ARE YOUTH CAMPS a necessity or a good programme to have?
A survey of 10 youth ministries finds that all of them run a youth camp every year or every two years. It is no longer a “special” programme but a regular ministry event.
A typical youth camp ranges from three to five days, has a participation rate of 50 to 60 per cent of the youths in the church, has an average subsidy of $50 per camper, has a camper-to-leader (or committee member) ratio of 5:1, and requires six months of preparation.
Do the “outcomes” justify the resources invested? For those of us who were once campers, we may not remember details of speaker sessions but we remember the laughter from playing silly games and the agony from creative late-night pranks. Not unlike our men who have gone through National Service and athletes who endured gruelling training, we suﬀered together but also celebrated together. These shared memories are a priceless foundation for forging communities.
The first church was born out of believers who shared in the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ through community living. It was a safe place to question and to cry, and a platform where rhythms of worship, reflection and practical Christian living could be weaved.
Most of the youth ministries interviewed felt that the outcomes of building community as well as the possibility of extended times of worship and sharing outweighed the opportunity costs of running the camp in relation to any other programme.
Evangelistic youth camps (such as those oﬀered by Youth for Christ and Scripture Union) have evolved along with the growth of the church. The majority of campers today are Christians, many of them second-generation. They need to embrace a faith that can be called their own, within a context that is uniquely theirs. is shift has changed the purpose of many camps from being primarily evangelistic to one of building and equipping – i.e. to prepareyouth for ministry within and mission outside the church. Finally, the youth camp is not a one-oﬀ, stand-alone programme. It must be part of the larger church’s long-term discipleship goal and vision.
We need to ask: How can our camps help in our youth’s discipleship for the next five years? How can we run camps to model authentic Christian community living as it should be? How can we ensure that our youth camps do not become a yearly dose of “high” that neglects the indispensable work of mentoring and follow-up in between?
Are youth camps a necessity, or a good thing to have? It all depends if you know what you want it for.
Poon Pek Ya is a full-time youth worker in TRAC Youth Ministries (Truthmin).
The Youth Camp: More than just fun
THE METHODIST CHURCH IN SINGAPORE (MCS) has given more than half a million dollars to victims of the Sichuan earthquake in China and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.
A total of $538,638.95 was raised by MCS members following requests for assistance from the China Christian Council, the Myanmar Council of Churches and The Methodist Church of The Union of Myanmar (Lower Myanmar) after the two areas were hit by the disasters.
After deliberations by the General Conference Disaster Response Team, the MCS disbursed:
• $222,947.47 to the China Christian Council for victims of the Sichuan earthquake (this was the full amount or donations received for the Sichuan earthquake);
• $105,000 to the Myanmar Council of Churches (for Cyclone Nargis);
• $20,000 to e Methodist Church of e Union of Myanmar (Lower Myanmar); and
• $190,691.48 to the Singapore Red Cross Society, specifically for disaster relief work in connection with Cyclone Nargis (this was the balance of the donations received for Myanmar).
The China Christian Council had asked for funds primarily for the reconstruction of churches and other buildings.
The Myanmar Council of Churches needed funds for livelihood projects in agriculture and fishing and for the reconstruction of buildings.
The Methodist Church of e Union of Myanmar (Lower Myanmar) asked for money to construct community halls, to buy medical supplies and equipment, and tools for training of mechanics, as well as to conduct training courses for mechanics and midwives. The Disaster Response Team decided to give $20,000 to the church.
The MCS would like to thank its members and local churches for their generous contributions.