My daughter and I are all signed up for camp again. This will be the third year we've gone. Some may say I'm crazy for going to camp at the age of 42 (and they may be right), but when your daughter asks you to be her leader, you do it because: 1) there probably won't be many more summers when she wants me at camp, and 2) we make camp a priority for our kids (and here's why).
This is also the first year my son is able to go. I'm excited for him and for my husband who is going as his leader, even though he's never been to camp before! So, in honor of all you church camp veterans and the newbies, I'm sharing my top 10 tips for camp leaders. We need all the help we can get, because camp at the age of 42 is an entirely different experience than camp at the age of 15, or 25 (or, who are we kidding...35)!
1. Be informed. Read the information, attend the meetings, and ask questions. The more you know, the more prepared you will be, which leads me to #2...
2. Be prepared. Don't simply read the information, do what it says. Camp organizers didn't create those guidelines because they were bored one day. They have answered hundreds of questions, handled numerous issues, and lived through camp a time or two themselves. Glean from their wisdom.
3. Get sleep. Between homesick campers and sturdy-but-not-so-comfy cots, you won't get much sleep at camp. Don't start out exhausted; do your best to go into camp rested. (And make time to catch up on it after).
4. Eat well. If you're over the age of 30, you understand your body doesn't bounce back from physical strain quite like it used to. Whether you're over 30 or not, your body can use all the help it can get to endure the physical rigor that comes with camp. That means nutrition, and lots of it! Camp food isn't typically health food, but you can find good options if you try, so do the best you can.
5. Pray. Don't forget to prepare your spirit as well. God may have an opportunity just waiting for you to impact a student's life. After all, that's the whole reason you're there, right?
6. Pack light. If there is a suggested packing list, follow it. It's there for a reason. It will help you determine what types of clothing you will need. Are chapels dressy or casual? What type of athletic activities should you prepare for? Do you need bedding? Flashlights? An alarm clock? Following a list, will help you be prepared without overdoing it.
7. Check your preferences at the door. There's a good chance something will happen over the course of the week that you don't care for. See that as your opportunity to put on your big boy or big girl pants and be the adult. Campers will look to you in how to respond, so dig deep to find a good attitude and set an example.
8. Build relationships. You're there for the kids, so be there for the kids. Make an effort to search out that one kid who isn't having a great time and include him. Find that girl who is especially homesick and help her make friends.
9. Be the adult. You're not simply an oversized camper. You are the adult...so be one. Make every effort to reflect the standards, the attitude, and the heart of the camp leaders. You are an extension of their leadership.
10. Have fun! Church camp can become one of your fondest memories if you go into it prepared and have the right attitude. So when all is said and done, relax and enjoy it!
Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.