How to Thrive at Camp The leader’s guide for making the most of

How to Thrive
at Camp
The leader’s guide
for making the most of
your camping experience
Compiled by Ray Donatucci and Donna Hatasaki
Designed by Beth Kooima
Table of Contents
Snapshots of Camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Why Do We Go? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
How to Make the Most of This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Before We Go… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Getting Kids to Go with Us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Putting a Plan in Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Packing Our Bags and Preparing Our “Selves”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Before We Go Any Further… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
On the Way…. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
“Triple A” Travel Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
While We’re There…Creating Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Removing Distractions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Setting and Enforcing Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
While We’re There…Waking Kids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Purpose of the Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Parts of the Program. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Your Place in the Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
People Who Serve and Support You at Camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
What the Assigned Team Will Provide for You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
What You Can Provide for the Assigned Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Making the Most of Mealtime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
The Week at a Glance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
While We’re There…Birthing Babies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Cabin Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
One-on-One Conversations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Leading a Friend to Christ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
What’s Next?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
On the Way Home… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
What One Leader Did . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Meeting Christ at McDonald’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
When We Get Home… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
When We REALLY Get Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Putting It All in Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Young Life: Feeding Christ to Kids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Short Sheets
1. The Philosophy of Young Life Camping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
2. Twenty Principles for Signing Kids Up for Camp . . . . . . . . . . . 41
3. Leader Resume/Staff Recommendation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
4. Prayer List for Selling Summer Camp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
5. Campership Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
6. Some Suggested Follow-Up Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
7. Camping with Kids with Disabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
8. Ten Rules for Good Camp Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
9. Cabin Time Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
10. Scripture Helps for Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
11. When Kids Ask Tough Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
12. Helping Kids Begin to Follow Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
13. The Road to Redemption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
14. Some Ways to Direct a Camper to a Commitment to Christ. . . 61
Five Follow-Up Bible Studies for After Camp:
15. Beginning a Journey with Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
16. Your Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
17. Conversations Along the Trail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
18. Traveling Companions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
19. Tackling Rough Terrain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
20. Young Life’s Sexual Harassment Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
21. Young Life’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
“Camp is a weeklong wake-up call
for kids. At camp,
we shake kids from
a society-induced
sleep with jarring
adventure and, with
eyes wide open,
they see Jesus
“At camp we
create space
for kids to
“Who started this
idea that Christians
ought to have the
seat of their pants
in patches, or that
we ought to have
camps in tents?
We talk about the
King of Kings; let’s
act like He’s the
one in charge! We’re
going to get the
classiest camps in
the country.”
Jim Rayburn,
Young Life Founder
“Camp is like a delivery
room at a hospital. We’ve
been in labor with these
kids for nine months.
Now the birth pangs
become frequent and
intense. At camp contact
work and club are happening every two minutes
for six or seven days.
Hopefully, somewhere in
the week we’ll give birth
to a baby. In the meantime, we have to remember to focus and breathe.”
Why do we go?
“I pray also that
the eyes of your
heart may be
enlightened in order
that you may know
the hope to which he
has called you.”
Ephesians 1:18
For more than 50 years, Young Life camp has been a week-long wakeup call for kids. Early one winter morning in 1946, Bob Mitchell shot
John Miller with the first blank fired from the first Young Life program
pistol in front of the first group of kids arriving for the first week of
camp at Young Life’s first property, Star Ranch in Colorado. It was the
shot heard ’round the Young Life world. You can still hear it echoing
through Young Life camps today. And it worked. The kids were wide
awake. The masked bandit was lying “dead” in a ditch, but the kids
were acutely alive, wondering what surprise might be waiting around
the next bend.
Today, leaders at Young Life camps continue to loosen kids from the
hypnotic grip of the daily grind by using ropes, horses, boats, go-carts
and large, inflatable pillows that launch kids through the atmosphere
and land them in the water. Any kids still snoozing snap out of it when
they take that first step backward down a rappelling wall or that first
step forward off a zip-line platform. It’s still working. Kids still come
wide awake at Young Life camp and with clear eyes see Jesus Christ.
Coincidentally, He looks a lot like you.
The best picture kids get of Christ at camp is the one they find surrounded by your frame. They hear about Him at club, they talk about
Him in cabin time, they see Him reflected in the excellent service and
beautiful surroundings, but they encounter Christ in you. When you set
yourself aside for the sake of serving kids at camp, kids get a lengthy,
uninterrupted look at the Lord. They have seen Him all year walking
around in your shoes, but now they see Him without the distractions
and interruptions of daily life at home.
The book you hold in your hands is a tool to help you make the most of
this unique opportunity to expose kids to Jesus Christ. It was written
specifically for the adult Young Life leader who has walked with kids all
year and is now taking them to a Young Life property for a week of
camp. If you don’t fit that core description, fear not. There is much
material in the back of this book tailored for the wide variety of leaders
and camp experiences that make up the full scope of Young Life camping today. Just read along and look for special directions that lead the
way to what you need.
Why do we go to Young Life camp?
Camp wakes kids up to see Christ in a way they might not see
Him back at home. And we believe if kids see Christ clearly,
they will find Him hard to resist.
How to Make the Most of this Book
You only have to read this once, so go ahead and get it over with.
It will help you — we promise.
At the back of this book, you will find some of the best stuff ever written about Young Life camping — barring the graffiti carved on the
bottom of the bunk you’ll be sleeping beneath at camp. There are sheets
and sheets of this helpful information, but not information that everyone needs to read. So we’ve organized it and labeled it and oh-socleverly called it “Short Sheets” — in honor of camp leaders everywhere
who have jumped into bed at night only to have their ankles
jammed through their kneecaps because someone remade
the bed when they weren’t looking.
Here’s how to use Short Sheets:
1. Look for the Short Sheets icon.
2.Find the number of the Short Sheet you might like to read.
3. Turn to the back of the book and find the Short Sheet with that
4. Read it, copy it, line your kitchen cabinets with it — just use it.
For example:
On the “Why do we go?” page that you just read, you’ll notice the
Short Sheet icon with the number one printed in it. Short Sheet #1
is an article by Charlie Scott, The Philosophy of Young Life Camping.
If you are interested in reading more about why we go to camp, turn to
the back of the book to Short Sheet #1.
See? That wasn’t so bad. Now you are free to go…Well, what are you
waiting for?
Before we go...
Getting Kids to Go With Us
Ask Early
Invitation: “I
want you to go to
camp with me.”
Team Approach:
“Calling all
types: We need
you to help us get
your friends to
Attitude: “I can’t
wait to go to
camp! You should
go! You would
love it!”
Camp sell starts the moment you step off the bus after a week at
camp. We harness the enthusiasm of those who’ve just been to
recruit their friends for next year’s trip. And when we step off the
bus and see a kid who didn’t go, it’s a great time to say, “Next year,
you’re going with me.”
Ask Often
Keep summer camp in front of kids all year long. Remind them to
keep their calendars clear. Start selling it at the first club of the year
and don’t stop until you board the bus.
Ask Everyone
Don’t disqualify kids because you think they will say no. Let them
disqualify themselves. And if they disqualify themselves…
Always Ask Again
Don’t be a pest, but be persistent. One leader asked a kid to camp a
dozen times. The thirteenth time, the kid said yes, went to camp and
met Christ. Don’t be rude, but don’t give up. Always ask again.
be prepared
When they say...
What will you say?
Who’s going anyway?
I can’t afford it.
I have to work.
Is it religious?
Who else is going?
I’ll go next year.
I need to go to summer school.
Now, who did you say was going?
Before we go...
Putting a Plan in Place
Here is a checklist of things to consider doing before camp. Some are
optional, some aren’t.
Put printed information in their hands.
Make personal contact with the parents of your kids.
Plan and pull off a parents’ information night before camp.
Plan a parents’ night for after camp to show slides of the trip.
Forms and Finances
__ Fill out and turn in leader resume. 3
__ Help collect money and health forms from kids.
Prayer Strategy
Make a personal prayer list. 4
Ask adults to pray.
Instill a vision for prayer in Campaigner kids.
Ask church boards and groups to pray.
Campership Strategy
Identify kids in need.
Plan and pull off fund-raising events.
Plan and pull off work projects.
Secure gifts from interested individuals.
Team Meetings
__ Meet with other leaders from the trip.
__ Meet with kids who are going to build camaraderie, communicate
expectations and tie up loose ends.
Follow-Up Preparation
__ Secure follow-up materials for kids who meet Christ at camp.
__ Plan camp reunion meeting. This could be in conjunction with
the parents’ night.
__ Plan follow-up meetings for kids who meet Christ at camp.
Before we go
Packing Our Bags and
Preparing Our “Selves”
The Popular Leader’s Packing List
Those leaders you see at camp with kids swarming around them like
bees? It’s not their magnetic personalities that attract the crowds. It’s
the cookies they brought from home. You too can be the most popular
leader at camp…at least until the last chocolate chip is gone. In addition to your clothes, here’s what you might want to pack:
lots of bandannas
an extension cord
pens, paper
a beach towel
cabin time snacks
plastic bags for wet clothes
an alarm clock
disposable cameras
first aid supplies
follow-up materials for
new believers
Props for team competition
and Tableau:
crazy glasses
fake moustaches
colored zinc oxide
wild hats
an iron
a mirror
clothes hangers
Extra everything
to share:
wash cloths
The Prepared Leader’s:
Body: Camp is physically demanding. Exercise and good rest beforehand will help you handle the stress when you arrive.
Mind: Begin telling yourself now that camp is a two-week commitment.
The first week following camp is key to making sure that what was
gained at camp is not lost back at home.
