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Why Should Summer Camp Be a Part of Your Ministry Strategy?

Why Should Summer Camp Be a Part of Your Ministry Strategy?

A few years ago I read a blog where someone proposed that summer camp was dead. The author said that ministries don’t want to put the necessary time or resources into them, and churches want to focus their time on things that have more “value.”

As someone who has spent the last 25 years leading and crafting experiences, including summer camp, the article intrigued me because my experience was the exact opposite. I have such a different perspective on experiences like summer camp, and their value to Kingdom advancement. From my seat, camp is far from dead. It’s just the opposite, actually.

Here are three reasons why I believe in summer camp.

Jesus went on retreat. So should we.

Jesus is always a great example to follow. As you read the scriptures, you see Him often retreating from the crowds and the “normal” flow of life. He goes away and spends intimate time with His followers or with His Father. I believe that model still has great value. When teenagers remove themselves from the distractions of their everyday lives, they tend to hear the Lord more clearly. Spending focused time in healthy Biblical community helps them understand the call to serve, and to make the truth of the Gospel known.

Students are changed at summer camp.

Every summer, all summer long, I get to the end of a summer camp and hear youth workers talking about all God did in the life of their group, and in their students. Some students come to Christ for the first time (seeing students going from death to life never gets old). And there are countless other decisions that come in these intimate times with God. Summer camp is about lifting up the name of Jesus, and letting the Spirit do what only He can do.

I am the product of an experience at summer camp that literally altered my life’s trajectory. One moment with God at camp put a life of faith and serving God in motion. I imagine that’s likely true for many of you, as well. God often uses these simple moments to reveal the good plan He has in store for our lives.

Students learn the Gospel, and are challenged to make the Gospel known.

Well, at least they SHOULD. And I can personally say that this is our hope for GENERATE Camp by YM360. You may have heard that we’ve recently announced GENERATE, a new summer camp experience that will launch THIS SUMMER, 2016. As we craft the GENERATE experience, knowing the Gospel and making it known are front-and-center for us.

GENERATE Camp by YM360 will help students know the Gospel, and grasp their mission of making the Gospel known, embracing the call to be disciple-makers. We want students to not just be consumers of the Gospel, but conduits of Gospel advancement!

As our team crafts these experiences, those two main focuses will guide all we do from small group Bible studies, large group gatherings, moments of build strong Biblical community, and using camp to support the mission of the local church.

One more word on something I believe about camps . . .

I believe a good summer camp experience shouldn’t break the budget.

We respect the budget realities that most families and churches face. Our team is working hard to get the price of summer camps down as low as possible, with the thought that a lower costs allows more students to be involved (especially students that might not be believers). We understand that resources are always limited, but we believe that an excellent experience can be created at a great value. Our goal will always be excellence, as we believe that it honors God. So when you check the camps out (you can do that at, you’ll find that cost is pretty good for the experience. I personally have the mindset that money should never be what keeps someone from coming to summer camp, so I always invite people to connect with me and let’s see what we can do to make it work.

Many of our friends and YM360 churches are excited about what GENERATE Camp by YM360 will provide for their students, and have already registered for 2016. It’s been fun to talk with them, and hear more about how we will be able to serve them in their ministry.

In order to have the kind of value we all want to accomplish the one-week camp experience has to impact the other 51-weeks of the year! Only then will it become a key component to any churches student ministry strategy. We’d love the chance to spend summer 2016 with you. Let us know if you have any questions.

Summer Camp GENERATE Camp by YM360
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