Every summer my church holds a Kids Camp for our elementary aged children. This is one of the most fun events we have and I always look forward to those 3 days every year. Here are a few suggestions in getting your own kids camp up and running.
Decide length of time and ages:
Our camp leaves on Sunday afternoon and returns on Tuesday afternoon. We have found that two nights is about the extent of kids being away from the parents, parents being away from their kids (and our sanity as leaders). Our camp is only offered to upcoming 3rd-6th graders—Much younger and they have a harder time being away from Mom & Dad. We also only allow church members to attend because we want this to be a time for those who faithfully attend our children’s ministry.
Identify the intent of your camp:
I have attended many camps and retreats, with each one having a different emphasis and focus. Some have focused on really challenging the kids spiritually and contain quite a few classes and mini sermons. Others focus on building relationships with your Sunday School teacher and making friends with those in your class. Our camp focuses on our children getting to know our church staff. The only leaders who attend Kids Camp are church staff from every department of our church. Throughout our 3 days, kids are broken up into groups by age and get to have a small group time with different staff members to discuss what they have learned in their lesson and have a time to get to know this staff person. Our camps have a theme each year, and there are about two mini sermons a day that are lead by one of our pastors. Coordinating quiet times are given to the children to complete each morning as well. Even though the main intent of Kids Camp isn’t to be a focused time of spiritual teaching, we do desire that our kids grow in their relationships with God.
Select the location and schedule:
Because our children’s department is large, we opt to have our camp at Cedarmore, which is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In choosing your location, think about the size of your children’s ministry and an ideal location for your church. Also consider the cost for each child and ways you can save families money. We provide scholarships for children who may not be able to attend because of a financial situation. Put time and thought into the best location and time frame for your kids camp. Our camp schedule combines fun, along with times of worship and Bible study. Throughout the day we have meal times, two sets of swim time, REC time, snack times, as well as two times of worship and Bible studies. We try to keep our schedule peppered with lots of time for kids to enjoy being outside and playing.
Consider legal ramifications:
Our parents fill out a registration form, as well as a medical release and participation form that must be notarized. During Kids Camp we have a medical nurse who is in charge of keeping every child’s medication with instructions, as well as being responsible for any minor injuries that might occur (scrapes, bruises, bee stings, etc.). We also make sure that volunteers do not bunk with children alone. The campground rooms contain about 6 bunks in each room with an adjoining bathroom. We assign kids to each room and have two rooms for our leaders. Our leaders check on each room periodically when they are inside.
Once children are registered, they receive a confirmation letter that details what they should and shouldn’t bring. We encourage parents to label everything in hopes of not having those 20 unidentified towels we accumulate every year!
Think about how to make your camp FUN:
Finally, it is key that your kids camp be FUN! We try to keep our camp laid back and full of excitement—From snack times that contain lots of soda and candy bars, to fun messy games and lots of swimming, we desire for our kids camp to be a time where kids can enjoy being a kid!
Creating and executing a kids camp can be a huge undertaking, if you have more specific questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.