Heart: You’ve got to be crazy to go to Young Life camp. Riding a bus for
535 hours with a bunch of people whose definition of quality entertainment is competition involving various bodily functions? That
alone is enough evidence to have you committed. But being committed is what got you here in the first place. You are committed to
Jesus Christ. That’s good, because nothing besides a deep love for
Jesus will get you through a demanding week of camp. Two passages to consider reading as you prepare your heart for camp are
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and Matthew 25:31-46. “The love of Christ
compels us” to pursue kids with the great news that God loves them.
And when those kids become too difficult for us to love, we remember that we “recognize no man according to the flesh,” and we begin
to dig through the rubble to find a remnant of Jesus Christ. In fact,
Christ gives us great encouragement when it comes to loving needy
people. “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to Me.”
As you pray and prepare your heart for a week of camp, ask God to
rekindle your love for Christ and to give you eyes to see Him hiding
behind kids’ needs. Then the demands of kids at camp will become a
sacred passageway you are privileged to walk through to bring your
gift of love to Christ.
Following is an excerpt from an article by Nick Palermo, director of
Young Life’s Capernaum Project, a ministry to disabled kids.
The first night at camp years ago we were short-handed, unprepared and overwhelmed. At 2:00 a.m., as we were still trying to get
kids ready for bed, I left the cabin weeping. I was personally overwhelmed more than anyone else, and I was the director. I wanted to
After everyone was asleep, I crawled into my top bunk. I knew we
would be up before anyone else, getting kids ready for the next day. I
was just falling asleep when I heard my name being called out in
the night. “Nick! Nick! Turn me.” I realized that Antwon, who had
muscular dystrophy, could not turn himself. He needed me. I reluctantly climbed down and turned him.
As I was climbing back to my bunk, more overwhelmed than before,
I stopped. Suspended on the bunk ladder I heard the quiet whisper
of Jesus in the still, clear moonlight say, “Nick, it was Me you
turned. It was Me.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that whatever we do to the least of
these, we do it to Him. To this day, when it gets hard, we in the
Capernaum Project remind each other that it is Jesus in the wheelchair, in the disguise of young kids to whom we minister. That
reminder is our hope and strength. Let it be yours.
“I tell you the
truth, whatever
you did for one of
the least of these
brothers of mine,
you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40.
Before we go any further...
There’s something we need to talk about. It isn’t easy and it isn’t our
first choice for conversation, but we can’t even get on the bus until
we’ve made something perfectly clear:
Our sexual behavior as Young Life leaders must be without question
and above reproach.
“But among you
there must not even
be a hint of sexual
immorality, or any
kind of impurity...
because these are
improper for God’
holy people...For
you were once darkness, but now you
are light in the Lord.
Live as children of
Ephesians 5:3, 8
As you prepare yourself for camp, prepare to think, talk and act in a
way that honors Christ and shows absolute respect to kids and other
adults. Kids are counting on you to guard their dignity. This means we
respect the boundaries God has put in place around each individual. We
do not subject them to inappropriate language, attention or touching.
What, then, do we consider to be inappropriate language, attention and
touching? There’s the obvious stuff that is spelled out quite clearly in
the Bible (see the verse in the margin if you need a reminder), and then
there’s the not-so-obvious stuff that can get us quickly into trouble —
humor that makes someone else uncomfortable, attention that can be
misinterpreted as romantic interest, a hug that is unwanted or that
generates misleading emotions.
So in the best interest of everyone involved, we ask you to comply with
the following guidelines (not a comprehensive list):
■ Males focus ministry efforts with males; females with females.
■ Don’t go off alone with a person of the opposite sex . (No need to
take a walk in the woods with that camper, no matter how much
he or she claims you are the one he or she needs to talk with.)
■ Don’t assume that others welcome your hug or your touch. And
when hugging a person of the opposite sex, short side hugs have
been voted the hugs least likely to be misunderstood.
These guidelines may seem far too obvious — that it is unnecessary to
spell them out. But these are exactly the situations which have resulted
in accusations and in some cases, dismissals of Young Life volunteer
leaders, because their actions were either clearly inappropriate or were
misunderstood by kids or parents.
As a general rule, don’t say or do anything with a kid that you wouldn’t
say or do if that kid’s parent were standing right beside you. After all,
He is. And the Heavenly Father says it is better for you to be thrown
into the sea with a big rock around your neck than for you to cause one
of these little ones to stumble (Luke 17:2).
On the Way...
“Triple A” Travel Tips
pproach parents and kids at the bus. Meet and greet and establish
from the start that YOU ARE THE LEADER.
ssume a servant’s role. Help load luggage. Take the worst seat. Get
last in line at McDonald’s.
dvantage of the time. Camp starts the minute the first kid arrives at
the bus. Make the most of the opportunity to serve kids, to listen, to
break down barriers and build bridges. At the same time, don’t be
afraid to take a nap. Unless you are afraid of what kids might do to
you while you sleep. In that case, be afraid. Be very afraid….
One last thought on taking advantage of the time: if your bus is one
of those high-tech contraptions with televisions and VCRs, limit the
amount of viewing time. Don’t make the bus ride a spectator sport.
Turn off the TV and interact.
Road Trip Survival Kit
trivia questions
breath mints
pain reliever
travel toothbrush
bottled water
travel bingo with prizes
video camera
extra batteries for CD players, etc.
pop magazines with quizzes on fun topics
While we’re there...
“At camp we create space for kids
to encounter Christ.”
Creating space involves removing distractions and setting and enforcing
Removing distractions
Camp clears the cultural clutter from kids’ lives and gives them room to
consider Jesus Christ. Without movies, the media and personal music
systems to preoccupy their senses, without the demands of daily
schedules and the relational ruts that sometimes characterize life at
home, kids find new freedom to investigate the person of Christ and the
claims He makes about Himself.
Note: When kids get to camp, we check all personal music sys tems at the door. CD players, Walkmans, etc., are collected in
bags and locked in a safe until the end of the week. Prepare
kids ahead of time for this procedure. This is an instance when
surprising kids won’t work in your favor.
Setting and enforcing boundaries
Property boundaries. The assigned team will outline the property
boundaries shortly after you arrive. It is our responsibility to help keep
kids within those boundaries at all times.
Note: One of the boundaries at camp involves creating space
for kids to smoke. Young Life does not forbid kids’ smoking on
camp property. However, we must comply to state law which
invariably means kids under 18 can’t smoke — even in the
smoking area. We recognize that kids who come to camp have
not yet met the One with the power to break destructive patterns of behavior. And since smoking kids will find a way to
support their habit, we provide a limited but safe area for
them to smoke. It is essential for camp safety that kids smoke
only in designated areas. You are the person primarily responsible to see that location and age restrictions are adhered to by
the kids in your cabin.
Program boundaries. Program boundaries include:
■ getting kids to meals, meetings, rides and activities on time;
■ getting yourself to meals five minutes early;
■ keeping kids in the dining hall at the table until the program
directors give permission to leave;
While we’re there...
creating space
■ playing by the rules even though it might make you look cool to do
■ enthusiastically supporting the program and working to get your
kids involved at all times.
Cabin courtesy. Cabin courtesy includes:
■ establishing a code of conduct in your cabin that includes respecting one another’s property and privacy;
■ helping kids work to keep the cabin relatively clean so stuff
doesn’t get lost and attitudes don’t get cross;
■ turning lights out at appointed “lights-out” times;
■ respecting people in other cabins who may be getting up for an
early ride OR respecting people in other cabins who are still sleeping when you are up for an early ride.
It’s not a bad idea to hold a brief meeting the first night of camp to
establish the code of conduct for the cabin. You might tack this onto the
end of the first cabin time, or have a separate meeting to discuss the
rules. Give the kids the opportunity to suggest their own code of conduct, and then fill in the gaps as necessary.
Personal boundaries. John the Baptist said it best when the religious
leaders asked him who he was and he answered, “I am not the Christ.”
YOU are not the Christ either. You are a window kids can look through
to see Jesus, but sometimes you need to draw the shades.
Take a nap. Get away by yourself. Talk with another adult. Be sure and
make it to every leader meeting. Those times are created especially for
you. If you find you are taking no time for yourself, then perhaps you
are relying too much on your own strength, putting too much weight on
your own importance in kids’ lives. Perhaps it is time to tell yourself, “I
am not the Christ.”
By the way, you
aren’t the Holy Spirit
either. It isn’t your
job to convict kids or
to convert them to
Christ. You are a tool
the Holy Spirit can
use to facilitate the
process, but if you
are manipulating,
While we’re there...
creating space
using guilt or pressure, you need to tell yourself, “I am not the Holy
Spirit.” Besides, you don’t really want that job. The hours are killer.
One last thing: you are not a kid. No offense. You may look like a kid,
you may feel like a kid, you may even act like a kid much of the time.
But at least for this week of camp, YOU ARE NOT A KID. You are the
adult. Take leadership from the start. Kids expect you to act like an
adult. They need you to act like an adult. It makes them feel secure to
know someone else is in control. So be firm but friendly. On the edge
but in bounds and under control. Be an adult.
OK, then. Stand up, put your right hand over your heart and repeat the
Young Life leader’s motto:
I am not the Christ.
I am not the Holy Spirit.
And I am not a kid.
I am an adult Young Life leader
who is privileged to point kids to Jesus Christ
with integrity and respect.
While we’re there...
waking kids
Camp is a week-long wake-up call for kids.
At camp we shake kids from a society-induced sleep
with jarring adventure, and with eyes wide open,
they see Jesus Christ.”
The Purpose of the Program
We’ve cleared space for kids to encounter Christ by removing distractions and setting boundaries. It is within that space that the program
takes place. The program wakes kids, shakes kids and takes kids to the
feet of Christ. Every event, activity, song, skit and talk is strategically
and prayerfully designed to break down barriers with kids and give
them the best possible look at Jesus.
