As the word “canceled” continues to appear in announcements you have probably received this season, the pressure can be high to replace those plans with something different. You may find yourself struggling to keep creative juices flowing and wondering, “How on earth am I going to keep my kids engaged this summer?”
You are not alone. Parents, you have been MVPs during this season, and from our camp family to yours, we want to help take the weight off your shoulders of camp being canceled this summer and equip you and your family with some practical tips on what camp at home can look like for you.
Lifeway’s Camp Ministries Are Here To Help
Although, Lifeway’s Student Life Camp, Student Life for Kids Camp, CentriKid Camp, and FUGE Camps are unable to host camp like we know and love this summer, we want to stay connected with you in a different fashion this summer. Nothing can replace physically gathering together at camp; however, certain aspects of camp can make a virtual appearance in your home. Our team at Student Life is hard at work creating a virtual night of worship along with a three-day devotional for your student or kid to experience at home. Our heart behind offering this is not to try and replace camp, but more so to give you the tools for your student or kid to encounter God in a way that is different from your normal routine. (You can find some of our free resources here!)
So keep an eye out for the Student Life and Student Life for Kids Night of Worship, including a three-day devotional, parent/leader’s guide, and fun games. More details will be sent to your student pastor or children’s minister’s inbox within the coming weeks! We trust that God is doing abundantly more in this season than we could ever ask or imagine.
First-Time Campers: That’s You, Mom and Dad
Parents, this may be the first time you’ve ever been able to experience the thing your students or kids rave about during the summer: CAMP! Why not take full advantage of this opportunity? These could be some of the sweetest memories you make with your student or kid in a season full of uncertainty. Engage with them, get excited with them. Go to summer camp with them!
In The Comforts of Your Own Home
Worship services are a huge part of camp. For many, this is the point of the day where students and kids really start to open up to how the Lord is working and moving in and around them. So many online tools are available to create your own worship experience at home. Thankfully, resources like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram Live, and even your local church’s website are great outlets for gaining access to anything from a song to a full church service.
However, it can be easy to forget that a stage, lights, and surround sound are not the core of worship, but rather it’s a heart postured to bring all glory and praise to God. A time of worship at home can be a great opportunity to talk to your student or kid about a time you personally encountered Christ through worship and what that meant for your personal relationship with the Lord. Worshiping with a community of believers can be intimidating whether you are mature in your walk with Jesus or new to a relationship with Him. So what better time than now to teach, by example, a heart of worship postured toward God in the comfort and safety of your own home?
Welcome to Camp! Practical At-Home Tips
One of the first things you may want to think about with at-home camp is mixing up your normal rhythms of life to imitate what a day (or week) of camp would look like. Some aspects of having camp at home include waking up early (because remember, sleep isn’t what we come to camp for!), eating endless amounts of chocolate milk and lucky charms at breakfast, and settling into a cozy nook for quiet time. For morning worship, they can watch silly camp videos (found on the Student Life YouTube page), engage in worship music and a short sermon, and play a couple of Minute to Win It® games.
For REC, get decked out in squad colors (face paint is a must!), go outside, play some games, use shaving cream, flour, and jello to make slime, and get a little crazy in the yard. If you were signed up for Mission Camp, take time to write cards to residents at a local nursing home or serve your neighbors by doing their yard work. When it comes to lunch and dinner, include iconic camp meals like chicken nuggets and mac ‘n’ cheese, and don’t forget the ice cream (because we all know that is a kid’s favorite part of camp!).
Don’t be afraid to put away your phones during “camp” at home. We know that many parents and church leaders ask that technology be left at home during a week of camp to remove opportunities for distraction. After all, memories are made when our eyes witness what is happening around us, not when they are glued to a screen. This can set the space for new memories to be made. Speaking of space, try switching up the space wherever you plan to stream a worship service or sermon. Pull out a string of Christmas lights or any fun decor you may have and rearrange the furniture to make the space different from the traditional space they spend time in at home.
What about the part of camp where your student or kid is SO excited to room with their best friend? Well, we know this season comes with many challenges, and we do not have all the answers or the best practices. So whether you’re comfortable with your child’s best friend coming over for a night, or whether having a FaceTime call with them is a wiser option, do what you can to make that time special. Blow up air mattresses, pull out the sleeping bags, and have a basket of snacks nearby. One of the best things about camp is there aren’t many rules, but there is one VERY important rule: HAVE FUN! Of course, the Good News of Jesus is the foundation of all that we do through camp—it fuels our passion for this ministry. But after a week away, coming home all smelly and exhausted, what did your kids say when you asked, “How was it?” Chances are they responded with a smile on their face saying, “Camp was so fun!”
Parents and leaders, we know this season is not easy and comes with challenges you’ve never had to tackle before. Please know we are here for you, not only with our prayers, but we hope these are some practical tips for you to create an at-home camp experience where you have a blast growing in Christ together. Grace and Peace to you.
Sarah Preston serves as an Event Specialist with Student Life for Kids Camp. She is originally from the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina. Sarah served with Student Life and Student Life for Kids Camps for two summers before joining the full-time team in October 2019.
She says, “My love for camp ministry goes back to the first year I left home to experience ‘away camp’ as a third grader. From making new friends, learning fun songs (with awesome hand motions), and having older and much cooler counselors pour into me, I knew that camp was a place I HAD to go back to year after year. As a third-grader, I could have never imagined all the doors the Lord would open and lead me through to be able to serve in full-time camp ministry. Yes, camp takes so many different forms, and kids and students experience it differently year after year. But the underlying purpose of camp holds true: for kids and students to come to know the sweetest Friend they have in Jesus for the first time or to grow in their relationship with Him through a week of unforgettable fun. Students and kids say it best, but I say it too: ‘I LOVE CAMP!‘”