For many, the camp deposits are coming in. The next step will be hunting down all the medical release forms. Most camps have themes, but have you considered creating your own identity separate from the camp theme? It will give your students the opportunity to identify together and make lasting memories. The budget expense for some of these ideas is minimal, especially if you encourage the students to buy the theme accessories themselves. Another alternative would be to add the amount to the cost of the youth camp instead of using budget money. Here are four camp theme ideas to liven up your camp experience.
When students are registering for camp, ask them a random question, “What’s your favorite cereal?” Then the week before camp, buy all the boxes of cereal on the list, plastic bowls, and spoons. Milk is optional. We did attend a camp that had a refrigerator in the cabin, so it was a bonus for us. But milk is not necessary. If you are on a tight budget, have the students buy the boxes of cereal and then the youth ministry budget can supply spoons and bowls.
At the end of the evening after worship, put out all the cereals and have students enjoy. They can eat their favorite cereal or try someone else’s. It’s a great time to talk while everyone is snacking.
As a youth minister, the fellowship was always great, but I had an administrative ulterior motive for doing the cereal buffet. One of my concerns at camp is making sure students eat. The schedule for the week is different than sitting at home or in a school classroom all day. It is nonstop. Some students think they can skip breakfast. However, if recreation is in the morning, and they have no food in their system, it could create potential health issues. To combat this, we would do Cereal Buffett on the first night of camp so the cereal would be available the rest of the week for breakfast if someone slept in. It was also available for my picky eaters who were not thrilled with menu options in the cafeteria.
Imagine all the youth groups walking up to the worship center in their t-shirts, and your group shows up decked out in Hawaiian shirts and leis. I bought my leis cheap from Oriental Trading Company. Students were responsible for buying their own Hawaiian shirts. We added them to the” what to bring” list. The shirts need not be expressive. You can usually find cheaper ones in resale shops or lower end department stores.
While my group did this one mainly for group identity, you might want to take it a step further and have full Hawaiian theme night with camp fire. We even carried an inflatable animal around with us for fun. Now instead of s’mores, I would recommend fruit like pineapple. This does make it more expensive, but the fruit trays will be a nice change of pace from camp food.
If you want a spiritual context, you could talk about paradise and then transition it to a discussion of heaven, which could lead to faith and salvation conversations.
Super Hero t-shirt
With all the super-hero movies, why not have a super-hero night. Depending on the camp context, you might be able to get away with full costume party, but most camps I attended would frown on it. So, the alternative is t-shirts with the super-hero or super-hero iconic symbol on it.
This could lead to some great discussion about team work of super powers (Avengers or Justice League),which could transition to our own teamwork of using our gifts and talents to reach our families, schools, and community for Jesus.
I would love to hear your ideas on ways to get creative in the camp experience. The goal is to make memories and create community within the group. As a caution, always check with the host of the camp to make sure outside food can be brought in.