The program sets you, the leader, up for success in sharing the Gospel.
It gives you new opportunities to win the right to be heard through
shared risk, adventure and fun. It catches the kids off guard and in the
process helps them begin to drop their guards altogether. It gives them
opportunities for physical and personal risk. Some kids, after doing
something difficult for the first time, will become different people right
before your eyes. It’s a small step from there to a life-changing
encounter with Jesus Christ.
By the end of the week, kids who came to camp surrounded with stiff
defenses begin to soften up, open up and consider the possibility that
risking a relationship with Jesus is a ride they don’t want to miss.
“The program
wakes kids,
shakes kids and
takes kids to the
feet of Christ.”
While we’re there...
waking kids
The Parts of the Program
At camp you can expect to find any and all of the following tools in use
to break down barriers and bring kids to Christ:
• humor • discussion • team participation
• food: mealtimes
• drama • role play • 20-minute quiet times • proclamation
• music • seminars • the element of surprise • food: special treats
• Public recognition of their private lives. (We acknowledge the realities
of their lives by including their music, their cultural icons and
images; we acknowledge their struggles, their pain, their hopes and
fears. “The Broken Heart” is a drama often used at camp to help publicly acknowledge kids’ private pain.)
• Physical risk through ropes, rides, etc.(Although our motto is always
“safety first”!)
• Personal risk through cabin times and one-on-one discussions with
leaders. (Our motto is still “safety first.” We don’t force kids to talk;
we provide a safe place for them to discuss and disclose when they
are ready.)
These activities at camp can be classified into three categories: all-camp
events, cabin events and free-time events.
All-camp events are the big events scheduled in the mornings and
evenings including rodeos, regatta, Tableau, square dancing, crud wars,
volleyball tourneys and lawn games. All-camp events bring the camp
together and break down area boundaries. Kids are able to make
friends from other places. These events also allow kids to be heroes.
Each event calls for different talents and abilities and permits kids to
come forward who may not otherwise get attention. Finally, all-camp
events help kids vent energy that might come out in destructive ways
otherwise. The program directors and head leaders will help you understand your unique responsibilities and opportunities in all-camp events.
Cabin events include the rides at each camp that you do together as a
cabin. Depending on the property, these rides may include horseback
riding, parasailing, skiing, rappelling, etc. These rides are designed to
help you bond with your group by sharing a common experience.
Although you are the leader, you will become another participant sharing the fears and anxieties that your kids are experiencing.
While we’re there...
waking kids
Free-time events are those events at camp that you initiate with a
group of kids when nothing else is scheduled. These might include basketball, frisbee golf, volleyball, the zip line or hot tub. The best leaders
make the most of these opportunities to get with kids with whom they
need to spend time. It is also an opportunity to pull kids together from
different groups in order to create unity within the cabin.
Your Place in the Program
You are the most important part of the program.
Believe it or not,
everything that happens at camp and every structure that exists is
there to help you have conversations with kids where you ask them to
consider a relationship with Jesus Christ. Young Life camp is simply
one very big, very fun, very exhausting tool to enable you in your ministry with kids.
At certain moments it may seem that the program directors or the
camp speaker are the most important people at camp. But their fame is
fleeting. And your friendship with kids is not. You will go home with
them and possibly be in touch with them for years to come. Besides, the
people up front at camp know exactly what they’re doing. They know
the measure of their success is your success with kids.
While we’re there...
waking kids
People who serve and support you at camp
The assigned team includes the speaker, the program directors, the
head leaders, the work crew bosses, the summer staff bosses and the
camp manager. These people are staff and sometimes volunteers from
areas around the country who come to camp to work for a month and
then go home.
The property team are the people who work at camp all year long.
This team includes supervisors, administrators, mechanics, carpenters,
cooks, housekeepers and store clerks.
The work crew is the team of teenagers who serve your meals, clean
your cabins, landscape the lawns and do the hard, manual labor of
camp. These kids are believers from all over the country who come to
camp and serve for a month with no pay. You can minister to these kids
as they minister to you by paying them proper respect, encouraging
them and communicating your thanks.
The summer staff includes the college students at camp who run the
ropes course, lifeguard at the pool, wrangle the horses, staff the snackbar and store and staff a number of other more specialized areas of
What the assigned team will provide for you
■ Availability. They are there for you and your kids. Though the head
leader is your special connection at camp — there to coach, shepherd
and support you — every member of the team welcomes your friendship and feedback. (In that order, please!)
■ An atmosphere in camp that will disarm kids and catch them off
■ A winsome presentation of the gospel. They will “word the faith” in a
manner you can tailor to the needs of your individual kids.
■ Experiences and tools that you can employ in your process of proclamation.
■ An expression of God’s extravagant and generous love for sinners.
■ Opportunities for you to encounter Christ.
■ Information that will keep you abreast of the program, the message
progression and your responsibilities each day.
■ Prayer
■ The work staff will reflect the servant heart of Christ for your kids.
■ They will set you up for success in processing the gospel with your
While we’re there...
waking kids
What you can provide for the assigned team
A positive, helpful, team spirit attitude.
Support and encouragement.
Punctuality to meetings, meals and events.
Secrecy: we let the schedule surprise kids as it unfolds.
Positive leadership of your kids.
Wise discipline of kids when necessary.
Keep in mind that there is more than one way to skin a cat. And no ,
cat-skinning is not one of the team activities at camp. That’s just a
politically incorrect colloquialism to say don’t get bent out of shape if
the speaker doesn’t tell the story the way you would or if the program
directors play songs differently than you do at home. The assignment
team has prepared long and prayed hard for their responsibilities at
camp. Please refrain from making insensitive or rude comments to
these servants.
If you have constructive criticism for the assigned team, your first and
best line of communication is the feedback form you fill out every morning of camp. Your next step would be to run your concerns by the head
leader and ask him or her to guide you from there.
Making the Most of Mealtime
Mealtime might be one of the most spiritually significant moments of
camp. Kids eat “family style” — sitting in circles, passing dishes of food
from person to person. However, it might not be accurate to call this
type of meal “family style” any more. If we really ate family style at
camp today we might have to load kids into cars and eat french fries or
tacos while driving around in circles. Or we might have to put kids by
themselves in front of television sets and have Domino’s
deliver dinner. All that to say, sitting in a circle and
passing food from person to person can be a spiritually
significant event for kids at camp. It can give them a
glimpse of what it’s like to belong to the family of
God. In light of that realization, it’s important that
we treat mealtime as another opportunity to expose
kids to Christ. Questions to ask ourselves include:
■ Is Christ coming through in our behavior at meals?
■ Do kids see us pushing our way through the doors of the dining hall,
competing with other leaders to get the best seats? Or do they see us
showing preference to one another in brotherly love?
And whatever
you do in word
or deed, do
all in the name
of the Lord
Colossians 3:17
■ Do they see us turning away kids from our table who aren’t a part of
our group? Or are we greeting all kids warmly and welcoming them
to take a seat? Certainly we want to eat with our own kids as often
as we can but are we trusting even that simple process to Christ?
■ When we are seated, are we including all kids in the conversation
and making sure everyone is adequately served?
■ Are we treating the work crew with honor and respect?
■ Are we listening to the people up front and encouraging kids to do
Mealtime is a great time for kids to get a clear picture of Christ. Let’s
make sure we’re not clouding the view.
One last word on meals at Young Life camps: The food is great. That’s
part of our commitment to communicate the excellence of Christ in
everything we do.
While we’re there...
Birthing babies
Camp is like a delivery room at a hospital. We’
ve been in labor
with these kids for nine months. Now the birth pangs become
frequent and intense. Contact work and club are happening every
two minutes for six or seven days. Hopefully somewhere in the
week we’ll help give birth to a baby. In the meantime, we have to
remember to focus and breathe.”
Birthing Babies
It is possible that you will have the distinct honor while at camp of
helping to birth a baby. The Holy Spirit may create new life in one of
your young friends, making them a newborn in God’s family. There are
no “Lamaze” lessons to prepare you for this experience, but God is sure
to hold your hand and coach you from within. Following are some helpful hints, however, from folks who’ve been there before and witnessed
the miracle of spiritual birth.
1. Cabin Times
Once a day at camp, usually at night directly following club, the speaker will instruct you from up front to return to your cabin and take time
to discuss what you’ve heard him say. We call this cabin time, and it
often becomes kids’ favorite part of the week. Not every day do they
have the opportunity to seriously discuss in a safe environment things
that matter most in life. Here is a key principle for making it work:
Remember your role. You are here to create a safe place for
kids to discuss and disclose. You are a facilitator and a friend.
Remind yourself that you are not the Christ, you are not the
Holy Spirit, you are not a kid. And now you can add to that
list: you are not the camp speaker. It isn’t your job to give the
talk a second time. Here are the responsibilities associated
with your role. As friend and facilitator you:
help set and enforce ground rules;
open the discussion;
ask quality questions;
help kids clarify their thoughts and feelings;
draw everyone into the discussion;
listen carefully and keep notes for future reference.
While we’re there...
Your Responsibilities in Cabin Time
birthing babies
Help set and enforce ground rules
The first time you meet for cabin time, ask the group to suggest ground
rules for discussion, then fill in what is missing from this list:
■ We sit in a circle on the floor; no lying on beds or sitting
where we can’t see your wonderful face.
■ Everything said here remains here. Confidentiality is a
must. However, if you disclose something that reveals a threat
to your safety or well-being, it is the leader’s responsibility to
communicate that to someone who can help you. But you will
be included in that process with utmost sensitivity to you and
your situation.
