Last week was Character Camp (like a Vacation Bible School) at my church. Regardless of what it is called, there are lots of kids, games, songs, lessons, and a desperate need on the part of the workers for ibuprofen by the last night. I really enjoyed this camp this year, not only due to the campers I had in my group, but largely due to the co-tent leader. She was wonderful. THANK YOU!!!
As a crowd control method in this squirmy, talkative, hyper, smore addicted bunch of kids, our camp leader would start out with bellowing a great big YOOOOO (a.k.a. yo). The kids and leaders responded in kind with YOOOOOOOOOOO. Some of the kids carried out a bit long at times. Then we received our instructions.
So, YOOOOO - attention campers, here are some camp lessons that I thought I would share.
- Smores are really good, but they taste better if worn on the face. For the very extraverted smore eater, try wearing it as a goatee. - If you have the chance to pick your own camp spot in an Iowa July, head for the deepest bit of shade you can find with a breeze. You will need lots and lots of bug spray, but the break from the heat is worth it. - When kids pick out meals a day ahead of time, write down their order. Something else sounds good the next day and they have completely forgotten what they ordered. - Be dramatic and expressive, be dynamic in your volumes, be silly and laugh a lot. - Encourage other leaders. We all need it.
- Encourage other campers. They may need it too. - Don’t overreact when you see blood, it frightens everyone and they are already frightened to see blood. - If there is a water balloon fight, know who has a secret stockpile of ammunition. Either ally yourself with them, or watch out for them. Unless it’s 100 degrees and then maybe you should go run through the sprinkler. - Laugh a lot, it is a wonderful release in a tense moment and will also help reenergize you. - Use good manners, practice what you preach, and model what you expect. - For the lone boy in a tent of girls, he may say that he is miserable because he is vastly outnumbered, but if you give him a little extra responsibility and some extra attention, he will be just fine. - At the end of a camp day, go home, kick off your shoes, and lay in the floor. It’s cool, it’s not buggy, and it’s a lot better than falling down from the sheer drain of the day. - Drink lots and lots of water. Actually, the combination I found working was coffee, water, then a V8 Splash about 4, then more water. - When you watch your teens in the youth group work hard, in the heat, for no pay and little recognition of the adults around them, you are burst your buttons kind of proud. When they get excited because they just made a little kid’s day, you are leap tall building proud. When they want to make an impact on the life of a kid and work harder and dig deeper, just in case they can, you are over the moon proud. - Thank the kitchen workers and the clean-uppers, and the traffic controllers, and security-watchers, laundry-doers, and all the behind the scene-ers. They do more than you realize and are absolutely vital. - As a leader, you need to dance around with the music or most of the kids won’t feel free to do so either. - Praise lots, pray for patience, and love each camper.