Last year we had an amazing opportunity to go on our very first Youth Camp. It was 3 days and 2 nights over a weekend (at the beginning of the school holidays), and it was the first time we’d all been away together as a big group. We spent about 3 months planning it, doing loads of paperwork, running a fundraiser, sourcing equipment, gathering donations, and in general getting really excited about it! And it was so worth it because we all had such a great time and saw our goals met.
The flipside to running a big, all-out Youth Camp is that it often takes a while to recover from. A lot of energy goes into it! We were lucky here as we had two weeks of school holidays to recover (although my hubby was back to full time work after only a couple of days), so by the time we got back to our regular Youth nights we were ok.
This year we had hoped to have another big, all-out Youth Camp. However, for a couple of reasons it’s not looking likely. So in lieu of potentially not being able to have camp later in the year, we decided to have a Mini Youth Camp instead!
What a Mini Youth Camp looks like:
A Mini Youth Camp is basically an overnight trip. We arranged with a couple in our church to bring the Youth out to their farm, stay in tents for a night, have a bonfire, a few worship jams, play some games, and head home after lunch. Simple, right?
It keeps the cost down.
Our big, all-out Youth Camp cost students $50 each. While this is already pretty reasonable for a camp, for parents with multiple kids going it can quickly add up. Having a Mini Youth Camp means the cost is way more affordable. (Ours was $10.)
There’s less planning (and paperwork).
For our camp last year there was lots to plan due to 1) the length of the camp, 2) the travel involved, and 3) the necessary paperwork. For a Mini Youth Camp (less than 24hrs long) you don’t need to plan a heap of different activities. You can have 1 or 2 and that’s plenty. Of course, there is still paperwork to be done, but less of it. Our planned activities were worship on the porch, a bonfire, and a bush walk. The rest of the time was free time for our students and they filled it in with music, board games, soccer, and eating.
It’s way less stressful.
As much as I love planning events, and as much as I LOVED camp last year, it did get stressful at times. Things like making sure everyone is at their activity or doing their chores, and no one leaves any gear behind when we leave. With a Mini Youth Camp the vibe is already way more low key. We didn’t even have chores, and the majority of the time was free time.
We achieved the same outcome as our big Youth Camp.
Our goal with our big camp last year was to build relationship and develop a family culture. It was awesome to see that happening over the whole weekend of that camp, and again during our Mini Camp. We had new students that just fit right in. I think that just shows that you don’t need to have a full timetable of team building activities or spend heaps of money to build a family culture. It happens naturally when they’re free to be themselves.
- What’s your experience? Have you found similar things when running a shorter, low-key camp?
- What other differences have you noticed between Youth Camps?