■ We respect one another by listening when others are talking
and by refusing to make fun of someone else’s comments or
As the week progresses, you may have to remind kids of the ground
rules in cabin time. If these have been established from the first, and if
kids have been included in the formation of those rules, it will make it
much easier to firmly enforce them as the week goes by.
A note on confidentiality: There are times when you need to discuss
with another leader, maybe even the head leader, something that has
been said in cabin time. Use caution and discretion in doing so.
■ Make sure you are in a place where no kids will overhear the
■ Talk about situations and not names whenever possible.
■ Check your motives and make sure you are operating from a
desire to serve and not a need to control. There have been
instances in the past where kids have overheard leaders talking about cabin time and it has ruined the discussion for the
rest of the week.
While we’re there...
birthing babies
Open the discussion
It is important to break the ice, to put kids at ease. They need to know
that this is a circle of friends having a discussion, not an inquisition or
a time to hear the leader talk about him- or herself. Start with lighter
questions that everyone can easily answer with success, for example,
“What surprised you most about today?” This is more critical early in
the week. As the week progresses, kids will become accustomed to the
deeper discussion that takes place and in fact will often be anxious to
jump right into deeper waters.
Ask quality questions
Quality questions draw kids into the discussion. Here are some helpful
■ Ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “Did you have
fun today?” ask, “What was the best part of today for you?”
■ Set kids up for success. Ask questions they are able to
answer with confidence. For example, instead of asking, “How
did the speaker define sin?” ask, “After listening to the talk
tonight, how would you define sin?”
A thought to keep in mind:There are three kinds of questions we can
ask kids in cabin time. We can ask fact questions, feeling questions and
faith questions. Work to include all three. Examples of them would be:
■ Fact question: What jumped out at you from the talk
■ Feeling question: How did it make you feel when the speaker
said we were separated from God?
■ Faith question: If you were at the cross when Jesus died,
where would you see yourself in the picture? As a skeptical soldier, waiting to see Jesus prove himself? As a curious spectator,
wondering, who is this man? As the angry thief, mad because
God hasn’t made things different for you? Or as the believing
thief who called on Christ to remember him?
While we’re there...
birthing babies
Help kids clarify their thoughts and feelings
Typically leaders talk too much in cabin time. Don’t forget that God
gave us two ears and one mouth, so perhaps we should listen twice as
much as we talk. Helping kids clarify thoughts and feelings first
requires that you listen carefully and then ask appropriate questions.
Here are some principles for helping kids clarify:
■ Repeat what they’ve said in your own words. “Tell me if
I’m hearing you right. I hear you saying that you don’t believe
God exists because there is too much pain in the world. Is that
■ Ask kids to tell you more. “I think I’m tracking with you.
Tell me just a little bit more about what you felt when the
speaker told that story.”
■ Help identify the feelings behind the words. “When you
were talking just now, I seemed to sense you were feeling a little angry. Do you sense any of that going on inside yourself?
Why do you suppose this subject makes you feel that way?”
Draw everyone into the discussion
Here are a few pointers that will help keep conversation flowing in
cabin time:
■ Affirm kids constantly. Smile, make eye contact, nod your
head as they speak. Say, “Thanks for sharing,” when someone
has risked difficult information. You can affirm even the most
difficult kid making the most negative comment. When he or
she says, “Christians are just a bunch of greedy people on TV
who steal social security checks from little old ladies,” we say,
“I am so glad you are part of this group. You bring up some
really good issues that deserve our attention. Let’s talk for a
minute about what you just said.”
■ Model vulnerability. When you let down your guard, kids
will do likewise. Don’t be afraid to show your humanity. Kids
will feel more comfortable with a human leader than a Super
Hero. Jesus brought grace and truth. The order of those gifts is
worth noting. Grace precedes truth. Reveal your weakness and
you will bring grace, then kids will be better ready to receive
■ Answer questions with questions. Don’t rush in with all
the information to answer kids’ questions. Let them wrestle
with the process of discovering truth for themselves. When you
consistently give instant answers to kids’ questions, the conversation begins to resemble an hour at an information booth
with God. Answer questions with questions. When they say, “If
While we’re there...
birthing babies
God cares so much about me, then why did my parents get
divorced?” we say, “That is a very good question. Does anyone
have thoughts they could share about that?”
■ Draw out silent types; tone down talkers. Pay attention to
who is sitting silently. Call on them occasionally by name and
say, “Sam, you are looking pretty thoughtful over there. What
do you think about all this stuff?” On the other hand, kids who
are monopolizing the time with their comments need to be
gently reminded to give everyone else a turn.
When you are asking a question that you are hoping everyone will answer, one strategy that sometimes works is to have
an object that is tossed around, like a stuffed animal or a dirty
sock. Whoever has the object has the floor. Then that person
picks the next person to speak and tosses the object to him or
her. Kids always have the right to remain silent, however.
They can receive the object, say “pass,” and toss it to the next
person to speak. That way they’ve had the opportunity to participate, but they haven’t been forced.
■ Recruit the help of Christians in the cabin ahead of time.
If you know who the Christian kids in your cabin are, talk to
them before the first cabin time and recruit their help. Give
them a vision for their part in the process of birthing babies.
Ask them to pray, to lead by example and to help make the
other kids feel comfortable in cabin time (which means we
resist the urge to give all the answers or to set others
Listen carefully and take notes for future use
It’s worth saying again. We need to listen twice as much as we speak.
And as we listen, make mental note of what kids are saying and feeling.
Sometime later, you might consider jotting these notes in your journal
or notebook. Later in the week, when you are having one-on-one conversations with kids, it will help you to recall specific comments they have
made in cabin time. You can use those comments to guide the conversation and to dig deeper into issues of faith.
The Right to
Remain Silent
When discussing
issues of faith,
kids have the
right to remain
silent. We create
safe and open
opportunities for
them to talk, but
we do not force
them to participate at any time.
While we’re there...
birthing babies
2. One-on-One Conversations
Make sure you
give each kid
the opportunity
to answer the
question, “
you like to begin
a personal relationship with
Jesus Christ?”
Camp gives you enough time with kids to go deep in conversations like
you might not be able to often at home. So prepare yourself to go deep.
Plan on having several significant conversations with kids during the
week — on the walk to the ropes course, sitting around the pool in the
afternoon, in the bathroom while you brush your teeth. Look and pray
for open opportunities to ask kids questions about themselves. And as
the week progresses, plan on having at least one significant conversation where you sit down and ask each of your young friends individually
if they would like to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some leaders actually schedule 30 minute appointments with kids at
the end of the week to make sure they don’t miss the opportunity to
talk. If you feel comfortable with that much structure, go for it. But
whatever you do, make sure you give each kid the opportunity to
answer the question, “Would you like to begin a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ?”
Here are some sample questions to help you go deeper in your conversations with kids:
■ What do you think about this week so far? What has been the
biggest surprise?
■ What have you learned about yourself this week?
■ When have you felt closest to God in your life?
■ Do you see yourself any differently here than you do at home?
In what ways?
■ Have you heard anything new about God this week? What did
you hear and what do you think about it?
■ If you could ask God one question and be guaranteed an
answer, what would it be?
■ Do you relate to any of the people in the role play? Which ones
and why?
■ Has your view of Jesus changed at all this week? How has it
■ What questions do you have about what you’ve heard this
■ Have you ever considered entering into a relationship with
Jesus Christ?
■ Would you like to begin a personal relationship with Jesus?
■ What is keeping you from beginning a personal relationship
with Christ?
While we’re there...
birthing babies
3. Leading a Friend to Christ
Be ready at all times to pray with one of your young friends to receive
Christ. It doesn’t have to happen at the end of the week. Ask God to
give you divine sensitivity to the spirit of each kid in your cabin. When
you sense someone is ready, be ready to pop the question, “Would you
like to begin a personal relationship with Jesus?” When your friend
says, “Yes,” then everything else is simply ceremony and celebration!
The ceremony: You are the most privileged person on earth. You have
the incredible opportunity to lead your friend in his or her first conversation with the Heavenly Father. There are no magic words, as you
know. Simply speak as the Spirit leads you and give your friend the
opportunity to pray, too. Here is a sample prayer:
Father! What a privilege! I have someone to introduce to you.
________, your lost child, has come home! She has decided that
living life without you just isn’t the way it was meant to be. She
has turned around in her tracks, away from her old way of
thinking and living, and started walking toward you, her
Heavenly Father. Thank you for forgiving her for walking away
from you in the first place to live life on her own. Thank you for
running now to greet her as she turns to come home.
It’s a little scary coming home, Lord. We wonder if we are going
to get grounded or in big trouble. Thank you that you run to
greet us and throw your arms around us in forgiveness and
acceptance, just as we are. Thank you that you gladly claim us
as your own precious child, and bring us into your family to
live forever. We look forward to all you are going to do in and
with this child who has come home. And we know the first
thing you are going to do is throw a big party in Heaven
tonight and celebrate. We are going to celebrate, too!
(Say to your friend) Is there anything you would like to say to
your Father?
(Close with) Thanks again Father, for welcoming ______ home
with open arms. We look forward to finding out what it means
to live life at home with you. Amen.
The previous prayer may seem more like a sermon to you. Yours doesn’t
have to be that long or involved. God promises to bring the words you
need to speak when you need them (Luke 12:11). The above prayer simply follows the progression of the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11-24),
using that story to summarize what has happened in the life of the new
While we’re there...
birthing babies
believer. Sometimes it is easier to remember a story than a list of theological points.
