Summer Camp: What works and doesn't work

This time next week I am going to be at our 14th kids camp. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that it’s been that many. I thought what might be helpful and cathartic would be to discuss what has worked and not worked for us over the years. Hopefully it may help some of you out there.

What doesn’t work:

Allowing pranks – The first year I was sort of non-committal on the issue of camp pranks. Pranks are a part of camp, right? Well the first year, a mom convinced one of her boys to play a prank on his fellow boy campers. This did not sit well with the boys and men counselors. I ended up stopping a potential kidmin Apocalypse, where counselors were angry with counselors, and kids were scared. I now have a VERY strict “pull a prank and go home” policy. What I found was that for most kids coming to kids camp, it’s their first experience being away from home. I don’t want kids to have to fear a prank and have a bad experience that may even keep them from going to our youth camp.

Using youth group games – The first year we did camp we did all youth group games and I didn’t modify the rules AND I allowed the counselors to play. Both were big mistakes. I still to this day remember seeing counselors swinging socks filled with flour and hitting kids; the flour started out soft, but the more the socks were swung around the more cement like those socks became. Needless to say we now modify the rules to youth group games AND counselors don’t play games with kids.

Allowing kids to sing on the bus – Ok. Maybe this is just a personal thing for me.  I can’t take 40 kids singing “The song that never ends” for 2 hours straight. I have a strict “no songs on the bus” policy.

These are just a few things that I have learned the hard way. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what does work, then on Wednesday I want to give you a few of the resources we use to pull off camp every year.

What about you what hasn’t worked for you at camp?

Stuff Kids Pastor's Like #105: Candy and Drugs.

Maybe it’s just me but I thought every good kids pastor knew the drug equivalent of candy for kids. If you have ever worked an Easter Sunday or a post Halloween weekend service you know what I am talking about. If you have been to kids camp you have walked in on kids “snorting pixie sticks.” On twitter the other night there seemed to be some confusion as to what the drug equivalent to candy was I thought it would be helpful if I did my part to clear it up.

1. Pixie Sticks = Cocaine. – If you have done even one kids camp you know what happens eventually. The double dog dare followed by the snorting of raw sugar.

2. Fun Dip = Heroine – Dipping a candy stick in powdered candy.

3. Crack Cocaine = Pop Rocks – I think eating pop rocks and drinking soda is the kid equivalent of an eight ball – may a child actor have been lost to such a dangerous combination.

4. Candy Cigarettes = Real Cigarettes – I grew up in a Pentecostal house where we 1. did NOT play with playing cards 2. We did NOT buy nor consume Candy Cigarettes.

5. Big League Chew = Chewing Tobacco – Loved this stuff especially on the bus or on the little league baseball diamond. Strangely enough we Pentecostals were allowed this sinful pleasure.

6. Crystal-Meth = Rock candy – Have you seen rock candy. I have. Meth and Rock separated at birth. (on a side note – I have never seen meth but when I imagine what “Crystal” meth looks like I think of Crystals so that’s how I came to the rock candy equivalent.)

7. LSD = Pez – I say this only because if there is any drug out there that would be dispensed from the throat of plastic cartoon characters it would be LSD. Very trippy candy.

There you have it. A beginners guide to the drug equivalent of candy. This is helpful in knowing what candy to avoid giving to your kids or if you are in a dull meeting like Kenny was the other day or in a kidmin lock-in like Jonathan does you may consider your candy of choice to help you self medicate.