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Fan the Flame: Keeping the Spark from Winter Camp Alive.

Fan the Flame: Keeping the Spark from Winter Camp Alive.

“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” 2 Timothy 1:6 (NLT) 

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,” 2 Peter 1:12-13 (NASB) 

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:11-12 (NIV) 

We all have been there on those amazing nights at winter camp, watching students respond in ways that we have prayed and wept for. We have stood there with beaming smiles and tears streaming down our faces, watching God move in ways we never could. Those are some of the sweetest moments we get to be a part of as youth leaders. 

But what happens on the car ride home, when students get in the van or out of the bus? What happens when they get their phones back, read that first text message, or receive the outpour of notifications? Something seems to suck the spiritual life out of them again. And that can often feel much more discouraging than all the encouraging things that happened at camp. I have friends in youth ministry who have decided to stop going to camp altogether because of the problem of the “camp high.” What happens at camp often lasts long – but never long enough. 

So, what can we do? Is there anything we can do to keep that spark going after winter camp ends? I think so. In fact—and I might step on a few toes here—I think that the issue is more one for us as leaders than for them as students. 

1. Remind Them 

One big thing that we tend to forget is to remind our students of what happened at camp. Sing the songs, play the games, talk about all God did in that moment, and remind them of what it was like. Let’s be honest: sometimes, we move on too fast to the next big thing. No wonder they don’t live out the decisions that they made. 

I know a church that holds a “Camp Echoes” meeting about a week or two after camp. They do it in their main service, playing the camp video and showing pictures. The teenagers share testimonies of what God did in their lives for the whole church, and they rejoice together. It’s an awesome event that shows the students just how important and special camp was. 

2. Ask Them 

When did we last ask the students about their decision and how they wanted to live it out? Do we even know if they made a decision for Christ? Did we follow up with them in a week? A month? Three months? At all? Sometimes, we allow their decision to be their decision as if we haven’t been put in their life to help them live it out. Every great coach helps an athlete set goals and then holds them to them. Why do we think it’s different in spiritual life? 

One practical idea is to have the campers write themselves a letter at camp to themselves back home. Have them write a letter encouraging and reminding them of all that God did and their decisions. Then you send them that letter in a month or six months. What would you say to yourself to remind or encourage the decision that you’ve made? 

3. Fan Them 

The last area in which I think we could do a better job is helping students retain their spiritual decisions from camp by providing ministry opportunities to live those decisions out. If you know that an emphasis from camp was to share the gospel with a friend or the world, hold an evangelism training, and then create an opportunity in the community for the next month or two. Don’t wait too long. Fan that flame. If there was an emphasis on service or using your gifts, do the students have a ministry to serve at the church that way? Can you help them to find it? If they said they want to stop struggling with pornography, could you help them set up accountability software and be an accountability person for them? Absolutely. Fan that flame. Help them to feed the fire that God started within them. 

One time, a student I was discipling returned from a mission trip and shared with me how the “youth group just bonded together in unity and passion for Christ.” And he wanted to know: “How do we keep this feeling going?” Just as I was trying to think of how to answer his question, our lead pastor walked up. Completely ditching me, he turned to the pastor, saying: “We just had the most amazing, unifying trip! How do we keep this feeling going?” The pastor looked him square in the eyes and responded, “The question isn’t how to keep this feeling going. The question is how to keep going when the feeling isn’t there.” 

Far too often, we live, act, and even minister based on our feelings. We have to stop depending on the feeling to be there. I think we need to get proactive about how we can fan the flame, remind them, and fuel them to keep going. 

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