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.

Here’s the final few funny-but-serious rules for Summer Camp. You can view the first one here and a few others here to see the complete yet. Anything for youth ministry, right?


We decided to do a fun-but-real take on our Summer Camp rules this year (here’s the original post) and thought you might enjoy a couple more of the posters we’ve made up for camp.


We’re doing a fun take on HSM Summer Camp’s rules – instead of the stuffy normal bullet list of things to not do, we did a quick photo shoot and summarized the rules. Hopefully still clear and not to diminish their enforcement, but given a little more creatively. Fun, right? I’ll post all 8 as we get a little closer to camp so I don’t spoil them for students.



Don’t know you’ve heard about Dare 2 Share’s interactive webinar training this Tuesday (May 17th) with Greg Stier. It is designed for youth leaders who are nervous about evangelism and looks super. Check out Evangephobia for more details and to sign up!

Evangelism. For many, this word conjures up images of a street-corner preacher or a madman using a bullhorn and thumping people on the head with a Bible. But are those the only options? Join Greg Stier, President of Dare 2 Share Ministries for a lively, interactive webcast about sharing our faith and its role in youth ministry. You and other youth leaders will explore some of the most common fears surrounding evangelism, learn how it can help accelerate spiritual growth in your teenagers, and discover simple steps you can take to make it fit within your current youth ministry.


How often do you meet all together with your youth ministry volunteers? Vote in this week’s poll! As for me, we currently meet 2-3 times a year all together. You?


Can’t afford to take your volunteers to a conference this year? Looking for some youth worker training during the Christmas slowdown or to kickoff the New Year? Lots of great options on sale this week at Simply Youth Ministry. Check them out now!


A couple years ago, we started to charge students to join a small group in our youth ministry. Why? Good question – honestly, I’ve had to explain this on occasion to parents, so writing it out here will help me articulate the answer. Just for perspective, as a youth group we budget $0 for Life Groups, the money raised by registration fees goes to cover resources, trainings and materials. Here’s the details:

LIVE Bible
The most important item a student will receive is their new Bible. This year we moved away from the Life Application Bible to use the LIVE Bible. Really, really like this Bible, excited to get it in students’ hands. The Bible retails for $22.99 but can be picked up for $15-18 pretty easily.

Alternate Resource
In the case the student already has a LIVE Bible, we offered up some alternate resources for students to use over the course of the year. This year we gave a Bible study book or a pocket Bible commentary.

Student Journal
We gave students a small journal to write down their learnings and record prayer requests from their group. We’ve printed different ones over the years, sometimes they’re simple like a little Mead notebook with a sticker on it, sometimes more complicated. Either way, we want students to have something in their hand to write down what they’re learning.

LIVE curriculum
Students don’t feel the actual return on this one like getting a physical item like a Bible or journal – but they’ll feel it each week during the teaching time. LIVE isn’t cheap – $499 for the first year and $99 every year after, but we love it and it has quickly become part of our 4-year teaching plan.

Once again, something students won’t feel tangibly, but it should be felt intangibly every moment of the school year. We pour into volunteers, giving them training, discussion groups, resources (like 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders) and more. Every minute we pour into small group leaders is a chance to pour into 5-10 students.

Not saying that your youth ministry should charge for small groups next year, but it is working for us, and students are getting a TON of bang for their thirty bucks.