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YM Essentials: The Summer Camp Checklist

YM Essentials: The Summer Camp Checklist

For many, summer camp is an integral part of their youth ministry. It's a time where youth groups grow closer together and closer to God through focused teaching and a healthy dose of fun. Camps with a missions component add an element of service that makes the experience even more meaningful. For a lot of students, camp is the highlight of the year.

But, if we're not careful, camp can be a source of worry for us!

There are those moments where we fear we may have forgotten to do something, whether it involves preparing for camp or something we're supposed to take to camp. It is often a nerve-wracking experience.

That's why years ago I developed my own camp planning check list. I thought I'd pass it along in hopes of keeping you from getting to camp and going, "OOOPS!" This is mainly for a youth camp put on by other groups but if you do your own camp I think you can easily adapt the list to your needs.

Early Prep Work

  1. Decide where you want to go for camp, sign up, and send in any deposits.
  2. Begin signing-up your students and adult leaders for the camp. There are some great software programs for youth ministry that make this process easier. Of course, there's always Excell, and old-fashioned notebooks work, too!
  3. Let your students know how much camp will cost, get them to put down a deposit, and set a date for final payment. Be very specific about your policies for refunding deposits and/or fees.
  4. Plan your transportation to and from camp.
  5. Check on the daily schedule at your camp, what you will be responsible for teaching and leading, and what the camp leaders will do. Make plans for any free time. (I try to find the balance between enough time to have fun and too-much free time. Too much unstructured free time is rarely a good thing!)

Getting Closer

  1. Get any camp promotional material and promote, promote, promote. If you or your adult leaders will be teaching any small group time, get the material to your leaders at least one month ahead of time.
  2. The dreaded rooming list! This is the one I always struggle with the most. Get your rooming list to your camp leaders on time.
  3. Make sure you have a medical release form on every student and adult attending camp. There are plenty of forms available on the Internet.
  4. Three of four weeks before camp send out an information letter outlining what time you will leave, what time you will return, where you are going, and include a list of everything the student needs to bring to camp. Also be clear of what is not allowed at camp.

Last Minute Prep

  1. Think through what you want to do about cell phones. I've found them to be a major distraction, but I also know parents do not want to send their child away without one. [I tell ours if I see their cell phone I get it until we go home, but that's just me. :) ]
  2. Send in your final payment to your camp.
  3. Some extra things I always take to camp: an iron, petty cash, 2 or 3 rolls of quarters, laundry detergent if facilities are available, a laundry bag, shower shoes, squirt soap, extra toothbrushes, extra pens, lanyards, kitchen size garbage bags for students dirty clothes, a medical kit with basic items for accidents, female hygiene items, Catch Phrase, notebook paper, and note cards.
  4. A nice little extra touch is to think ahead if any student or adult going to camp will have a birthday during that week. Take a card, get a cake, buy a CD or book from the camp worship leaders as a gift, and have a party. Don't forget napkins, plates, forks, birthday candles, and matches.


I hope this list will help you have a great stress-free youth camp this year.

  • Let us know if you have anything on your list that helps make camp a great experience.

About The Author

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

Richard Parker is the resident youth ministry guru at ym360. Richard has served as a youth minister for the past 36 years. ("Shockingly, he was Les' youth minister yet STILL decided to stay in ministry"!) He is currently co-pastor and student minister at a new church plant, Branches Church, in Russellville, AL. Richard serves as a special projects editor and staff writer. Richard wrote ym360's "REACH: A 6 Lesson Study on the Book of Psalms" and has contributed on all of their ongoing curriculum projects. He's also written many of ym360's free lessons, devotions, and blog posts. He and his wife Amy have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, and one granddaughter.

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