by James Reine/ June 6, 2022
The camp experience will naturally bring about lasting memories. Whether it’s being on the winning team, eating something disgusting for a competition, that one funny skit, or going days without a shower, camp will always be a place for memory-making moments. A child will rarely remember the struggles. Usually it’s the impactful memories that are turned into moments.
What’s the difference between a memory and a moment? Memories are great to look back on; moments help propel the child’s future. Both are important. However, moments will typically affect discipleship growth in a much deeper way than a memory.
Below are several helpful conversation starters that you, as a leader, can have with children that will help move camp experiences from memories to moments.
If a child is old enough to accept Jesus as Savior at an altar call, then that child is old enough to hear God speak. It’s the job of spiritual leaders to help them understand the voice of God instead of actually being the voice of God. So rather than telling a child how a certain memory of their time at the altar is so important, ask them what they think God spoke to them. Help them understand the way in which God speaks. This might be the first time the child has heard from God. Open up the conversation in a way that helps them understand it as a moment that God showed up rather than a memory of them raising their hand for salvation.
It's important to remember to not put God in a box here. Do not expect God to speak to a super-imaginative child the same way He speaks to a very practical adult. Give plenty of room for the creative God to work. A follow-up question to ask is, “What do you think that means?”
The aim of this question is for a child to understand their desires and purpose, and to increase their faith in God for those desires and purposes to come true. We often praise child-like faith, but we think child-like prayers are overly simple and shallow. We must teach them to pray bold prayers while still believing with the utmost faith that what is prayed can be answered.
A follow up question could be, “What is the result of God answering that prayer?”
This is absolutely crucial if you want the camp experience to have a lasting impact. This is something that youth pastors readily ask teenagers after camp is over. Kids’ pastors need to ask this too. It’s possible that God is speaking to a third grader to start a prayer group at their school or to witness to their neighbor. We must continue to believe that children can do big things for God.
Hopefully, answers to the above questions will start conversations. You can ask them all at once or choose one for each night of camp. The purpose is to create meaningful conversations with children where they can process what happened. If they have the space to process their memories, those memories can be more easily converted to moments that impact them beyond the week of camp.