Be sure to take note of the Short Sheets that go with this section. One
of them gives you a long list of Scripture references to use in helping
kids process the Gospel. Another gives you a list of additional possible
ways to direct a camper to commitment in Christ.
4. What’s Next?
After leading a friend to Christ, then what? Here is the short list of
what ought to happen in the hours and days following this important
first step:
■ Keep in close contact with the new believer. Even though
you are probably sharing a cabin, close contact in this case
means to ask periodically, “How are you doing? How are you
feeling? What are you thinking about your new beginning?”
■ Help the new believer articulate to someone else what
has happened. Find a friend, another leader, the camp
speaker — someone significant the new believer would feel
comfortable sharing his or her decision with. There is something that happens inside a new believer when he or she is
able to articulate faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9).
■ Talk with the new believer about the possibility of
standing up at the “Say So” at the end of camp. Often at
camp, the last night the speaker provides a time when new
believers can stand together to acknowledge their newfound
faith. The speaker will explain the procedure to you ahead of
time in the leaders’ meeting. Then you can explain it to your
friend. Offer to stand with him or her if it helps (Psalm 107:2).
■ Take the new believer to the “New Christians” seminar
the last day of camp. The leader of this seminar will hand
out free copies of Young Life New Testaments and explain what
the new believer needs to do to get started in his or her journey with Jesus.
■ Give the new believer other follow-up materials. Short
Sheet 6 gives you a list of some suggested books, journals and
pamphlets available in camp stores.
■ Make a plan for life back home. Inform the new believer
about any planned group meetings for new Christians once you
return home. Set up a personal time to meet with him or her
the first week at home to touch base and encourage one another. Assure him or her that you will be in close contact and very
available as he or she faces the old world with new purpose
and priorities (1 Thessalonians. 2:5-12).
On the way home...
“Having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end.”
John 13:1
Don’t quit loving kids just because camp is over. That seems like
an obvious statement, but the temptation will be great to check out the
minute the bus pulls off the property. It will have been a long week
with little sleep and you will be ready for a break. Ask God for supernatural strength to live as Jesus did and “love them to the end.”
■ Keep talking with kids. Look for opportunities on the bus to
continue conversations you started at camp. Be sensitive to the
Holy Spirit. He will still be working in the hearts of kids.
Many kids meet Christ on the bus ride home or in the days
immediately following camp.
Just a note: Consider talking with kids from other cabins on
the bus. Sometimes hearing an old question from a new face is
all a kid needs to feel the freedom to make the commitment to
Christ. Don’t miss an opportunity to lead a friend to Christ just
because he or she didn’t sleep in your cabin all week.
■ Finalize Follow-up. Make announcements about meetings
for new believers and camp reunions as well. Some areas hand
out flyers as the kids get off the bus that announce the time
and place of the first group gathering.
■ Parking Lot Pointers. The parking lot is simply one more
altar you are privileged to sacrifice yourself on this week! And
if it is a hot summer’s day on asphalt, you might actually feel
like a burnt offering. But you will be sending a pleasing aroma
to the heavens when you do the following:
greet parents
unload and load kids’ luggage
gather lost and found items and consolidate
help clean the bus
lead the bus driver to the Lord (just seeing if you were paying attention — although this would be a really cool thing to
do if the Lord led you)
thank the bus driver
don’t leave until the last kid is gone
clean and gas other vehicles that were used to transport kids
prepare yourself for the culture shock of home
What One Leader Did
I watched Renee, one of our leaders on our trip to Castaway, get on the
bus with several full shopping bags. We would soon be leaving camp for
home. Our week at camp had wearied all of us. While I was looking for
a good seat to catch up on for a week’s worth of lost sleep, Renee sat
alone in her seat with the light on into the night, intently writing. The
next day she sat with each of the girls from her cabin. To each one she
gave a present she had thoughtfully picked out for them at the camp
store. In addition, she gave each of the girls a personalized note sharing
her love for them and affirming the positive things she had seen, heard
and learned from them that week. After a very warm conversation, she
would pray for each one of them
and set up a time to get together
with them when they returned
Meeting Christ at McDonald’s
By Dan Jessup, Area Director
Ivar, a German exchange student, had always been very quiet, very
reserved. When we pulled out of camp, he looked pretty sad, so I
asked him if he was OK.
He just mumbled back, “Yeah, I’m fine,” and continued staring out
the window.
I tried a few times to get him to open up. Every couple hundred
miles I would ask him again if he wanted to talk.
“Come on, Ivar. Tell me what’s on your mind.”
“Hey, Ivar. Do you feel like talking?”
A few hours outside of Denver we stopped at McDonald’s. Ivar did all
he could do to isolate himself from the rest of us. I watched him as
he sat by himself on the curb. Eventually, we loaded up the bus. I
was ready to get home. I was tired after a week of camp. I was tired
of being on a bus. I was just plain tired and didn’t feel like trying to
get Ivar to talk anymore.
But God had quite a talk with me. Next thing I knew, I was up by
Ivar’s seat. “Move over. I’m sitting down. Let’s talk!”
In his thick German accent, he said, “Well, I did it.”
“Did what?” I asked.
“Accepted God,” he answered.
Surprised, I responded, “You did? When?”
“Back there on the curb at McDonald’s,” he said.
For the rest of the trip home, we sat together and talked. I gave him
a Bible and we spent the last few hours of the ride home underlining
When we get home...
One of the most important parts of camp is the first week back home.
Kids will experience a culture shock of sorts and will need you to help
them process the transition. Kids who have come to Christ will be vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and will need you to help stand guard.
In light of your critical role in kids’ lives at this time, please strongly
contacting kids within the first 24 hours;
meeting with kids individually within the week;
meeting with the entire camp crowd within the week;
establishing with new believers a plan for follow-up over the
next few weeks;
■ integrating new believers into Campaigners;
■ contacting the pastors or youth ministers, if appropriate, at the
churches of any kids who went to camp and moved in a significant way toward Christ during the week to tell them (after
introducing yourself), “John Smith went with us to Saranac
last week and grew in his knowledge of and relationship with
■ taking new believers to church with you if they have no church
Taking Discipleship Seriously
Some areas make a practice of meeting with kids first thing every
morning for the first two weeks after camp.
When we REALLY get home...
That is, when you actually walk through the door of the place where
you typically sleep and watch TV…be kind to the people who live there.
You’ve had a hard week, but chances are they did, too. And they probably didn’t get to ride horses or eat dessert three times a day. Just a gentle reminder that losing yourself for the sake of Christ is not simply a
camp activity. It is the way we were meant to live.
So when you really get home, first lose yourself, then find yourself a
place to take a nap.
Putting it all in perspective...
(or: We’re just about done making you read stuff)
If you’ve ever tried to explain a Young Life club to a kid who has never
been to one, inevitably your explanation is reduced to the same sentence: You just have to go.
It’s the same with explaining camp to a leader who has never been.
We’ve written more information here than you can ever remember
regarding Young Life camp. But the bottom line is, you just have to go.
Hopefully, as you go, some of this information will go with you, enabling
you and making your experience with kids more fruitful.
You can’t really understand camp until you go. But pictures are the
next best thing to being there. In this handbook, we’ve tried to create
for you a camp photo album of sorts, giving you a variety of snapshots
that capture different aspects of the Young Life camping experience:
creating space for kids to encounter Christ, waking kids with jarring
adventure to see Jesus, birthing babies in a delivery room after several
days of intense labor pains. Now we’d like to leave you with one last
image that captures camp from another angle: feeding Christ to kids.
Be encouraged that you are about to participate in the most sacred of
all services, breaking the body of Christ for starving souls. We hope you
get the picture: you are not a Young Life leader, you are a food processor
between Christ and kids. Here’s the last image we’d like to leave you
Young Life Camp: Feeding Christ to Kids
“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the
Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats
my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at
the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink,’ ”
John 6:53-55.
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life
of Jesus may be also revealed in our body...So then, death is at work in
us, but life is at work in you,” 2 Corinthians 4:10,12.
Kids come to Young Life camp suffering from malnutrition. They have
dined at the world’s table and have walked away hungry. One particular hunger pang gnaws at their spiritual gut, “Am I special?” Kids are
asking, “Do I matter? Am I significant? Is there anyone who couldn’t
live without me?”
The food the world offers in response is like cotton candy for the soul. A
steady diet of material goods, physical appearance and power and influence keeps kids always eating and never full. Maybe if I had more and
better stuff — maybe then I’d be special. Maybe if I lost a little weight,
gained a little muscle, had shorter or longer hair. Maybe if I hung
around the powerful people, if I could make a name for myself — maybe
then I’d matter. Kids dine on the world’s cotton candy for 15, 16, 17
years, and by the time they get to Young Life camp, they are a bag of
skin and bones.
When the buses roll into camp on the first day, there is excitement in
the air. Walkie-talkies and loudspeakers blare the news that kids are
coming. The assigned team, summer staff and work crew scurry to their
stations. Music plays, drama unfolds, kids laugh and adults spring into
action. That’s one perspective at least. If you examine the scene through
a spiritual lens, however, everything looks different.
Through a spiritual lens the first day of camp looks more like a scene
from the old television show, M.A.S.H. As the buses roll in, the loudspeakers call out to the camp, “Incoming wounded! Incoming wounded!”
The team of medics run to their stations to unload stretchers and
stretchers of kids. By the time the last bus arrives, the infield is covered
with wounded souls, in need of emergency attention.
As the medics move throughout the crowd, examining the ailing kids,
they come to a unanimous conclusion: these kids are dying of starvation. They are in need of an emergency I.V. Unfortunately, all the camp
has to offer is meat — the flesh of Jesus Christ.
