This year we’re trying to be as intentional as possible when promoting our summer camp. Registration opening is just around the corner – thought I would post the schedule that some of our team came up with and we’re hoping to go by this year. Would love to know best practices/ideas that are working for you getting students to camp, too!

Registration Opens April 14/15

– Posters/signage
– Stage announcement/video
– Text message blast (include parent camp list from last summer)
– Business card as students leave
– Email to parents
– Facebook page / Instagram flood
– Big church bulletin announcement

Postcard Mailer May 1st

– Postcard to current Life Group students

Invitation Mailer May 8th
– Letter to incoming freshman
– Letter to graduating seniors
– Facebook / Instagram flood
– Last year’s Summer Camp promo services

May 12/13
– Announcement/video in services
– Facebook push again
– Text Bomb
– Parent monthly newsletter push

Summer Camp Friend Challenge May 19/20

– Bring a friend to camp challenge (design what that look likes)
– Big Church bulletin tear off card
– Camp video with friend challenge twist played at weekend services

Pull Registration Report June 12th

– How many in each grade are registered?
– Do we need to push one grade over the other?
– Text Bomb
– Facebook blast

All weekends after June 12th:
– Stage announcement
– Facebook blast
– Text messages throughout the week
– Instagram

Registration ends July 8th

July 10th: Parent Meeting & Leader training
· Leader training/dinner 6-7:30- team colors announced, cabin lists handed out
· Parent/student meeting- all payments due, cabins assigned, rules/guidelines given, packing list, general camp info


You wake up exhausted. Was that overnighter a dream? Where did your black eye come from? Why is your arm in a cast? Why are there 13 missed calls from various parents? What speeding ticket?

If you’re like us, after a big event or activity the last thing you want to do is re-live all the details. If nobody died, you probably count your blessings and move on to the next order of business (or should we say the next order of “busyness”?) And it’s the busyness of youth ministry that typically keeps youth workers from taking the time to evaluate our events and activities.

After all, you spent 2 months getting ready for summer camp…why spend one day debriefing it upon your return (that’s a rhetorical, sarcastic question)? So, after a big activity, get some rest and when your head does clear of sleep deprivation, here are a few ways to debrief like a professional event planner:

Gather the troops to celebrate
Have an evening after a big event already marked on the calendar to take time to celebrate what God did at your event. Make a sort of reunion feel to the night, including pictures, video, even a student testimony or screenshots from Facebook™ of people talking about the event. Make it known that debriefing will be part of the celebration. We reserve this type of nights for camps, retreats, mission trips etc. There’s probably no need to plan a special night just to celebrate a successful bowling outing.

Talk about “The Good”
Start with the highlights — this will get everyone centered on why you did the event in the first place and get the discussion going so it’s easier to share the lowlights. What did God do? What were the stories and celebrations from the event? What went flawlessly? What was surprising?

Talk about “The Bad”
Potential improvements are easy for some people to see — so work on creating a list of what wasn’t best and quickly think of how to improve them. Time is best spent creating a list of things that could be improved rather than focusing on solutions — it is much easier to attach someone with a particular skillset to a problem later. Start the debrief asking people to “speak the truth in love”.

Talk about “The Ugly”
Things happen. Stuff gets broken and things bomb. Only the worst offenders get on this list — don’t put things that could be easily fixed here, only stuff you swear you’ll never do again.

Send off apologies/thank yous
In the course of youth ministry events you may be required to apologize for something that happened. You may want to offer to fix a lamp that was broken. Or return something that was stolen. And for sure a quick thank you to everyone involved in the planning, pulling off and follow-through of the event will go a long ways in making sure the next one is even better.

Here’s hoping your next event, and the debrief afterward, go great!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Move 2012 Promo Video from Christ In Youth on Vimeo.

Really excited about HSM’s Summer camp this July! We’re partnering with CIY’s MOVE summer camp to create an awesome week for students. Judging from this theme video … it is going to be great!


One of the best summer camp rules videos I’ve ever seen. Matt McGill in rare form – how did I just stumble across this now? Genius.


For summer camp this year we ordered a Magnum Clock and loved it. It is great! We used a Magnum Clock at our High School Summer Camp this year and after camp we decided to make it a permanent addition to our student building. I asked them for one to giveaway here on More Than Dodgeball and they said yes! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and you’re entered in the giveaway – I’ll pick the winner at random next Monday morning. It might go great in your youth room, in your office … or my personal favorite: in the main worship venue, so your senior pastor can see how long his/her sermon is going. Hahah! Enter now!


Last week we talked about debriefing your summer calendar, and we got a great response from it (largely asking the question, “how?”) and thought it might be good to devote a whole article on the topic. So today we’re going to list 20 questions to help you begin to evaluate your summer youth ministry calendar:

  • What did we plan that was a success?
  • What surprised us that was totally awesome?
  • Where did we get blindsided?
  • Was there a good balance of evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and worship?
  • Did we lose/gain momentum at any time this summer?
  • What was an epic fail?
  • Where were the wins with parents?
  • Is there an event we need to move to a different place in the calendar?
  • Was the format of our website/Facebook/blog/printed calendar clear?
  • Was there enough promotion for our events? How could we make it better?
  • Is there a sacred cow we need to shoot?
  • Where were our leaders unprepared?
  • Are there opportunities to integrate our students into the church body we should consider next year?
  • What event should we never do again?
  • Were there any surprising turnouts in numbers?
  • Where did we communicate poorly?
  • In what circumstances did parents contact us?
  • Who is a key volunteer we need to circle back with now that summer is over?
  • Was it easy for parents to find out information/download forms/get a registration packet?
  • Were entry level — core students challenged this summer?
  • What was so great we need to consider making it an annual tradition?
  • Which volunteer was incredible and needs to be challenged to be a small group leader this school year?
  • What events seemed best to invite friends to?
  • Where did I as the leader have the most fun relationally hanging with students?
  • Where did we see the most decisions made for Christ?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

I love hanging out at camp and want these students to feel like this is a special place where they are free from expectations, peer pressure, or distractions (Xbox or cell phones). But while I want them to feel free to do a lot of fun and amazing things, I think a couple of times the volunteers and myself need to stand up and say no. Here are three that happened at middle school camp that I have shared with my volunteers:

Don’t Cut Girls Hair
Since we keep different cabins for the boys and girls, after 9PM I have little control over what happens in their cabin. So I received a surprise when the girls came up and each had a new haircut. At the time I chalked it up to crazy girl time that I did not understand, but when the parents saw it after we got home, I received an ear full. Apparently one of the girl’s felt pressured to do it and hated the results. At that point, it did not matter that she rededicated her life or really made some amazing connections.

Make Sure They Eat
It was not reported to us that one girl was anorexic, but at the beginning of camp she was not eating much of her meals. After sitting down with her and having he promise to eat, it did not become a problem the rest of the year. It really was not a big deal until her parents talked with us after camp. Apparently, our encouragement and non-judgmental attitudes completely removed her doubt of self-worth. Those few days back, she ate more at family meals without putting up a fight than she had in years.

Support The Parents
A lot of junk comes out at camp, in cabin time and one-on-one’s. Some of the time, those conversations lead to how much they do not feel loved by their parents or that they wish thy were around more. This is not the time to give false hope, but we want to support an uphold the family. Reminding them of good memories, love even in busyness, and sharing in what could be after camp is a perfect way to honor the parents.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years — check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.

A little game called Spikeball is getting some serious traction in our youth group as of late. First at summer camp, now at some of our summer events. Kurt blogged about it last week, here’s a little video showing off the incredible new game.