It’s probably a little late for this post as many of us have the summer all laid out. Some of us aim for a scaled back model that includes more “activities.” Other just continue what we have going year round.
There is more “down time” for our families. We each have a different way of filling the summer. For years it was my busiest time filled with camps and missions trips. I almost dreaded the exhaustion as each day I literally ran around from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night doing stuff and then making sure all was ready for the following day. I was frustrated when my students and their parents didn’t show deep appreciation for all I offered.
This triggered a realization for me that it isn’t about IF we do something during the summer, it’s WHAT we do for the summer.
Here are the key elements I take into account:
Take A Breath
What I love most about summer is there are less stressors competing for my student’s energy. While scheduling may still be an issue, I feel like I get a more laid back version of my youth. This is why I love to take the time to teach life lessons in action. Rather than simply sitting for a study, we serve together. Yes, we do take a mission’s trip, however, we find other ways to give to the community as well. In the midst of our projects we talk about the Bible, life lessons, and accountability.
Reinforce & Build
Over the course of the school year I have some key themes we focus on. Summer is when I come at those same ideas from a new fresh angle. I love to come up with activities that back up lessons we have been talking about, then at the end sit down and discuss what they keep learning. As we strengthen the learning, it provides building blocks to new lessons about the Lord.
Stop Talking About Fun
Here’s what I mean. Saying that our summertime activities should be more “fun” is like saying that we are boring the rest of the year. There is space however, to be more creative in some instances. Summer is the perfect venue to ask parents to host a dessert or open their home. Ask students to “plan the summer.” This is the time when they have the bandwidth to try. Could they come up with games, activities or ideas? It will take some guidance, however, try including them not only in what they want, but taking ownership.
Many times we talk about how we want summer to deepen our relationships with students. Yet, merely “hanging out” doesn’t always make that happen. Be purposeful in your relational time. Focus on ways you can get to know youth deeply, and allow them to get to know you.
Throw Out “All or Nothing”
Often the schedules of our students dictate what we do. We complain, “Not that many students come.” So what? Why do we have to have a large number of students for it to be effective? We never know which students may be really impacted just by the extra attention they get.
Summer is my favorite time and I realize that when I see it as an opportunity to be creative and see Christ what a powerful time of year it can be.