There are hard questions to ask every year about summer camp. Questions like, "Who should be our next camp speaker?", "What should be our theme?" and "How much money should we budget?" are all important camp questions.
But maybe the hardest question (to honestly answer) is this one…
"Is camp really accomplishing what we hoped it would for the long-term transformation of the teenagers in our youth group?"
Now, before I dive into this post I want to make one thing perfectly clear…I’m a big believer in the power and potential of taking teenagers to camp. I went to camp every year in middle school and high school. It was where I was challenged to live and share my faith. It was where I made significant game-changing, life-altering decisions that affect me to this day.
But, while times have changed and so have teenagers...most camps haven't.
We don’t live in the 50’s anymore. morning devos, afternoon games and nightly inspiration are good but not enough to stem the tide of temptation and technology coming at our teenagers today.
I'm convinced that we need to view and do camp differently today. I believe we must missionize our camps. We must activate them not just to give the Gospel, but to raise up Gospelizers. We must "go New Testament" with our camp strategy.
What if teenagers were not just given the Gospel at camp but given a mission beyond camp?
What if they did more than just played games with their Christian friends but made plans to reach their non-Christian friends?
What if teenagers were not just motivated to share the Gospel with their friends but equipped to navigate those conversations with love and grace?
This may sound like too much to cram into camp but all this could be done in well-programmed morning session or two. It also could start early on and become a growing emphasis the closer teenagers get to the end of the week. You could ask every camp speaker to do a night on the urgency of evangelism.
Having just wrapped up our fifth Lead THE Cause event of the summer I am convinced more than ever that the most fun a teenager can have is making and multiplying disciples. This summer we equipped well over a thousand teenagers to reach their generation with the message of Jesus Christ.
This last week I watched in awe as we wrapped up our Orange County Lead THE Cause event at Corona Del Mar beach. It wasn’t the bonfire that gave me chills, it was the spontaneous baptisms on the beach. It was the Gospel conversations that happened when people asked the teenagers cheering what was going on. It was the fact that teenagers didn’t have to be told to share their faith but they did it on their own…and had been equipped to do it at Lead THE Cause.
During Lead THE Cause, we have a Prayer day, Care day, Share day and Dare day. In the morning teenagers learn how to pray, care, share and dare. In the afternoon they put it into practice in a practical and powerful way and at night they are inspired to keep living it out beyond the week of training. On the "Dare day" teenagers and youth leaders alike make a plan to go back to their communities and campuses to actually make and multiply disciples.
Although this week is light on games it’s heavy on excitement. But this brand of excitement doesn’t come from climbing a rock wall or playing capture the flag. It comes from climbing the invisible barrier that keeps teens silent about Jesus and capturing lost souls from Satan's kingdom.
It’s hard to explain but I’ve heard from teen after teen that this is the most fun they’ve ever had at a camp. Although Lead THE Cause is not technically a camp the unfiltered joy and spiritual adrenalin that flows from teens reaching out to others with the hope of Jesus Christ is visceral and powerful.
I encourage you to give Lead THE Cause a try next summer. We are planning on being in the following cities in 2019:
- Chicago, IL (June 17-22)
- Austin, TX (June 24-29)
- Denver, CO (July 8-13)
- Orange County, CA (July 15-20)
- Washington DC (July 29-August 3rd)
At the minimum Lead THE Cause may help you to reimagine camp as a way, not just to energize your teens, but to mobilize them for the Gospel. At the maximum it could change your summer plans into the foreseeable future.
Again, I love camp. But it’s time to re-imagine it. Lead THE Cause will help you and your teens do just that.