Really enjoyed watching Southeast Christian’s ulra-creative promotion for their summer camp (called Bible and Beach – you can get much more from their website here). Love the simplicity and awkwardness of the above video, and here’s a music video they made to celebrate their new mascot as well. Really, inventive stuff:


Fun video from this weekend (in the same vein as Parker’s Life Group promo video) to help encourage students to register for camp. Fun!


I was born in the eighties. As a result, I grew up playing the original nintendo entertainment system. Shout out to that orange duck hunt zapper. Well, as any good eighties kid knows, there was a secret code that worked on many games that could, if inputed correctly, help you get a leg up on your game completion.

“Up, up, down, down, b, a, b, a, select, start” was known as the “Konami code”. It could grant everything from extra lives to extra energy to extra power ups. But, no matter what this cheat code gave you, there was one thing you always gained: progress.

One of the things that I love so much about taking students to summer camp (or any other kind of extended retreat) is that it allows you to leap ahead in your relationships with students. Lots of time spent together + fun + late night talks = earned trust. Earned trust = relational progress. Relational progress = the ability to speak into a teenager’s life.

I’ve been taking students to camp since 1999. Holy cow! 13 years! I’m old! Here are a few “cheat codes” that I’ve discovered along the way to help you leap forward in your relational progress.

One Hour- As human beings, we naturally gravitate toward certain people. In ministry, this usually works itself out as spending more time with a few select people than with others. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But youth ministry has the deck stacked against this natural behavior. Lots of teenagers are already fighting a battle against a world that wants them to think that nobody likes them. The last thing that we want, is for them to go through camp (or any ministry activity) feeling invisible or unloved. At the beginning of your time together, figure out with each student in your cabin or group a time during the week that you can spend one hour together. Of course this is only appropriate for same gender pairings and in public places. Above reproach! You’d be surprised what one hour of your focused attention can give a student.

Shuffle Meals- This goes along with the same principle as the hour. Students will congregate with the same people all week during meals. Don’t allow yourself to follow that pattern! Mix it up! Sit at a different table of students at each meal! Start conversations with students that you wouldn’t normally. Believe me, they won’t run away while they’re stuffing their faces with corn dogs and tater tots.

Use more question marks than periods- As my former boss used to say, “Camp is for the camper.” This applies to priorities in conversations as well as activities. Ask questions to your students and then listen! Get to know them and show them you care by using your ears!

Create snapshots- I had a volunteer leader who once told me that a certain student would always “talk about the same thing” to her: a time that they had raced against each other at one of our park days. I told her that he just wanted to talk to her, but only had one thing that he could use to relate. That race! Spend your week at camp doing fun things, having late night conversations about the message, racing through the grass, and jumping from the high dive! The more memories you help create, the deeper your relationship with your students will be and the more they’ll allow you to guide them to the cross!

Josh Treece is the associate youth minister at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce, SC. You can follow him on twitter at @joshtreece or check out his blog at

Just curious if there is a magic price point for summer camp – I realize it will vary among us as far as how long camp is, etc. But I think just knowing the price of camp across the spectrum will be helpful. Vote in today’s poll!


Weekend Teaching Series:  Summer Camp Kickoff Weekend (1-off)

Sermon in a Sentence: An introduction to the theme for summer camp (When Heaven and Earth Collide) by the summer camp speaker.

Service Length: 68 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we brought in the speaker, Mark Moore, who will be our camp speaker this summer. He did a great job of introducing the camp theme and walking students through the Sermon on the Mount – from memory! It was a great talk and the students were definitely into the talk for sure.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we played the most incredible game since Facebook Hack – it was called Velocicopter and it was invented by one of our team members named Hannah. So awesome! It is basically a game where we duct tape the contestants arms to their chest so they have these tiny little arms. We spilled ping pong balls on the stage and told them they needed to collect as many of their eggs in 1-minute as possible. Then we topped them off with a velociraptor mask and spun hem around as the game began. Hilarious! Here’s a little picture, I’ll see if I can find a video to put online, too. The prize was HUGE: we gave away a full camp registration to the winner!

Music Playlist: Charlie Brown (Coldplay cover), We Are the Free, Go, We Could Change the World, All I Am, Forever Reign, The Earth is Yours

Favorite Moment: I love our band of seniors! They are graduating in just a few short weeks, but they are going to also lead at camp so it was AWESOME to have them leading us this weekend. Love these students, camp will be so great!

Up next: What is Worship? (1-off)

Weekend Teaching Series:  Brainwashed (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: A look at how we are brainwashed about God the Father.

Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I wanted to go into a few final ways we are brainwashed about God and our relationship with Him. I took students through Romans 5 and helped them better understand God’s love for us, His forgiveness and desire to be in a friendship/relationship with us – these things directly contradict how we are brainwashed into thinking we will always be unloved, unforgiven and apart from God. I tried to have the message pull together the themes from the earlier weeks with the Gospel being clearly presented as well. We ended the service with prayer with all of our volunteers scattered around the room. Had some awesome conversations and times with students after the service, love it when I see our team scattered around a room after a service talking with students instead of everyone just filing out of the room.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we played a “Get to Know You” game where we used polleverywhere + random trivia facts on the screen. Students would use their phones to text in their guess which person on stage the fact was about. Lots of funny bits were built into the game – super easy and fun. We also had a good push for Student Leadership, Summer Camp and had lots of students serving in greeting, lights, camera, sound and cleanup. Oh, and we played the best dodgeball promo video ever, too.

Music Playlist: Blessed Be Your Name, Take It All, God Above All, Learn to Love, Hosanna, Grace

Favorite Moment: Without a doubt the spoken word at the end of the message was the moment of the weekend. One of our students named Ashley wrote a piece that summed up the whole series – it was super powerful and I’m so proud of her.

Up next: Summer Camp Speaker Weekend (1-off)

This year we’re making a change to our summer camp policy and allowing just-graduated seniors to attend camp. I’m excited about it and think that it will take a while for the culture to change but it could be really neat. From recent conversations I would think that allowing seniors to attend camp is probably the more common policy – seems like a best practice of many youth groups/churches. Of course, it depends on the camp rules as well! Vote in today’s poll and let’s see how it turns out.


Hilarious Hunger Games parody video the team made this week to promote HSM Summer Camp. One of my new favorites!