formed that will make or break your group’s future. You will have much more undivided time with student leaders. There are parts of a day where you can play sports or cards or ___________ with kids-just to get to know them. Your group will meet as a whole and rally around the truths that God has taught you that day.
So what should you expect?
Expect students to be transformed by God’s grace. Seeing events through the lens of Acts 17 (He has determined our exact time and place). There will be a teenage boy on your trip who needs to spend time with a Godly man because his dad is anything but that. There will be a young lady who does not feel loved or beautiful that is on a collision course with a worker, either from the camp or your church, who will tell her that she is both. Around every corner, God has a spiritual marker planted for a student to grasp, remember, and cling to when times are difficult. God has placed you, your chaperones, and the camp staff as reflections of His grace.
Expect students to be changed by God’s Word.Whether this is your personal event or you are trusting an organization, pray that students will be impacted by the truth of the Bible. Take notes on what is said from the stage and engage students in conversation about the messages. Ask them about the meaning of the lyrics they sing (or don’t sing). Seek to redeem moments with students that they may not have found to be valuable. For your students who are believers, this is teaching Biblical discipleship. For those who have not placed faith in Christ, this allows you to thread the Gospel into the everyday in hopes of seeing them drawn to Jesus.
Expect students to struggle with commitments when they get home. There is something special about seclusion. It clears our heads and helps us to refocus. Your students will make ideal commitments and attempt to put them into practice in less than ideal situations. The struggles that were addressed while away will still be an obstacle for them when they arrive home. Jesus has told us that there are many troubles in this world. Be prepared bubbles to burst and students to need you.
Expect the opportunity for discipleship. Before we ever leave for camp, it is beneficial to have follow-ups in place. What leaders do you already have who can disciple students when the decisions are made? What personalities do you see matching up? For the students who have walked away with a desire to lead-do you have a place where they can? By acting on the front side of an event, we save ourselves frantic reaction when it concludes.
Expect God to do immeasurably more than you expected. Read through Ephesians 3:15-20. God is worth the time and effort and sleeplessness and worth all of the other things that could be added to this list. He will strengthen students who are weak. Christ will save students who you thought were not saveable and call students who you found uncallable. Wisdom will be found in His Word and students will grow in the knowledge of God the Father. Christ will break ground that begins to root and ground students in love. Look at your trip with gospel eyes and respond to craziness with a gracious, sacrificial heart-because that is how Christ has met you.