We all know or at least have seen the spiritual euphoria after returning from summer camp. We call it the “camp high” it’s not a bad thing but a result of what happens to most students who spend a week with their friends, away from most distractions, having fun, being challenged by dynamic speakers, and joining in engaging worship. I mean who wouldn’t feel good and close to God after that. But all-mountain top experiences fade over time. Here are 10 quick tips to help you as a youth worker to follow up with your group and create momentum with the “camp high”.
ONE – BE OKAY IF YOUR EXPECTATIONS WERE NOT MET
The first tip is a reminder not to put so much pressure on yourself if your feelings don’t match the feelings of your students. If you’ve gone to camp 10+ years you start hearing the same messages, singing the same songs, playing the same games. Even hearing the same testimonies on “cry night”. You might not be going away with the camp high like some of your students but don’t throw the momentum away just because you aren’t “feeling it” this year. Remember that many of your students are experiencing this for the first time or God moved in a big way in some of your students and follow-up isn’t about you, it’s about them and God. So be okay with talking about camp even if you personally didn’t have a good experience or your expectations were not met because you can now compare it to a decade of camps.
TWO – PRAY FOR REVIVAL
“You should be praying harder after camp than before camp…” That was a challenge to me many years ago that I only recently began to understand. I would ask everyone I know to pray for students leading up to camp and I would be praying hard too. But once camp is over I just moved on to the next event. I didn’t pray for momentum after camp, I never prayed for revival. And in case you don’t know a revival is as simple as “a movement of God.” We should all be praying for a revival, but after camp, we don’t realize that maybe we just experienced one because we’re too busy planning the next event. So keep praying as you did leading up to camp!
THREE – HOST A COFFEE HOUSE TO RECAP
This is my go-to event. The next time we meet as a regular youth group we bring in some coffee or Italian sodas (check them out here) and have students who went to camp get on stage to share their stories and have a Q and A with the students who didn’t. We share pictures, show a recap video, and just celebrate camp.
FOUR – POST DEVOS ON INSTAGRAM
Plan ahead of time (if you know the theme, messages, etc.) and try to send out daily devos on your social media following up with camp. This helps keep the focus on growing their faith in God and studying His word. You can write them yourself or purchase a set from downloadyouthministry.com.
FIVE – STUDENTS SHARE TO THE CHURCH ON SUNDAY MORNING
Take some time and ask a few well-spoken, and confident students to share on a Sunday morning to your whole church. Maybe even make a whole service out of it with your student worship band playing some of the camp songs and messages even. Take the time to also thank the church for praying and supporting you and the students at camp. Don’t skip this opportunity if it’s given to you because it benefits everyone involved!
SIX – RECORD TESTIMONY VIDEOS AND RECAP VIDEO
One of the best ways to bridge the years together is by showing a recap video of camp from the year before. We do it every year leading up to camp the next year so students who went to camp can be reminded of a memory and students who didn’t go to camp can see what it’s like. Add testimonies from students in the video or with separate videos as both recaps and promotional tools.
SEVEN – HAVE STUDENTS WRITE STORIES ON THE WAY HOME
Taken from my fellow youth worker DJ Toelle – Pass out pens and paper with each student’s name on them with an opening question, “I experienced God at camp this year by…” and have them write down all the ways they enjoyed camp and what they learned while there. The key to this tip is to do it while it’s fresh in their minds by giving it to them on their way home from camp and collecting the papers before they leave (like when you stop for a meal). If they have to turn it in like homework you will never get them back.
EIGHT – PLAY A GAME WITH FUNNY CAMP PICTURES
I always enjoy throwing up goofy pictures and doing a “caption contest” with the best pictures as a team game. I would read off what each team wrote for their caption and then we would vote for the funniest or best one (they cannot vote for themselves). You could also do this on social media if you are feeling brave… but be aware of inappropriate comments if you’re not careful. Some people take humor too far.
NINE – CREATE A MEMORY ALTER FOR STUDENTS TO ADD TO
In the Old Testament, humans made alters to God when they wanted to remember what God did. I used a physical alter by giving out smooth stones to everyone to write one word that describes their camp experience and then we collected it in a jar. I have had picture collages with everyone. And I even worked at a church once that added a group picture, t-shirt, and other knick-knacks to a wall in their room every year after camp. They would make up cards like description plates for a stick, or pop can that shares the story of why it’s on the wall that year. It was really cool to add to it every year.
TEN – CREATE A PLAYLIST OF ALL THE SONGS YOU HEARD AT CAMP
Spotify is an amazing youth ministry tool. We have now started creating “camp jams” playlist every year and sharing the playlist with everyone who went to camp. It was full of the worship songs we sang, funny songs we enjoyed on the way to camp, or any other song that created a memory. People kept adding to it and listening to it for the rest of the year. Until the next camp came and we created a new list.
What other tips do you have that could be added to this list?