I have finished up a couple of weeks of summer camp now and taken notice of a few important lessons to teach would-be leaders and up-and-comers within the ministry atmosphere. Hopefully they will be helpful to you as you make your midsummer adjustments.
Sweat the small stuff.
With any function, details are always important. Attention to details cannot be overstated: whether it’s cleanliness or check-in, check-out, making sure kids are eating their lunches or cleaning up after an event: it all matters. Check your system of flows and evaluate daily what needs to be addressed in large group settings or on an individual basis. Remember you get what you inspect, not what you expect. If you are not paying attention to the details as the leader, your staff is not either! If you only have one week, remember that it’s the only week you’ve got! So make it count. If you have several weeks left, remember it’s that kid’s one and only week, so make it count!
Staff must be involved.
Church staff, counselors, parents, volunteers, whatever the capacity, if they are “attending” camp, they need to realize their leadership role. If they are “present”, they need to be present! They need to be engaged in the dialogue of the camp, they need to have spiritual conversations, they need to know camper’s names and they need to participate in the activities. Don’t let them underestimate their value to the setting nor let them detract from the program. Make sure everyone is engaged and involved. Make sure everyone knows their roles, the expectations and the proper protocol for handling crisis and situations.
It’s easy for staff to become fixated on serving campers and forget to serve one another. Reminding everyone that as followers of Christ we must serve all, all the time, can be an important lesson as the summer draws on. People can forget why they are doing what they do. Gently remind your leaders that they need to serve everyone they come across. Being sensitive to other’s needs, campers or staff, is a great lesson for staff to remember. Whether it’s a week or a whole summer, service is of utmost importance in making a camp or VBS memorable.
Saturate camp in prayer.
From everything concerning safety to spiritual lessons, be prayerful about what God is doing and desires to do in and through your camp week. As much as you can, call out people’s names in prayer throughout the day and be sensitive to teachable moments. Take time in the morning and evening to pray with your campers and make them aware of your desire for God to work in their lives. Pray for your staff and leaders as they are on the front lines of the camp week. Pray for yourself that God gives you wisdom in how to handle the success or failure of an event. Pray that God also gives you wisdom on how to handle your campers and staff with grace and love.
George Lockhart is president of Vision 2 Hear Ministries and serves on staff at New Vision Church as the missions pastor.