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Tag Archives | summer camp

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 254


Weekend Teaching Series: Summer Camp Stories Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: A celebration of all that God did at camp this year!
Service Length: 116 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we went all out – invited parents and students to a big celebration service with a special baptism service right after as well with a huge party and cake, too! There wasn’t a huge formal message, but a ton of messages in student stories shared live throughout the weekend. We also included an “open mic” part of the evening as well where we opened it up to anyone in the crowd. Powerful stuff, and totally unpredictable.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Huge energy in the youth room, we played all of the camp songs and played the final highlight video as well. So, so fun! One of the best weekend we’ve had in a long time – there’s something special about the youth group after camp. Wow.

Music Playlist: Savior of the World, You Hold Me, Sinking Deep, We Are the Free, He Is Alive

Favorite Moment: I LOVED having the parents in the services this weekend. This is a new annual tradition for sure! WIN!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend (August)

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The Youth Worker Collector


I spoke at a summer camp last month and noticed this solid page in the camp handbook that was given out to each student in attendance. While the rules certainly aren’t anything new, it caught my eye (usually anything with 4 “Ms” will) so I snapped a picture of it. I am a youth ministry collector. Doesn’t matter it is big, small, huge church, little church, veteran youth worker or even someone I completely disagree with – I beg, borrow and steal everything. Keep your eye out for something you can steal or and idea you can lift and make your own next summer, too!


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3 Things To Do Right After You Get Back from Summer Camp


We just got back from camp – and while I’m completely exhausted and have tons of work piled up from being gone the last 10 days, there are 2-3 immediate actions that I have to spring into action to do. Here’s what I’m dealing with on my first days back to the office:

Put out fires
I’ve had to return 3-4 emails of parents who had students that had less than great experiences. I have a meeting set up for this afternoon with 2 moms of freshman boys for something that happened in their cabin I have little or no defense for. I had another couple of students complain about bullying. The vast, vast majority of students had an amazing time, but I’ve got to jump in on the fires right away after camp. No hesitation.

Celebrate the wins
Take time to pass along the good news, too! Forward an email from a happy parent to the church office list. Share a few of the most positive and life-changing ones with your volunteers. Spread the word and celebrate all that God did up at camp! Plan the first youth group after camp to be a giant celebration service with testimonies and cake! Woohooo!

Rest up
No one has heard from me for the first 2 days back. When I come back from camp I have to go dark and rest in order to be ready for the rest of the summer. I have to fight the temptation to engage right away or continue to batter my adrenal glands for another few days. Instead I went to the beach, took 2 naps (unheard of for me) and ate lots of healthy food to help my digestive system get back on track.

What else do you do right away when you come back from camp?


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HSM Summer Camp 2014 Week Highlight Video

This was an incredible week of camp. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it is because I am in a camp-


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Letter to Parents After Summer Camp



What an amazing and packed week up here at HSM Summer Camp. It was filled with friendships, spiritual challenges, hilarious games, epic music and surprisingly good camp food. Phil Wickham stopped by for a concert, we danced the night away with DJ Promote and we slid down the largest inflatable water slide this side of the Mississippi!

I wanted to share some highlights with you – we’ve been enjoying the campus of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ all week centering on the theme This Changes Everything. Our speakers were Brad Tate (your teenager might call him “the one with dreadlocks”), Jodi Hickerson (aka the freestyle rapper) and Matt Reagan (the guy who said “brotha and ya’ll” too much). HSM’s own Cluster of Students band led us in worship and did an amazing job helping us respond to the message with heart and voice.

A few more highlights:
· Many students were baptized!
· The Mongolian BBQ had the longest lines of all the food services. Worth the wait!
· It was hot. Arizona even set a new all-time record this past Wednesday. Lovely.
· The bus ride was long, but loads of fun, too.
· The Chic-Fil-A was closed. Boooooooooooo.
· A ton of students made decisions for salvation, repentance, full-time Christian work and more!
· The Kingdom Worker sealed challenge cards were a huge hit again this year. Apparently God wants me to serve in the nursery!

I hope you’ll get a chance to come to services this weekend and sing the songs and hear the stories from HSM Summer Camp – come to the 6pm Saturday night, it should be so over the top. We’ve got about a dozen more baptisms to celebrate tomorrow night and cake for everyone, too!

I hope you’ll also take some time to talk more about camp and the decisions they made before they jump back into their Instagram world. I can’t wait for you to hear their stories and share their decisions with you.

hsmcamp awesome

Here are a few things you could talk about, a few questions to get you started:

  • Who was your counselor? What did you learn from him/her?
  • Did you make any new friends? Tell me about them!
  • Tell me about the “word bubble” they did in the night session. What words did you write down on your bubble? How did you feel when you threw it away? What words did your leader write down for you?
  • Did you make any spiritual decisions this week?
  • What song was the most meaningful to you? Why?
  • What made you laugh? What made you cry?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was the food at camp?
  • What did your Kingdom Worker challenge card say? What next steps do you want to take from here?
  • How are you going to follow-through on the decisions you made?
  • Did you miss me?

