How do you invest in them?
I once heard what I thought was the perfect description of kids’ camp for a child. It was in an online article. The author was Dick Gruber. He described kids’ camp through the eyes of a child, as a week-long glimpse of what heaven is going to be like. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. However, in the running of kids’ camps, kids are not the only ones that are a part of the kids’ camp experience. It’s the children’s pastors, moms and dads, and volunteers that help you achieve that goal for our kids.
In some instances, kids camp for our adults and volunteers may not be that glimpse of heaven that our campers experience. But instead, they see it as a glimpse of the total opposite. (I think you know what I mean.) So it is up to us, as camp directors and leaders, to help our adults and volunteers be ready to make kids camp what it should be: a glimpse of heaven for everyone.
- Share your vision and mission of your camp. Any time that you have your volunteers and camp staff gathered in one place, whether it’s at a coach’s devotion or staff meeting, share the purpose and reason that they are there that week. Explain that their sole purpose for being there is to ensure that each child has the best camping experience possible. Encourage them to remove every distraction that they have so that they can focus on Jesus. Urge them to allow the Holy Spirit to work, lead, and guide them. Let them know that they have a purpose for being at camp. If they feel like they have purpose, they will buy-in to the vision and own it!
- Take time to show them you care. It is so hard to be everywhere all the time, especially at camp. Be sure to set aside times to talk and hang out with your volunteers. Just a few minutes could impact a lifetime of trust in someone. Some of the best times of pouring into our leaders at camp are when the kids are all down for the night. After the last cabin check, we have what is called our “Executive Meeting,” which is nothing more than raiding the cafeteria for milk and cookies and having a quick sit-down with our leaders. It’s an incredible time to focus on them and their own needs in life.
- In time your team will grow on its own. What we find amazing is that when we invest time in our volunteers, the direct result is them wanting to come back to camp each year. We have had several leaders come as a coach or counselor for one year. The next year, we put them on staff as KP director or Dean. We now have volunteers that have become part of our camp leadership team and spend the entire 6 weeks of kids’ camp with us.
- If you invest in your camp volunteers, the benefits could last year-round. While kids’ camp is by far the biggest part of what we do, it is by no means the only thing. We have found that if camp is a positive experience for our volunteers and they catch our vision to reach kids, we don’t have to look very far in finding volunteers for our other events throughout the rest of the year.
For most of us, camp is just a few weeks away. If you haven’t done so already, begin praying for your leaders and volunteers that are going to be a part of your kids’ camp team this year. Pray that God begins, right now, to put a sense of ownership in their spirits concerning kids’ camp. Take care of your volunteers. Reflecting on past years—could you have done it without them?
Didn’t think so.
Have a great camp season!