Tag Archives | summer camp

Get Your Senior Pastor to Help Promote Camp

Bible & Beach 2014 (Parent Promo) from Southeast NextGen Ministry (920) on Vimeo.

LOVE this simple video from Southeast Christian – the senior pastor of the church making the ask of parents to send their kids to camp. We’re taking the simple idea and sending something similar to our parents in 2 weeks. Love it!


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First 2 Years: Don’t Follow Your Heart


I sat down with a student recently who wanted to leave our ministry. She said she didn’t really “feel” anything at HSM anymore and explained that it was because she “wasn’t getting fed.” She went on to say that she had been listening to a lot of Judah Smith sermons that she loved and wanted to find a church with speakers like that. Now I am just as big of a Judah fan as anybody else,  but I wanted to go a little deeper with her. Once we really got talking I told her to tell me what the last Judah Smith message she listened to was about. She had a really hard time articulating an answer for me and it turned out that she didn’t really remember. The thing is, she didn’t remember what the message was about, she just remembered how it made her feel.

I think that story is a representation of a ton of teenagers and young adults all across the country–even the world. You see tons of them going to several different churches for worship nights, speakers, etc. all because they are addicted to this emotional response. Students are terrified of the moment where they might not feel anything, because if they don’t feel anything, God must be distant from them. Students have the temptation to evaluate their relationship with the Lord based on how their heart feels. What they forget is that the Bible says the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things (Jer. 17:9).

This can manifest itself in something called the “camp high,” in which students come back from a winter or summer camp and feel “on fire” for the Lord. They commit to making all of these changes when they get back home and, when the feeling goes away, many fall back into old habits because the new ones are hard to keep when they don’t have that fire in their heart.

We need to focus on teaching students about this. It is so important that you talk with them about their feelings and emotional health. Being in the middle of winter camp season, we have a great opportunity to address this with students. A HUGE piece of volunteer camp training we often miss is teaching how to handle things like “cry night.” When a student starts crying, our volunteers should be asking them about it and unpacking it. Students are rarely challenged to identify the emotions they are feeling, so instead of coming to and understanding of their feelings, they are only left with the memory of it.

Have you noticed this in your youth group, too? What are you doing to tackle the topic?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 237


Weekend Teaching Series: Best Year Ever: STORIES: Summer Camp edition (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: God is all about changing lives, be transformed here every week and once a year up at summer camp.
Service Length: 67 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off our registration for summer camp with a Stories weekend. A Stories weekend is when we don’t have a “message” in the typical format, but allow students to share their stories with the entire group. Without a doubt, it is one of the most powerful messages we give every year, too! The students worked hard to prepare their story as well as had someone from our student ministry read through it with them and their parents signed off as well.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we had a fun game called Egg Roulette as well as a strong video near the front of the program. We also played last year’s summer camp highlight video which was powerful and also brought back a ton of good memories from last year. Tons of students involved, great volunteers and a really fun, clean program.

Music Playlist: Alive, Oceans, Let It Be Known, He Is Alive

Favorite Moment: So many great moments – my favorite for sure being when Justin cut his head open playing Egg Roulette. Simple, fun game that apparently is near lethal, too. Hahhaahah … just glad he didn’t get a concussion. In all seriousness, my favorite moment is for sure when a student gathers up the courage to share. SO powerful, the story of a changed life!

Up next: 50 Days of Transformation (church-wide campaign, week 1 of 7)

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50% Off Camps and Retreats All Week at DYM


This week in our youth ministry we turn the corner into camps, DNow and retreat season! If you’re like us, you’re starting to scour or frantically searching for a conference theme and messages. DYM to the rescue!  We’ve taken 50% off of all of the resources in our camps and retreats category for this week only. Check out a few of them:

  • Oasis – a 4-night Junior High camp I did last summer. Could easily be adapted into a series, or delivered to high school students too. Jesus is the living water.
  • Threads – sermon notes, schedule, prayer night guide and devotional book. Pretty complete resource for  camp/retreat
  • The Word – Not exactly a retreat tool, but a good post-camp resource to help get students in the Word. Might be a good way to have students keep the camp high growth curve moving forward.

Check them all out here … for 50% off!


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HSM Summer Camp Music Video

Is it already time to talk about Summer Camp? Believe it or not … we’ve already started! Here’s a fun video from this past weekend in our high school ministry, a throwback music video to help get promotion for our biggest event of the year started!


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Summer Camp Stories Weekend Testimony Video

We had an amazing weekend at youth group – one of my favorites ever! We celebrated all that God did at Summer Camp last year with a STORIES weekend to kickoff the opening of registration. This was one of the video testimonies from a student named Jenny. So good!