That’s where you come in, the Young Life leader — the food processor
between Christ and kids. These past days, weeks and months, as you
have set yourself aside for the sake of these kids, you’ve been breaking
down the body of Jesus Christ into a form that they can swallow. As you
have sacrificed your time and energy and bodies to be with these kids
at ballgames and the mall and at school, as you have given up the good
seat on the bus and your last
french fry at McDonald’s, you
have broken Christ’s body into
bite-sized pieces. At camp, as
you lose sleep, take cold showers, cheer for kids on the ropes
course, laugh with kids at club
— as you sacrifice your ego
and your personal comfort —
you are preparing a substantial meal for starving souls.
When kids come to camp and hear the speaker talk about Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross for them, they may find that news a little
hard to swallow. It doesn’t taste like anything they’ve eaten their entire
lives. But because you have carried the death of Jesus Christ in your
body, there are kids who will be able to believe. They will be able to
believe because they have seen it for themselves. They have seen
Christ’s death in you.
You will have the opportunity at Young Life camp to die a thousand
deaths. You will die when you wake up at 6 a.m. for a horseride after
going to sleep at two. You will die when you decide to be kind to that
kid who is not being kind in return. You will die when you ask kids
hard questions when you would rather not risk rocking the boat. And
each time you die, you will be offering kids what they are really craving, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Many of those kids for the first
time in their lives will finally go to sleep at night without hunger pangs
haunting their souls. They will know for the first time that, yes, they
are special. Yes, they do matter. There is after all someone who could
not live without them. And his name is Jesus Christ.
God bless you as you prepare this
sacred meal for kids at camp.
Short Sheet #1:
The Philosophy of
Young Life Camping
By Charlie Scott
As I think of our history of camping in Young Life and my own personal
involvement since 1954, I am very aware that my philosophy of camping has come out of personally experiencingthat history and has developed as I worked with and watched significant people on our staff over
the years.
Jim Rayburn quoted Colossians 4:5 to us over and over, and more than
once I heard him say that this verse was the basis for the idea of incarnational ministry to kids. In the King James translation, the verse
reads, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.” And our camping through the years has been an example of that wisdom in reaching
out to kids and meeting them where they are. To Jim, George Sheffer,
Bill Starr and many more, incarnational camping in Young Life meant
proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to kids in the very best possible
way or through a commitment to excellence.
What did that commitment to excellence look like when fleshed out? To
me, its scriptural basis or foundation is best described in Philippians
2:1-18 with particular emphasis on two verses:
“Let Christ Jesus be your example as to what your attitude
should be,” or the servant mentality (verse 5).
“Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to
the glory of God the Father.” Our goal in camping is that kids
might confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (verse 11).
With that goal in mind (that kids come to know Christ) in our camping
ministry, I can point to 14 factors or proclamation facilitators that I
have experienced as essentials for defining our commitment to excellence in camping:
A serving mentality: We have a great desire to serve kids. Our
work crews historically have fleshed this out in marvelous ways.
2. Standards of excellence: We desire to make every week of camp
the best week ever in camping history so kids will say, “That was
the greatest week of my life.”
Creativity in camping: Jim Rayburn used to tell us “the best
Young Life work hasn’t been done yet,” and that’s true! Some of the
best will be done this summer.
Humor: Humor has always been a trademark of our camping
5. Food service: We have always blown the minds of kids with our
quality and quantity of good food. Our properties people are simply
Nonlegalistic atmosphere: Kids come to camp expecting to find
legalistic rules and critical chaperones, but instead find strong suggestions lovingly enforced by adult friends.
7. Relational enhancement: Everything about our camping points
to relationships — the number of people in a cabin, round tables,
the meeting rooms so that leaders can spend quality time with
their kids.
8. Creative programs: The high-powered program, built around
themes consistent with the environment, helps set up the gospel
proclamation. The program must always serve the proclamation.
The property: The care, cleanliness and beauty of our properties
cause kids to get off a bus and say “WOW!” What kids and leaders
rarely see is a marvelous group of serving property staff.
Music: Singing has always been a big part of every Young Life club
with the dual purpose of meeting kids where they are (fun singing)
and setting up the camp speaker (more thoughtful singing).
Modeling family: In two ways, we model family to dysfunctional
family kids: by the way the staff team loves one another and by the
presence and caring of staff families on camp assignments.
Holistic ministry: We are a ministry committed to reaching every
kid (male, female, multicutural) and we work hard to model up
front male, female and persons of color in leadership roles.
Adventuristic camping: From the beginning, our camps have
challenged kids by way of mountain climbing, ropes courses, zip
lines, parasails. The challenge will always be to keep the element
of adventure while at the same time we assure safety as best
we can.
Leader-centered camping: Last, but by no means least, is the
fact that we are a leader-centered organization. We have been criticized by some for not letting the kids decide what to do next. But
our strength is that we are adult friends who know the kids very
well, who listen to kids, then as their adult Christian friends, we
decide what is best for them.
In conclusion, I think Jim Rayburn was right when he said, “The best
Young Life camping hasn’t been done yet.”
Short Sheet #2:
Twenty Principles for Signing
Kids Up for Camp
■ All aspects of the trip, not just sign-up, should be covered with
prayer. Involve leaders, committee, Campaigners, churches —
anyone who cares for kids.
■ Pray daily for kids.
■ Pray for kids to know Christ, not just to go on your trip.
2. Make as big a list as possible of kids to contact. Maintain it.
3. Put together all camp sell items such as camp videos, slides,
movies, brochures and posters. Make a local trip brochure with specific information on it for kids and parents by February 15 and
have them always with you.
Sell camp all year — use it in club talks, show last year’s slides or
videos in the fall, mention it to kids occasionally and (for those in
the north) never forget the impact of seeing pictures of summer in
5. Camp sell at club provides information, but individual contacts get
kids signed up.
Tell every kid in the best way possible about the trip.
Remember, who else is going is vitally important for most kids.
Work on getting kids who can influence others positively to sign up
8. Be persistent and close the deal. Ask kids about it directly. If a kid
says he or she is going, don’t wait for them to bring you the deposit,
make an appointment to go to his or her house and pick up the
Be positive. Say, “I’d really love it if you went to camp with us.”
Ask kids who have gone to speak about it positively with their
friends. Word of mouth is the most effective means of advertising.
Find out what lies behind “no.” If a kid says he or she can’t afford
it, ask if he or she would go if the money could be raised. If he or
she comes up with more excuses, the kid probably won’t go. If the
kid says he or she would go if it was affordable, then work with
him or her. Remove the obstacle in an imaginary fashion first, and
if he or she responds affirmatively, then work with him or her to
actually remove the obstacle. Remember also that only ten percent
of those who say they will go next year actually do.
Don’t ask for commitments from kids in a group setting. Give information to the group, but ask for commitments individually.
Follow through with every kid to a definite yes or no.
Never assume a kid won’t go. Ask.
Maintain regular contact with those who have signed up through
update letters and fund-raisers and enlist their help recruiting
Have fund-raisers, camp parent information night and follow-up
meetings planned before you start signing kids up.
Use incentives to get deposits — free T-shirts to the first twenty
sign-ups, $100 scholarship drawing from all who bring deposits the
first night, etc.
18. Have parent’s night club in the spring and sell camp to them.
19. Help every kid afford it, but have every kid pay the initial deposit.
20. Don’t become so obsessed with filling your camp quota that you
don’t talk to kids about anything else. Take a hint if you notice kids
avoiding you.
Short Sheet #3:
Leader Resume
Please attach a photograph.
Directions: Please print information. Return the resume to your Young
Life staff representative with an attached photograph.
Name of area for which you will be leading ________________________ Area #_________
Property ______________________________ Camp dates: From___/___/___ to:___/___/___
Name ______________________________ Age_____ Sex____Phone (_____)______________
Home Address __________________________________________________________________
City____________________________________________ State____________ Zip___________
Height_______ Weight_______ Physical Limitations ________________________________
Church presently attending ______________________________________________________
School/Employer ________________________________Class/Position__________________
Address ____________________________________________ Phone (_____)______________
City ____________________________________________ State____________ Zip___________
Young Life experience and training. Write where and when, if you have:
a. lead at camp before
b. attended training for leading at camp
c. served as a club leader
d. attended a Young Life leadership seminar
e. been involved as a Campaigner in high school
Other training that applies to this role:
Applicant’s Signature ____________________________________________________________
Reverse side must be completed by Young Life Staff.
Staff Recommendation
❑ Jr. Leader
Name of applicant ______________________________________________________________
Property ____________________________________ Dates: From ___/___/___ to___/___/___
Staff member: This form should be sent complete to the appropriate property office
at least seven days before the start of the camp week.
Purpose: It is important that you be as critical as possible, since the leader is a
cornerstone to the success of the program and to the campers’ relationship to Christ.
This form is the tool to assist the head leader at the property, and to convey to
him/her the competency and attitude of the leader you are recommending.
Signed, area staff person__________________________________ Date__________________
Area name and number _________________________________________________________
1. How well do you know him/her, and what is his/her present involvement for growth
and ministry? Describe his/her maturity in Christ.
