Camping experiences offered to school-aged students provide an opportunity for a lasting impact on faith development.
We often refer to camping as a peak experience. Camps offer an opportunity for young people to ‘go deeper’ than they can at a once a week youth event. Young people often report a camping experience as a turning point for them in the formation of their faith.
Research shows us that when young people feel connected and integrated into their wider faith community they are more likely to stay. Therefore, it is important that the congregation acknowledges and participates in the journey of camp. This involvement can assist young people to ensure that the experience of camp is not ‘lost’ but becomes an important and vital step in the formation of their faith.
How can you help?
- Prayer is a powerful tool to encourage and empower people.
- Pray for the young people before camp.
- The names of those going on camp could be listed in the bulletin.
- Bring the young people up to the front of the worship service and pray over them before camp.
- Encourage your congregation to pray for them while they are away.
- Pray for them after their return.
- Encourage the prayer team of your congregation to surround these young people in prayer as they continue their journey.
It is vital that a connection is made with these young people to show them that as their church family you care about them and that their journey is important to you. Research shows us that young people are looking for authentic and caring relationships. You will be amazed at how this intentional communication will impact your congregation.
- Give the young people an opportunity to reflect and share their experience.
- Encourage them to share what they learnt and the things that impacted them the most.
- Provide a space for this to occur during a worship service, at a youth event or at a special celebration meal.
- Some of the young people that attended camp from your area may not be regularly involved in a faith community. Host a celebration meal for young people, parents, key leaders and mentors of your congregation.
- Allow the young people to create something to show their experience at camp. Photos, PowerPoint or video can be used to share at different church events.
Living it out
Camp can often lead to a time of spiritual growth; this is an important time to offer opportunities and support to ensure this growth can continue. This is where congregations have the perfect opportunity to connect with young people and journey with them. Find people within your congregation who can support this and intentionally find ways to mentor and care.
- Encourage Bible reading and devotions
- Help them find a study resource.
- Offer a small group for the young people to continue their walk together.
- Help them to identify their gifts and talents
- Have intentional conversations with the young people to find how they can use their new-found enthusiasm to encourage and empower their church family.
(See the Grow Ministries equipping sheet – ‘How to encourage gifts and talents’ for ideas about this.)
A response that we often hear after camp is that “my church is nothing like camp”. To young people, this is a real concern which needs to be recognised. Rather than looking at this as a negative or criticism, we can encourage our young people to share their thoughts and ideas and seek ways that help them to feel more connected. It is important that the needs of the young people are listened to and provisions made in our Sunday services that allow them to participate. This allows us to move into a more intergenerational style of ministry where all ages and stages are valued.
This could include;
- Giving them the opportunity to join an existing band, using their musical skills to enhance worship on a regular basis or encourage them to start a new band.
- The use of YouTube clips during worship with songs that they connect to.
- Opportunities for testimonies.
- Involvement in a ministry that has captured their heart.
- Opportunity to sit on a leadership committee.
- Set up some mentoring relationships with the young people in your community.
Encourage families to share their faith at home
Parents remain the number one influencers of faith. What Mum and Dad do and say is still the biggest factor in whether a child will have faith. Encourage your families to share their faith at home with practical resources.