One of my favorite parts of summer is camp. I love CentriKid camps! I’ve been to CentriKid in Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I love that they are consistent, safe, and fun. For the past three years, I’ve been to CentriKid as camp pastor and have been able to quietly (or not so quietly) observe a few things that I think would make your experience even better.
- Plan shirts for your church every day. At almost every camp I’ve ever been to, several churches have the kids wear a specific shirt for each day of camp. This helps everyone! The adults find their kids more easily, the kids find the adults more easily, and it even helps the staffers learn the church name as well. Assuming your church kids will wear the free CentriKid camps shirt on the last day of camp, that’s only 4 shirts. Each person could easily be supplied with a shirt for less than $20 per person. Just add that onto the cost of camp if your church can’t swing it. This also helps for kids who didn’t pack enough or may be embarrassed by what they have to wear.
- Camp Isn’t a Vacation for Chaperones. While that might sound obvious, I think that it bears mentioning. CentriKid camps makes it super easy for chaperones to have time for themselves and for fellowship. This makes great opportunities for chaperones to build relationships with kids. Set expectations for your chaperones that they will attend adult gatherings and volunteer to help with rec and track times. Don’t expect volunteers to just “sit it out.” Encourage them to build relationships with the kids!
- Your staffers are TIRED! I can’t begin to explain how amazing I believe the staffers are at camp. They work so hard and whether they really feel like it or not, they turn it on and give every kid and every camp their best! Imagine a full summer of sandwiches, cafeteria food, and little sleep. Before you go to camp, plan a way to show staffers you appreciate them. Some ideas include: a basket of snacks, pizza night for staffers, encouraging notes, a cooler full of cold gatorade after OMC!, and more. Oh and don’t forget to pray for the staffers, they love to be prayed for.
- Bring Lots of Orange! Everyone loves OMC and the kids enjoy it even more when their staffers get into it. I’ve seen one chaperone get a perm to look like Richard Simmons during Club Fit. This year one church had moose antlers for all of their adult chaperones during Adventure Awaits. Next year is Blueprint. What can you do?
- Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick. I’ve seen many groups with a huge sign that makes the group leader easily identifiable so that groups can stay together. One of my favorites was this year with a stuffed Santa dressed in camo. The leader had him attached to a stick and everywhere they went the kids knew to follow him. Make it easy for your kids to find you. Many kids go to camp with anxiety. Anything you can do to make them feel more secure is helpful!
Jeff Land is Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies For Life: Kids. He holds a BSW from Mississippi College and a MACE from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff has served as children’s pastor and currently teaches second graders each week at his church. Jeff, his wife Abbey, and their four sons live in Coopertown, TN.