Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Rethinking Church Camp 2010

    It's that time of year again. Right? Seriously, now may be a good time to start planning for next summer's church camp. I just finished Fred Craddock's new book: Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots. Fred is one of the most influential preaching voices in North America and a member of the denomination in which I belong--Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

    I expected the book to be a reflection of his days spent in the pulpit and teaching in seminary. Instead, Fred reflects on his early years and how his experiences as a teenager, particularly at church camp, formed his understanding of being called by God to preach.

    At one point, while recalling his camping days, Fred says, "My most significant, and frequent conversation partners...were ministers. Older ministers." Then he says, "Apparently I am reporting on a time before the churches decided to turn their young people over to young ministers, some of them but a few years older than their charges."

    To be fair, Fred notes that perhaps such changes were necessary. But I think his points, and experiences, are genuine. All too often we look for younger adults and college youth to help be counselors. But what if next summer we intentionally focused on having older adults present at camp. You could even have several "Camp Chaplains." Maybe we need to be more intentional about briding the gap between generations?

    I tend to agree with Fred when referring to these "older" ministers who helped develop his sense of call he says, "They were present, available, nonintrusive, [and] good listeners..." Isn't this what we look for in our camp staff?


    DaYouthGuy said...

    Boy was I worried when I saw the headline on your post. Been hearing some camp bashing recently "outdated program" "no longer relevant" kind of thing. I completely disagree with those trains of thought.

    I'm in complete agreement with Fred Craddock. Until recently I was the youngest member of our Senior High Conference staff (I turn 52 far sooner than I prefer to think about). We've added in a few younger members but the average age of the staff is probably still late middle age with several members at or near retirement age. Our young people have had NO difficulty in connecting with these people. In fact one of our oldest staff people has an amazingly strong connection with the youth. I'll be very sorry the year he says he's stepping down.

    Jay Miklovic said...

    Good blog post

    I think it is appropriate to discuss this even beyond camping ministry, and discuss what older leadership means in our individual youth programs.

    How do you get older adults involved in youth ministry? Most older adults feel that youth culture has passed them by, and all this pressure for youth min to be 'relevant' has left them feeling incapable of offering anything. Of course as leaders we know that to be untrue... but how do we communicate that to the older members who we see as being potentially gifted for youth ministry?

    The only answer I have come up with is service. Tangible service work seems to level the generational playing field, the kids know the adult has something to offer, the adult knows they have something to offer... it works.

    Other than intergenerational service work what other ways have you found to involve older lets say 45+ year olds in ministry? (Sorry if that number offends anyone).

    Squires2Knights Ministries said...

    I met monthly with a group of teen young men for over four years. I made it clear to the older men involved in the lives of these boys that their involvement was extremely important. So I had several dads and step-dads participate at each meeting.

    We met for about five hours, starting out with a long outdoor activity. These men, ranging from ages 35 to 55, always had a great time with the teens. The activity time tended to help break the generation gap, improving the fellowship and discussion time later at each meeting.

    The discussions always centered around Christ-centered manhood. And God was definitely doing His work with these teen young men.

    Great topic.