Well, there’s 358 days until HSM Summer Camp 2015. We want to use the GCU stadium and are hoping to take a kajillion students and leaders next year because God moves in major ways at summer camp. Thanks for your prayers, for trusting us and for sending your student to HSM Summer Camp. It is such a worthy investment and sacrifice. We’re trusting God the decisions made will last for a lifetime.

Josh Griffin & the HSM Team
High School Ministry | Saddleback Church

PS: If you missed the daily highlight videos, be sure to check them out here: http://www.youtube.com/highschoolministry and the final week-long compilation will debut in service tomorrow night. See you at the Refinery at 6pm!

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HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day Four

What a great camp – we have some great leaders. Headed home now!


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HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day Three

Exhausted. #summerministry


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HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day Two

Another great day at camp! Love summer ministry …


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HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day One

I’m away at high school camp this week – here’s the highlight video from Day 1. Off to a strong start … already exhausted from the first 24 hours!


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GUEST POST: Making the Most of Camp Cabin Times


Cabin times: confusing and frustrating youth workers since 1847*. We are told that cabin times are where the “real” ministry happens at camp: the band and the speaker will get students pumped for Jesus, but those late-night group discussions with their counselors will seal the deal.

*This statistic is not supported by science.

This kind of thinking is based in a lot of truth, but it can also create anxiety, undue pressure, and feelings of inadequacy for the counselor when his or her cabin time falls short of powerful expectations.

We just returned from middle school summer camp, where I was reminded again of the challenges of leading a “successful” cabin time. (In a minute I’ll explain why I put successful in quotes.) Thankfully, we brought along some incredible volunteers who were able to share their cabin time experiences and teach me a thing or two about making the most of group discussions at camp.

Here are some of the tips and trips I picked up last week and in previous years while reflecting on my cabin time successes and failures.

  1. Remember that there is no definition of a successful cabin time. You may find yourself frustrated more often than inspired during your cabin time. That’s OK. Even Jesus had trouble getting his group of twelve to focus, and he was spending time with them 24/7. Remember the words of Jesus: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Jesus is working in the hearts of your students, even if you can’t see it. Therefore, enter cabin time with a sincere and prayerful heart and great stuff will happen— it just might be more subtle than an outburst of repressed emotion or a student giving his or her life to Christ.
  1. It’s not about you. It really isn’t. It’s about God using you and a bunch of other people to bring students closer to him. Even if a student doesn’t open up to you in cabin time, there are so many other opportunities for them to really experience God at camp. And just because they don’t open up doesn’t mean they aren’t getting anything from the cabin time discussion. So ask God to help you take the pressure off yourself. On the day before camp, pray something like, “God, let your impact in my cabin group be as if I weren’t even there.” Take yourself out of the equation so that God may bring you into his process in ways you would never expect or imagine.
  1. Share your story. This was something my co-leader and I tried last week at camp. During our second evening cabin time, he opened the discussion by sharing his testimony, and there was an immediate change in the temperament of the group. Suddenly, our students’ perception of him went from a leader who had everything figured out to a fellow human being who was struggling through his journey with Christ along with them. Before I could share my story, a student raised his hand and asked if he could share his. After he went, another asked to share. And then another. Suddenly, students were opening up about their past and their family life. I had never seen anything like it. By the end of the week, almost all of our cabin students had shared their stories with the group. And it all started when one of their leaders, a high school senior, opened up about his life.
  1. Let them lead. A few years ago, I led a cabin group of eight high school juniors who had been following Jesus since they were kids. It was like pulling teeth getting them to talk about anything. On the final night of camp, I tried something different. It may have been a Hail Mary after three days of silence; I don’t quite remember what was going on in my mind. But I opened up cabin time by saying, “Tonight, you guys will be leading the discussion. I’m going to stay with you and participate, but I’m not going to ask any questions.” A few awkward seconds passed. Then, one of the juniors turned to the others and said, “OK. What did you guys get out of tonight’s message?” What followed was the best cabin time we had had all week long, even though it was the one I had guided the least. This tactic of letting them lead might not work with a younger group, but don’t be afraid to delegate leadership to your students.
  1. Remember that cabin time isn’t everything. Sure, some of the most powerful stuff at camp can happen during cabin times. But the buck doesn’t stop there. You may find that an impromptu, one-on-one discussion with a student during free time is just the interaction they needed. Maybe you’ll have a couple students who don’t especially connect with you throughout the week, but they really connect with the camp speaker’s messages and experience true life change during chapel. Understand the importance of cabin time but don’t exaggerate it. Keep a humble heart, ask God for excess amounts of patience, and trust that Jesus is there among you, guiding each and every student exactly where he or she needs to go.

