Keeping the Camp Fire Burning

My Facebook page is overflowing with photos and comments about summer youth camps!  I love seeing the passion and fire for Jesus of youth, volunteers, and youth pastors after a week (or weekS) of camp. 

Why is it so much easier to get a spiritual boost at camp than the rest of the year? And why does that spiritual boost seem to diminish within a week after camp (or convention, retreat, rally, IYC, etc)?

I started working with students (teenagers) in 1994.  I became a paid "professional" Youth Pastor in 1998.  Since taking the role of Lead Pastor in 2007, I have still been actively involved in ministry to students.  In these 17 years, I have seen methods change - rapidly, and often drastically.  But one thing that has remained constant is the general inability to "keep the fire burning" after camp. (DISCLAIMER: I know there are exceptions to the rule, please don't email me how you're different.  I'm sure you are.  ;}) 

Can anything be done?  YES!  Here are a couple of keys to keeping the camp fire burning:

1) Be Intentional.  Ask yourself, what is the purpose of camp?  Yeah yeah, I know things like "something to do" and "hook up with a girl" are reality, but truthfully - what is the intent of a summer youth CHURCH camp?  It is to help you draw closer to God.  There are programs, discussions, and worship gatherings in place to help you intentionally connect with God.  In your every day life, this is possible, but it takes more work on your part.  But guess what?  You can do it!  I know you can!

2) Be Connected.  Who are you around at camp?  Squirrels and super-sweet cafeteria ladies!  No really, think about this.  Mostly, those who attend church camp are Christians.  Certainly not everyone is, or else we would never get those stories we love about someone who "got saved" at camp.  Anyone who knows me, understands that I believe (and live out) it is great to build relationships with people who are not Christians... BUT one of the reasons you feel so connected to Jesus at camp is because its easier when you're around other apprentices of Jesus.  Mentors and accountability partners are HUGE parts in staying connected all year long!

3) Be Daily.  You arrive at camp.  You go to sleep at camp.  You wake up at camp.  You do life at camp. You do it all over again every day until you go home.  Of course you start to get on fire for the things of God - you're being intentional about spiritual matters and connected with other Christians daily!  Devotions, the music you hear, the conversations you have (most of them anyways), prayer, singing, teaching, learning - all of it every day!  This is where everyone, God included, sees your heart: are you seeking to experience God daily?  Pick up your Bible and read it.  Write what God is showing you, and your thoughts and prayers in a journal.  Follow me on Twitter, and I promise you will get at least one tweet just about every day encouraging you with God's Word!  Christianity works when it is a daily relationship, not just a summer fling!

And also... let me know how I can help you do this!
Florida Youth Group


Paul Michel said…
Good "spur" Pastor Steve. I agree! I believe the cancer lives IN everyday life. Then camp is the REALITY of Gods plan and purpose for us. Like an adrenaline shot. I feel His plan is for "camp" (or intentional meetings, discussions, spurrings, etc.) should be our call to true repentance, perspective, and fresh training methods. Thats when REAL lifechange occurs. Not just at camp. But, as you've stated...theres the real problem. Good post, Pastor! Love your heart man. Be encouraged! -pm

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