For many churches, this will be their first time having a full-scale youth ministry camp after a long hiatus.
As a youth and a youth leader, I’ve been reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts so that we can make the most of youth camp.
What is the difference between a youth camp and other usual camps we go to? Do we see it as just another event to have fun at?
How can we go with the right attitude such that we don’t miss the purpose behind it?
1. Ditch the comfort-zone cliques
Since camp groupings are often deliberately randomised to give people the chance to bond with others, why not take a few steps out of your comfort zone to interact with those outside of your usual circle?
Gathering right back into cliques during free time would pretty much defeat the purpose of that.
Since you already have an established friendship with those you hang out with, you’ll still have the weekends to catch up with them.
It’s not every week that you get opportunities to interact with new people, especially if you are from a big church, so youth camps are a great time to forge new kingdom friendships!
There are no strangers in the kingdom of God!
Forging new friendships doesn’t have to be too spiritual or intrusive too, such as expecting someone you just met that day to spill their entire life’s testimony to you.
It can look like just getting to know someone as a person, perhaps starting with small things, e.g. their hobbies and interests, or favourite food.
If it still feels too awkward, you could play a round of conversation starter games (I suggest We’re Not Really Strangers) to help break the ice.
Nevertheless, there are no strangers in the kingdom of God!
As I like to say, friendships forged on the basis of “Jesus glue” (the tight bond of love that unites us and holds us together) will be the ones to stand the test of time.
Let’s be open and ready to form new and lasting connections with our brothers and sisters in Christ!
2. Make room for the Holy Spirit
It’s easy for us as youths to be caught up in the fun and excitement of camp.
I, too, can sometimes get carried away in a water gun fight, or while playing games that bring out my rowdiness and competitive streak.
It’s not wrong to be hyped up — nobody said Christians must be boring!
But what really differentiates youth camps from camps outside of a church context is the presence of God.
We can have the hype, but we should also have the Holy Spirit. He is the VIP of the event!
If it’s possible, give yourself a short period of lull time in between games and ministry sessions or at the start/end of the day. This would allow for some space to quieten our hearts and prepare to listen to what God has to say to us during camp.
And while suppering and staying up late to chat with friends is fun, do also remember to get enough sleep so you won’t end up snoozing during the talks the next day!
Though they might seem rather boring and dull compared to the other activities, these sessions are just as (if not more) important, since this is when most of the spiritual impartation is done.
So, remember to stay focused on Him and not get distracted from the main point of camp. We need to intentionally be still, so that God’s still small voice won’t be drowned out amid all the hype.
3. Don’t let it stop here
As youth camps often end on a spiritual high, returning home can feel slightly flat, as though you have been suddenly catapulted from paradise back into the world of reality.
After an experiential overload, the ordinary things can seem, well, rather ordinary.
But it’s important not to live off the leftover crumbs of these highs for our spiritual feeding.
Youth camps (or any other Christian event) should be more of a top-up than our main source of spiritual fuel, and we still need to consistently be filled by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Abiding begins with cultivating an intimate and personal relationship with God that goes beyond just an encounter during youth camp.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4 ESV)
God can be found in the quiet and hidden place of worship, which often looks like seeking Him through reading His Word and learning to communicate with Him through prayer.
The key to follow-up is consistency because we need to be constantly abiding in Christ. It’s a marathon, not a sprint — we’re in this for the long haul!
I hope that these tips will help you to grow deeper in your relationship with God not just at youth camp, but also for the coming year!
- When was the last time you participated in a youth camp? What did you enjoy most about it?
- When was the last time you had a powerful encounter with God?
- What is one thing you’re expecting God to speak to you about?