2. Has he/she completed training for leading at camp?
3. Describe this leader with respect to:
a. camp leading experience
b. initiative and enthusiasm
c. friendship with kids
d. listening and empathizing with kids
e. clarifying the Gospel with kids
f. sense of propriety, control of kids
g. emotional stability
h. response to criticism and authority
i. relating to the opposite sex
4. Any other strengths or weaknesses to note?
5. What kind of help would you like for this person from the head leader?
Short Sheet #4:
Prayer List for Selling Summer Camp
Likely to Go
Response So Far
Response So Far
Response So Far
Maybe. Might be interested
No Way
Short Sheet #5:
Campership Strategy
As we take more and more kids to camp, and as the cost of camp and
transportation escalates, the need to raise campership in an area
increases dramatically. We need to be both creative and legal in our
planning. Most areas have their own strategies for raising money for
kids to attend camp. Before doing anything, be sure to talk to your area
director about this. An area strategy usually includes:
■ Approaching individual donors who have a desire to see kids
who have needs get to camp. Sometimes it is best to approach these
folks with a particular kid in mind, matching the donor with the
appropriate person. Other times, it helps to share the total need you
have for several kids to get to camp. Either way, be sure you do this
in conjunction with your area director and the overall financial
strategy for your area.
■ Large Group Fund-raisers. The best fund-raisers are the ones
that reward the initiative of the kids. Car wash-a-thons and trash-athons work well because they reinforce ownership by those attending camp. Other fund-raisers include yard sales, bake sales or work
projects in the community where adults sponsor kids to “improve the
view.” (Be sure your “a-thons” run according to IRS guidelines for
tax-deductible gifts. Your area should have these on file.)
■ Smaller Group Projects. Some people need work done around
their homes or offices and will pay kids so they can attend camp.
This can be a good opportunity for you to work alongside a smaller
group of students before you go to camp, helping you build relationships and giving you a better idea of where they are.
■ Grocery Scrip. Some grocery stores will sell scrip (or gift certificates) and donate a percentage of what is purchased back to the
organization. Everyone has to eat. By getting a number of families
to do this, a kid could help raise a large portion of his or her camp
■ Some areas work at raising the entire cost of the transportation,
charging kids only the actual cost of camp. This is a lot of work for
the area, but it does bring the cost of camp down to where more kids
might respond.
Short Sheet #6:
Some Suggested Follow-up Materials
Beginning with Christ (in camp stores and local Christian bookstores).
Continuing with Christ (in camp stores and local Christian bookstores).
Welcome to the Family, by Margie Atkinson (in camp stores or through
the Young Life Service Center).
My Heart, Christ’s Home,by Bob Munger (in camp stores, Christian
The Great Adventure,by Christ Patterson (in camp stores).
The Journey Begins, by Donna Hatasaki (in camp stores or through the
Young Life Service Center).
My First Thirty Quiet Times, by Ty Saltzgiver (in camp stores or
through the author).
Considering Christianity, by Ty Saltzgiver (in camp stores or through
the author).
Growing Deeper, by Ty Saltzgiver (in camp stores or through the
Short Sheet #7:
Camping with Kids with Disabilities
From an article by Nick Palermo
Our first experience with camp was a nightmare and a tremendous joy
at the same time. We took nine kids to Young Life’s Woodleaf. With
able-bodied kids the ratio generally is one leader per seven kids. I
thought one leader to one kid with a disability would be plenty. This
one-to-one ratio is probably enough in other situations, but in Young
Life camping, the program is extremely high-powered, and getting our
kids involved demanded a two-to-one ratio. This prevents burn out and
allows our kids to be fully involved.
It is important to remember that in many cases you would have to partner with kids and become their arms or legs. Allow them to do what
they are capable of doing and then help from there.
You will need leader training sessions to teach your helpers some basics
in disabilities such as handling the wheelchair correctly, lifting kids
properly and bathrooming procedures. Remember each kid is unique
and the amount of help each kid needs will differ. Approach them as
individuals and find out their needs.
Our camping is always integrated with able-bodied kids. Many people
have asked why we don’t take our kids to camps geared specifically for
disabled kids. While this would be easier, we believe it would not serve
one of the primary needs of kids with disabilities. This need is integration into the mainstream of life. The presence of kids with disabilities
in a camp of 200 able-bodied kids has an unbelievably powerful lifechanging impact on the entire camp.
In spite of this, you and your leaders must be emotionally prepared for
the initial response of the camp. Your group will be avoided and will
receive many stares. It is important to remember that most people have
never been around a person with a disability and as a result, they are
threatened and at a loss as to how to relate to these kids.
We have discovered some helpful things that can remedy this. First,
prepare the camp manager and program staff ahead of time for your
Second, ask for five minutes at the first leaders’ meeting to brief, educate and encourage the leaders and challenge them to reach out and set
an example for the able-bodied kids. Help them confront their own discomfort as leaders and encourage them to be comfortable with being
Third, take able-bodied kids who have been in club all along with you
to camp. They can act as the best bridge to their able-bodied peers at
camp and draw them toward friendship with kids who are disabled.
Fourth, have an articulate disabled leader speak to the whole camp
briefly about what it is like to be disabled. This is very powerful and
eye-opening for other kids and seems to work best about midweek.
Last, be patient. Poor attitudes and misconceptions were not built in a
day, and tearing them down takes time. Trust the Holy Spirit!
Short Sheet #8:
Ten Rules for Good Camp Leadership
(or, the Camp Leader’s Cheat Sheet!)
The “2-to-1” Rule: God gave us two ears and one mouth. Listen
twice as much as you speak.
2. The “Nearness Brings Dearness” Rule: Continue to win the
right to be heard with kids at camp.
The “To Ponder Is Fonder” Rule: Don’t jump ahead in the
gospel progression or in answering all of kids’ questions before they
have a chance to grapple with the truth.
The “K.I.S.S.” Rule: That’s “Keep It Simple St — umm —
Steward” (Yeah, that’s it — steward. We would never use that other
word to describe a Young Life leader. And besides, you are a steward of the Gospel.) Present it as simply as possible.
The “Aim to Be Germane” Rule: Keep the discussion relevant to
the question. If someone insists on veering off the track, suggest
that the two of you meet later to wander down that path together
so that not everyone has to wander with you.
The “Silence Can Be Golden” Rule: Don’t panic when kids get
quiet. It isn’t your job to stamp out silence. Let them think and
The “Zipped Lip” Rule: What is said here, stays here.
Confidentiality is necessary if kids are going to open up and trust.
8. The “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” Rule: Ministry started
before and goes beyond the week at camp.
The “Mother Teresa Rule of Faithfulness”: “God never called
me to be successful; He called me to be faithful.”
The “Rules of Miscellania”:
Be a “There you are!” kind of leader — not a “Here I am!” one.
When you walk into the room, are you most excited to see kids, or
most excited to be seen?
Add your own:
Short Sheet #9:
Cabin Time Questions
The camp speaker will give you questions for cabin time and your head
leader will help you think through how to set up this time. Below is a
list of questions others have used. You may want to have a few in your
“back pocket” just in case you need something else.
One tip for cabin time is to have the group reconstruct the talk. Kids
will drift in and out of the talk. They will get distracted or leave the
planet for awhile. Reconstructing the talk allows them to remember
and gives you an opportunity to see what they heard and what was
missed. (If they missed parts ask questions rather than give them the
answers. “Why did he/she mention the leper? What was the point of
him/her saying...?”)
Reconstructing the story can take the form of a game. Have one person
begin reconstructing the story and then pass it off to whomever he or
she chooses to go next. Each kid is limited to three sentences and can
stop mid-sentence if he or she chooses, just to make it more challenging
for the next person.
Remember to have your Bible with you so that one of you can reread
the passage(s) used in the talk.
What is your first impression of camp?
What is one thing you hope to do this week?
What is one thing you are glad you left behind to be here?
What do you want most out of life?
Are you a chance taker, or do you play it safe?
Tell us about a time you took a chance and did something risky.
Person of Christ
How do your friends at home view God?
What qualities do you see in Christ that make Him unique?
What is your impression of Jesus Christ?
If Jesus was not God, who was He?
What would Christ have to do to convince you He was God?
If you were God, how would you communicate with people on earth?
What did you learn about Jesus today?
What are you trusting to save your life?
Who do you relate to most in the talk tonight? Why?
Who do you depend on most right now for love and acceptance?
Share a scar you have on your body. How did you get it?
Our Need: Sin
What is sin?
How good do you have to be to get to heaven?
Why can’t we be good enough for God?
What scars do you have on your soul?
Why does our sin condition mean we have “no chance” with God?
Did you hear anything tonight that was new for you?
If you were God, and you put all this together, how would you feel
about the way people live? What would you do?
■ What’s one thing that you see people do to others that really makes
you mad?
■ What’s the difference between sins and Sin?
■ How does sin affect the situation you said you were glad to leave
behind when you came to camp? (See introduction questions.)
Work of Christ
What did you learn about Jesus tonight?
Why was it necessary for Christ to die?
Is there anyone in your life that you would be willing to die for?
Do you think Jesus was an unwilling victim of his execution or that
he went willingly?
■ What does the phrase, “He died in my place,” mean to you?
■ Although Jesus died for everyone, his death does not automatically
apply to each person. Why not?
■ What do I have to do to take advantage of Christ’s death?
Our Response
What did you think about during your time of silence?
What must we do to be rescued by Jesus?
What are the consequences of refusing this opportunity?
Why do some people refuse to be rescued?
How does a person become a Christian?
What would you say to God if you could say anything to him?
What new thing did you discover about yourself today?
What did you learn about Jesus Christ today?
What would change if Jesus was the center of your life?
If Christ is inviting you to “come home” to him, where are you in the
process? Driving away from his house? Parked across the street,
waiting and wondering? Ringing the doorbell? In the house raiding
the refrigerator?
■ If you were at the cross when Jesus died, where would you see yourself in the picture: As a skeptical soldier, waiting to see Jesus prove
himself? As a curious spectator, wondering, “who is this man?” As
the angry thief, mad because God hasn’t made things different for
you? Or as the believing thief who called on Christ to remember
■ What will change when you get home?
