Three Ways Summer Camp Can Help Students Focus Spiritually

Three Ways Summer Camp Can Help Students Focus Spiritually

Two years ago, after more than 20 years away from youth ministry, I began serving again as a youth leader in my church. Since then, I have come to see the incredible impact a week away at summer camp can have. I get to pour into the guys in my small group every week and during the occasions when we have events. However, I see a huge need for the “spiritual focus” that summer camp can bring. Could your students use a spiritual focus? Camp can help them focus in three ways.

Focus on God’s Word

God’s Word is alive! It is the most powerful resource on the planet to transform the life of a student in your ministry. Getting students to a camp–where the focus is on relevant, inspired, and Spirit-led preaching of God’s Word–will have an eternal impact in their lives. First, for those who do not know Christ, to trust Him, and second, for Christian students to evaluate the current state of their relationship with the Lord.

Focus on the Potential of Students’ Lives in God’s Hands

Great camps will build into students each day from God’s Word. Word of Life camps in particular work up to a crescendo–a campfire dedication service. The dedication campfire challenges students to consider offering their lives to God. There is no greater commitment to bring before your students.

I understand that some have seen students make these kinds of decisions and then, just a few weeks after arriving home, fall back into their same apathetic habits as before. This can cause many leaders to think that a student was insincere at the moment they dedicated their life to the Lord. But is that really what is happening, or is there another answer?

I believe the key element lies in what James Clear in his book Atomic Habits calls, “Overestimating the power of one defining moment.” We look at the decision as something that will last a lifetime, but there is a much better way to view it.

Focus Students on Directional Change That Leads to Daily Habits

Decisions made at camp should be looked at as one step–a big step for sure–but just one defining moment. Look at the full quote from Atomic Habits

“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.”

We should be very excited for campfire decisions, because many times, they represent a directional change. Camp is vital to helping a student put a stake in the ground to live for God! It helps them to refocus and, many times, get off a destructive path and turn in a new direction towards the Lord.

But you, as a youth leader, need to have a spiritual growth plan for the other 51 weeks of the year. You can maximize the impact that comes from camp as a student’s heart is softened and prepared by months of pursuing the Lord. This is what we sometimes miss. There are students who come to youth group week after week and are growing daily in their personal relationship with the Lord through personal spiritual disciplines. This has a gradual but cumulative effect that is multiplied through a powerful ministry event like a week of youth camp. To us, it seems like it all happened in a moment, but in reality, it was the week-in, week-out ministry of the other 51 weeks of the year that laid the foundation for this impact.

Camp is a great investment, but if you want to maximize your impact, have a spiritual growth plan in place for the other 51 weeks of the year.

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