Last night I wrapped up speaking at my first camp in at least a decade. It's the largest camp of its kind in the world and had about 6,000 teens in attendance this week! Okay, so it's kind of a camp on steroids. But Falls Creek was a blast and it brought back a flood of camp memories. Growing up I went to camp every year in middle school and high school. And for years I spoke at camps early on in ministry. Some of the best Dare 2 Share material we have was worked out while at camp.
Because its been so long since I've done a camp I looked at these last five days with new eyes. Here are a few lessons I learned about the camp experience...
1. Sleep is a must.
Of course it is for old guys like me but it's a must for kids as well. The youth groups that had the best time, were most attentive to the talks and were still buzzing during the day were the ones where the youth leaders weren't afraid to yell, "Lights out!"
2. Great worship is a non-negotiable.
There's something about worship leaders who "disappear" while leading worship. When this magic act takes place all kids see is Jesus high and lifted up. This centralizes Christ in their hearts and sets the pace for the rest of the service and the rest of the week.
3. Present the gospel simply, creatively and relentlessly.
Nobody left Falls Creek without having tons of opportunities to put their faith in Jesus. This happened on stage and in the cabins. The gospel is core to what makes a great camp work. Whatever camp you go to make sure the gospel is presented simply and often.
4. Teens need time with their youth groups and each other.
I really like it when youth leaders have plenty of time to debrief, teach, lead and coordinate their own groups. Every group comes with it's own unique set of assets and baggage. Shrewd youth leaders know how to maximize what was taught in the big room and unpack it in their teens' cabins effectively.
5. Fun, fun, fun.
Okay, this seems like a no-brainer, but, in the past, I've been at camps where there were not enough fun things to do. Teens need to connect with each other through laughter, games and all-around craziness. As a result emotional walls come down and significant conversations start up. Fun can become a portal for honesty which can lead to true and deep life change.
Well, that's all I got. Now I need a nap.