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Top 10 Youth Ministry Blog Posts of 2013: #1-5

There are over 1,970 posts here on the Love God, Love Students blog on DYM. What a year it has been! As we countdown the year together, I thought it might be fun to post a few of the Top 10 posts of the year (read #6-10 here). Enjoy the list … and if you haven’t read these posts yet, they are some of the best of the best:

  • The 40-Year Old Youth Pastor
    Looking back, I thought they were the golden years of youth ministry for me….I was close in age with the students and was often confused for being a teenager by parents. I thought this is it…it will never get better. I related to their world and I didn’t have to try hard to be cool…I was cool (notice the past tense.) Now as I prepare to celebrate my 40th birthday…I can’t help but feel that I am a better youth worker than I have ever been.
  • Fun Free Youth Group Game: Jiggapuff
    One of the best new games we’ve done in a long time – Jiggapuff! The premise is simple – don’t do the same pose as the person running the game! You don’t need props or prep – just announce the game, show this slide on the screen and you’re all set!
  • Being an Introvert in Youth Ministry
    As I would eventually find out, there was a name for my disposition. There was a diagnosis for my condition. I was an introvert. And the reason I struggled through youth group was that it had been cultivated in an extroverted culture— or so it seemed. The energetic, small talk-heavy, high-octane world of youth ministry clashed with my reserved, reflective, one-word-at-a-time disposition.
  • Getting Stronger Speaking
    Writing a message is one thing; however, to deliver it is a totally different skill.  Speaking is important in ministry because it’s how you can motivate your teens, parents and volunteers.  It’s how you cast vision, encourage and challenge them to grow in their faith.  While some people are naturally talented at speaking others have to work hard at it.
  • Take Your Kids to Camp
    My kids know camp. My kids love camp. They should… they are children of a youth pastor. They tagged along to camp before they could walk and have seen just about every time of camp/mission trip/overnighter there is. I loved having them there and they loved being there.


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Summer Camp Rules Video

Not sure how I’ve missed this great video from a couple years ago – but I’m definitely filing it away to use next summer or as inspiration for our own!


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My 3 Favorite Ministry Moments This Summer


Just doing some reflecting this week over the incredible summer in our youth ministry. I’m exhausted, and sometimes when I need a push to the finish line I’ll reflect on what God has done – nothing like that for a little inspiration as we head into fall. So … here are my top 3 moments from ministry this summer:

Summer camp baptisms
I love baptisms! And summer camp always is one of the most special times of the whole summer where Life Group leaders and cabin leaders all jump in the water and participate in this special picture of Christ’s forgiveness. So special! Then seeing the pictures on Facebook and Instagram for the next several weeks … incredible.

Guys trip conversations
I’m just coming off of our guys trip just this past week, but the conversations were absolutely incredible. Get guys alone for a few days and they open up big time. Walls come down, defenses crumble and masks come off. Really, really special times of counsel, prayer and love. LOVE those guys.

Seeing our summer interns grow so much
Every year we bring in 3-5 homegrown interns in for the summer and this year they were absolutely astonishing. We had 3 of the 5 that were already feeling called to ministry, and the others cemented their decisions to use their lives in service in some way to teenagers. Quite honestly, not all of my plans for their intentional development worked out, but they grew and learned so much as they went … and managed to teach me a few things along the way, too.

So, those are my highlights! What was your favorite ministry moment this past summer?


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Rise Up Spoken Word Video

Just ran across this great spoken word theme video from CIY’s Move event this past summer – this was one of the favorites with our students! There are several more on their YouTube channel if you want to check them all out!


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The 40 Year Old Youth Pastor


Looking back, I thought they were the golden years of youth ministry for me….I was close in age with the students and was often confused for being a teenager by parents. I thought this is it…it will never get better. I related to their world and I didn’t have to try hard to be cool…I was cool (notice the past tense.) Now as I prepare to celebrate my 40th birthday…I can’t help but feel that I am a better youth worker than I have ever been.

At least, mostly better. When we got back from summer camp this year, it took me a week or more to recover when before all I needed was one day to sleep in and “veg-out.” (Of course, I didn’t have kids myself so “sleeping in” was really sleeping all day.)

Or when I use to talk with students about their favorite movies or music…I would find that we liked very similar things. I could relate to their world. Now when we talk about movies or music a student is quick to say “Oh yeah, my mom likes them too.” Nice.

Besides it taking longer to recover from camp and being compared to their mom…I feel like I am in my sweet spot. I love being with students and with our leaders. I feel like I am just getting started. Instead of trying to be cool, I can focus all my energy on caring. I also find that rejection hurts less now the older I get…Don’t get me wrong…it still hurts but I have learned to not take rejection so personally. It’s not so bad being older.

This got me thinking about the trends of youth ministry and how long youth pastors stay at a church. Or the new trend of youth workers planting churches. Neither of those things is bad but I want to encourage my youth worker friends…that longevity is a gift and your best years may be ahead of you.