Taylor Bird is the Middle School Pastor at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, CA. He has been serving in youth ministry for five years.

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Fun Twitter Campaign Idea For Summer Camp


This weekend we leave for HSM Summer Camp. It honestly is one of my favorite things we do all year long. The staff is pumped. The students are pumped. Our volunteers are pumped. I think it is easy to say, everyone and their mother is pumped for camp. One thing we have been trying to get pumped up (because we have not really focused on it besides the last few months) is our @SaddlebackHSM twitter. If I’m honest, we have neglected it but that has changed recently.

As I’m sure all of you know, many students are online in some way, shape or form. We have noticed many students have made the transition to Twitter so we want to communicate to them and get our ministry Twitter up on its game. So with camp coming up, I decided to launch a Twitter campaign of “100 Awesome Things About Summer Camp”. The goal was to get students to interact with it and in a way spread the word about HSM twitter to other students and friends while promoting our stuff. So we started to make a list of things about summer camp and used the hashtag “#100AwsomeThingsHSMCamp” and went to town.

I would have to say it was a success. Students “favorited” or “retweeted” many of the tweets and it was a really fun way to get students excited about camp. Go check out the rest of the tweets by clicking HERE.

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HSM Summer Camp Games: Pool Relay


GAME 1: Slip-N-Slide Kickball
GAME 2: Battle Fort
GAME 3: Ultimate Food
GAME 4: Human Battleship

GAME 5: Pool Relay


  • Cover watermelons with Vaseline or baby oil
  • Place puzzle pieces at the bottom of the pool
  • Make sure the pool rafts are inflated


  • First team to complete the relay wins!
  • Each team divides up and assigns players to each “leg” of the relay
  • 12 people for the raft
  • 10 people for watermelon
  • 2 people to get puzzle pieces
  • Everyone assembles the puzzle
  • On the whistle each team gets the first group of people in the pool in a straight line across the pool. Then a watermelon is passed from one end to the other and back. Once back at the start line those people rush out of the pool while the next set of group people go.
  • Their goal is to all get on the pool raft and row themselves to the far side of the pool and back. Once back, they tag the next person to jump into the pool and collect a puzzle piece. This continues until all puzzle pieces are collected. Once they have all the pieces, their team can begin to put the puzzle together. First team to complete it wins!
  • Must be different people working on each leg of the race.

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HSM Summer Camp Games: Human Battleship


GAME 1: Slip-N-Slide Kickball
GAME 2: Battle Fort
GAME 3: Ultimate Food

GAME 4: Human Battleship


  • Hang the 2-3 tarps over the volleyball net so that it goes from the top to the ground. (the goal is that no one can see the opposite team)
  • Give each side 2 buckets of water balloons, 2 balloon launchers and a bucket of soak balls (10-15 each team)

Team Set-up:

  • Teams will arrange 20 people into different formations to represent the battleships. Once they are set up they cannot move.
  • The rest of the team will be launching and throwing water balloons and soak balls.


  • The goal of the game is to “sink” as many human battleships as possible within 10 minutes.
  • Each time a player is hit, they are out of the game.
  • The team at the end with the most people left on the court wins!
  • Play this twice – great game to beat the heat.

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HSM Summer Camp Games: Ultimate Food


This week I’m posting some of our best games from summer camp – or students are SO into Color Wars / team rec games and it is so much fun. Some of the games I’ll list this week are regulars that are so fun we bring them back every year, and some are brand new … and yet to cause permanent injuries.

GAME 1: Slip-N-Slide Kickball
GAME 2: Battle Fort

GAME 3: Ultimate Food
Directions: Ultimate Frisbee with food instead of a Frisbee

  1. The goal of the game is to get the food item from one side of the field to the other, into your teams goal zone.
  2. One team will start with the food item and throw it to the team on the other side. The team who receives it, passes the food item from player to player to get to the other side of the field.
  3. Running with the food item in hand is not allowed – it must be passed from person to person until a completed catch in the scoring area.
  4. Recommended food items: a frozen pizza, a head of cabbage, squash, bag of peanuts or a whole trout

*To score, need to throw it to someone standing inside the end zone
*If someone drops or intercepts, it goes to the other team

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HSM Summer Camp 2014 Music Video

We have a fun tradition in our youth ministry – every year we create a music video to help promote the biggest event of summer. This one is so fun – really excited about camp this year – hoping this made people laugh as well as motivate them to sign up with just a couple days left before we close registration!


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