Camp is an amazing environment for kids to get out of their normal routine, try something new, explore a new place, and make lifelong memories. Every summer we see kids do brave things like trying a zip line, jump off the diving board, or in some cases, their courage is tested by just traveling on the bus and staying away from home for a few nights.
While the kids are away at camp, some parents breathe a sigh of relief … but most parents wonder, worry, and have to face fears of their own! Will my child like any of the food in the dining hall? Will my daughter make new friends? Will my son shower at some point during the week?
We love to encourage kids to grow through the camp experience, but parents can grow too. Here are some challenges that a Kids Ministry leader can give parents in your pre-camp information meetings. Encourage parents to grow, and give them support as you challenge them to:
- Send your child to an overnight camp without you. This is a huge step for some parents and not as big a deal for others. As a kidmin leader, you must discern where the parent/child readiness is here.
- Invest in your child spiritually at home, even if you don’t know all the answers. Your kids ministry teaching is wonderful, but a parent investing at home is so much more valuable than what we can do at camp or at church.
- Trust other people like a church leader or summer staff to pour into your child spiritually. It takes a team, and sometimes a new face or new place at camp will uncover a wonderful discipleship conversation where camp staffers and church leaders contribute to a child’s spiritual growth.
- Allow your child some independence. Give parents a packing list, but encourage them to allow their kids to make their own clothes selections and eating selection in a stay away situation like camp.
- Make the necessary sacrifices. For some families, it means sacrificing time at the beach or the pool. For other families, they have to make financial sacrifices to afford to send a child (or children) to camp. Help parents see the importance of camp and be courageous to trust God with their time and finances because of the powerful spiritual impact camp can have on kids.
For parents who are not sending their kids away for the very first time, there may be different opportunities for growth. It could be that going to camp and investing in the whole group, eating camp food, and staying in the dorm is the courageous move. For parents who cannot go away to camp, they may need to be courageous enough to allow some distance and NOT call their child every day at camp. This might help the child be more courageous with leaving home and grow through the feelings of homesickness.
Jeremy Echols leads the camps area for LifeWay Kids. He, his wife Emily, and their precious daughter love their church, their neighborhood, and spending time together. Jeremy enjoys reading, watching sports, and all of his daughter’s after-school activities.