With that in mind:

If you are young, don’t give up….stick it out…you will find it only gets easier and more rewarding the longer you stay.

If you are in the middle, we’ve made it…keep going strong…it’s just getting good.

If you are “older” than the average, thank you! Thank you for not seeing youth ministry as a stepping stone and for believing in teenagers. I look up to you. You are my heroes. And if you start to doubt yourself…know that teenagers need your love more now than ever due to the breakdown of the family unit. Don’t believe the lie that you are too old for youth ministry.

Truthfully, I look forward to the day that a student says “oh yeah, my grandma likes them too.”

What about you? Where do you find yourself? Any “older” youth workers have some wisdom for the young-uns?

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What Parents Want From You At Camp

Two years ago, I experienced something new in youth ministry.  I stood on the curb in front of the church, waving goodbye as our oldest headed to weeklong summer camp for the first time.  I was not on the bus.  I was a parent who was left behind, unable to take the time away from my work at the Fuller Youth Institute and my remaining children to go myself.

Recently, I was standing on the church’s curb again, but this time I was waving at two buses as our two oldest went to camp.

Based on what our church has done to support families in the midst of camp, or what I wish they would have done, I have some ideas for how parents and youth ministries could better partner for more long-term results in camps.  No one youth ministry can do all of these ideas, but I’m guessing most could add one or two of these ideas to the camp experience.  Not only would these ideas increase the fruit from camp, they would likely generate good will and a sense of partnership with parents that would last for months to come:

  1. Ideas on how to talk to my kid about camp beforehand.
  2. Special tips on how to prepare my kid ahead of time if it’s their first time gone from home for that long.
  3. Specific ways I can support my kid during camp such as sending care packages (please provide the address and the timeframe so I know when I should be mailing the packages), or giving them gifts or notes to open each day.
  4. Pictures!  Pictures!  Pictures!  During the week, I’d love to see pictures of the kids.
  5. Ideas on how to pray during the week, ideally correlating with the content theme of the day.
  6. Some sort of daily update (via social media or a voice mail I could call into) that gives a few highlights and a sense of what God is doing.
  7. Questions I can ask my kid when they return.
  8. A summary of what themes and portions of Scripture were studied.

If you’re a parent, what else do you want at camp?  If you’re a youth leader, how else have you tried to partner with parents at camp? 

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Summer Camps Recap

At our church we do things a little different. Our whole student ministry staff serves both middle school and high school – but we do separate programs for each group. It is a little different but it works in our setting. This recap video is from both our high school camp (Houseboats) and our middle school camp (Wenatchee). Both weeks were amazing! I love summer camps!

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4 Learnings from Speaking to Junior Highers


I had the incredible privilege to speak this past week at junior high camp! For almost all of my youth ministry career I’ve concentrated on working with high school students, even more since coming to Saddleback 10 years ago and now almost completely as the high school pastor. So the idea of speaking at our junior high camp was especially exciting and challenging for me. Here’s 4 quick things I learned about junior high students this past week:

Short is strong
I kept all of the 4 talks last week to 22 minutes or less. I spent some really significant time prepping the talks, and wanted to pack as much into those 20ish minutes. Pushing it beyond that … you start to lose them. I also concentrated on the “arc” of the series and didn’t feel the need to pack it all into one message since I had the whole week. Often times speakers make the mistake of teaching 3 messages in 1, and losing the impact of the whole night!

Not as much snickering
Working with high school students all of the time it was refreshing to not hear students snickering when a sentence could be taken in another less appropriate direction. When I speak to high school students I choose words and phrases very carefully to avoid making a mistake of distracting them with a phrase or term that could be taken off color.

Object lessons for the win
This past week I used an object lesson practically every night – and filled the rest with stories and illustrations from my life. Jesus loved stories, and so do junior highers! I taught with a squirt gun and a Super Soaker the first night, used a recurring bit on stage with a chocolate malt and a bucket and sponge in one of the talks as well (sorry Bryce, pictured above).

They’re not that different from high school students
Here’s the real scoop – at the end of the day they’re both teenage students who need Jesus. Sure they handle shorter talks better and can quickly relate to stories or object lessons but what high school student isn’t the same way? At the end of the day it was incredibly fulfilling and fun to speak to our junior high ministry. And hey, I’ll have them in HSM in a few short years so what a great start to building those relationships, too!

What are some other differences/similarities you’ve noticed when speaking to junior high and high school students?


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Wildside Summer Camp Highlight Video: Day 3

Finished up an absolutely amazing week of summer camp with our junior high ministry – what a fun but exhausting week talking about Jesus the Living Water. The new series Oasis will come out here on DYM next Tuesday. So excited to see God use the talks in other ministries, too. Whew, what a week – junior highers are exhausting … and awesome. I’ll definitely be blogging about what I learned here, too!


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