Short Sheet #10:
Scripture Helps for Leaders
Christ as God/Christ’s Claim
Colossians 1:15
1 Timothy 2:5
John 14:6
John 11:25-26
John 10:30
John 20:30-31
John 1:12
Luke 9:23-27
1 John 1:8-10
2 Corinthians 5:17
Revelation 3:20
Romans 10:9-11
1 John 5:11,12
Man’s Need/Sin
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
James 2:10
1 John 1:8
Romans 7:18-20
Work of Christ
John 3:16
Romans 4:16
Romans 5:1,2
Ephesians 2:4-10
Matthew 7:7-11
1 Peter 5:7
Mark 11:22-25
James 1:5-8
John 14:9-14
John 16:24
John 15:7
John 15:1-8
Ephesians 4:14-16
Colossians 2:7
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Short Sheet #11:
When Kids Ask Tough Questions
Typically two kinds of people asked Christ tough questions: those who
were seeking truth, and those who were avoiding it. You will encounter
the same kinds of kids in cabin times. It is worth examining Christ’s
response to both types of people to prepare yourself to do likewise.
Nathanael: A Skeptic Seeking Truth
Read John 1:44-51. Nathanael was a well-read seeker of truth. When
Jesus said, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree,” he was
referring to Nathanael’s study of the Jewish law.
Philip appealed to Nathanael’s sense of theological reasoning: “We have
found the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about...” Nathanael was
not impressed. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he retorted.
He was skeptical, to say the least.
It is worth noting Jesus’ response to a skeptic. He pays Nathanael a big
compliment first thing. “An Israelite in whom there is nothing false!”
Jesus says, here is someone who is honestly seeking truth! And then
Jesus shows that he really knows Nathanael. Nate says, “How do you
know me?” And Jesus cuts right to the heart of what is most important
in Nathanael’s life: “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree.”
Jesus acknowledges Nate’s love for Jewish law.
That simple recognition is all it took to turn Nathanael’s theological
reasoning upside down forever. Suddenly he is proclaiming Christ as
the Son of God! Jesus finds this sudden change of heart almost comical.
“You believe because I said I saw you under the fig tree? You’re going to
see a lot better stuff than that!”
When kids ask tough questions in cabin times, we can affirm them for
seeking the truth. We can pay them a compliment and put them at
ease in their questioning. And before we embark on a 10-minute theological discourse answering their tough questions (as if we could!), it is
worth asking ourselves, have we taken time to really get to know this
person? Are we able to recognize what is most important in his or her
life? If not, maybe before we try to make a theological point, we need to
make it a point to take individual time with this friend. Our personal
interest will go a long way in answering kids’ questions about Christ’s
The Woman at the Well: Asking Questions to Avoid Truth
Read John 4:1-29. The woman at the well had a head-on collision with
the Truth, and responded by detouring down the backroads of theological questioning. “I see you are a prophet,” she said to Jesus, then began
asking him questions about worshipping God — anything to get the
attention off of her personal need and the Person of Christ.
Jesus didn’t blow her away by saying, “Quit trying to dodge the issue. I
want to talk about what is in you, not what is out there.” No, he graciously received her questions and used them to redirect her to what he
was wanting to say: I am the one you are looking for. He intersected her
on the backroads and gently walked her back to the main path.
Sometimes kids will ask questions in cabin times just to keep the focus
off of their own personal predicament. We can take a lesson from Jesus
and learn to gently redirect their questions back to the issue at hand
without embarrassing them in the process. And the bottom-line issue at
hand should always be Jesus.
Following is some information that might help you when kids ask tough
questions that deserve substantial answers. But remember, we will
never win a kid to Christ as the result of an argument. We win the
right to be heard, respectfully present truth for them to consider, and
then prove our friendship is unconditional by not forcing them to agree.
How do we know the New Testament is True?
Following are some excerpts from Josh McDowell’s article in Skeptics
Who Demanded a Verdict, Tyndale Publishers, 1989.
“When you study history you need to develop a historiography, a proper
approach to evaluating historical documents. There are three basic
tests. One is the bibliographical test...which asks questions about manuscripts.
“A manuscript is a handwritten copy rather than a printed one. One
question this test asks is how many manuscripts you have. The more
manuscripts you have, the easier it is to reconstruct the original and
check out any errors or discrepancies.
“I’ve been able to document 24,633 manuscripts of just the New
Testament. Do you know the number two book in all history in manuscript authority? It’s the Iliad by Homer, which has 643 manuscripts.
“Dr. Clark Pinnock, Professor of Interpretations at McMasters
University in Toronto, writes,
There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by
so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and
offering so superb an array of historical data on which the
intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot
dismiss a source of this kind.”
What do we do
when kids ask
tough questions in
cabin time?
We affirm them
for seeking truth.
We make sure
we have won the
right to be heard.
We gently
redirect them
to Jesus.
Jesus was just a good man, like Buddha or Ghandi.
Jesus made radical claims about Himself. He said He was the only way
to God, that He was one with the Father, that no one could have life
apart from Him. A good man doesn’t make claims about himself that
aren’t true. It is impossible to read the New Testament and conclude
that Jesus was simply a good man.
There are only three choices left, then. Either Jesus was crazy, deceitful
or He was who He claimed to be — God. Josh McDowell puts it this
way: He was either Lord, liar or lunatic.
Jesus might have been a lunatic, claiming to be God like someone today
might claim to be Napoleon or Marilyn Monroe. He might have been a
liar, simply saying whatever he wanted to, regardless of its truth. We
have to ask ourselves some simple questions. Did Jesus live the life of a
lunatic or a liar? Do we measure all time by the birth of a lunatic or a
liar? As you look across the world’s landscape and see thousands of
churches dotting the horizon, are they full of people who are following a
crazy person or a liar? Does your Young Life leader appear to be someone who would follow a liar or a lunatic? Or does your leader’s life have
the ring of truth to it?
Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed to be the only way to have eternal
life. If He lied or was crazy, then He wasn’t a good man. The only other
choice is that Jesus was telling the truth.
What about the people who never hear about Jesus?
God doesn’t give us all the answers regarding what He is going to do
with everyone else. He does make it perfectly clear what He is going to
do with us. He is going to hold us accountable for what we’ve heard
about Christ (John 12:47,48). We do not know how God will deal with
those who haven’t heard. We do know that God is both just and gracious. We can trust Him to act fairly and also graciously.
Short Sheet #12:
Helping Kids Begin to Follow Christ
The sacred opportunity for leaders in many cases will be to help a
teenager take that first step toward saying yes to Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, this is a divine transaction between the Holy Spirit and the
heart of the camper. To “overcounsel” at this point would be a mistake.
Effective leaders will know how to assist kids in beginning their walk
with Christ but will not try to control the words, emotions and
response. God has been building His family since the dawn of human
history, using various methods, styles and people. Young Life does not
have a corner on truth when it comes to leading someone to Christ.
Some guidelines to consider
Help kids comprehend the centrality of Christ in the salvation
process. Help them understand the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is real and personal. He came, lived, died and rose for
them! Use stories and verses from Scripture to underscore the
importance of Christ (Colossians 1:15-20, Philippians 2:5-12).
2. Allow kids to grapple with the reality and severity of the problem
of sin. Help them see how wide is the gap and vast is the division
between God and people not united by Christ. Emphasize relational separation from God more than personal behavioral mistakes. Being lost (far) from God is more devastating than being
“bad.” Both, of course, are sin, but God fundamentally wants to
restore a broken relationship, not simply improve one’s behavior.
Kids need to know how lost they are before they will appreciate
how loved they are. Scripture texts in Romans 1-3 and 7,
Ephesians 2, Colossians 1:2-23 and the Gospels emphasize this
Encourage the process of salvation more than the experience. Quite
often overzealous leaders will press kids to feel something, say
something or do something to make sure that the kids can point
back to a conscious moment, feeling or place that will validate the
exact time when God entered their life. Though the intentions of
this type of counseling are usually noble, this has the tendency of
reducing the mystery and sacredness of how God is working in a
person’s heart. Long before camp, God has been bringing people,
experiences, attitudes and questions into a kid’s life, shaping them
to respond to Him. And long after the Young Life camp is over, God
will continue to love, lead and mold the life of that kid. We have the
privilege to participate in the process, but we do not have the
responsibility to produce the experience!
Allow kids to feel, question and doubt. Encourage them to move at
their own pace. Challenge them to entrust their life into Christ’s
care, but do not rely on a particular formula to make it happen.
God’s spirit is quite capable of drawing kids to Himself. Encourage
kids to spend time alone in quiet reflection. Ask them hard and
challenging questions about Christ and spiritual things. Help them
to know the implications of being a follower of Christ. But do not
tell them exactly how to become a Christian or try to explain to
them how to feel. We simply do not fully know (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Emphasize God’s commitment to them as stronger than their initial commitment to God. Kids need to know and feel confident that
God, not them, is really the author and creator of the salvation
process. It is God’s good decision about them that takes precedence
over a kid’s decision about God. Yes, the relationship is mutual, but
kids need to know that God is actively working to draw them close
to His heart and He will not run away if a kid stumbles, falls,
doubts, sins. Romans 8 and John 17 are good places to direct kids
in this issue.
Encourage kids to see that beginning with Christ is the start of a
long and vast journey. They need to know that maturity and development will be gradual. Birth is important, but it is only a starting
point. Many factors will contribute to strengthening one’s relationship with Christ. Below are some aspects of the journey of faith.
■ The importance of Church (the larger body of Christ). Help
young Christians get started in some form of regular worship
in their local community. Introduce them to people who could
assist them in building an active and consistent love of worship and service.
■ The necessity of Scripture. Point kids toward effective ways
of making the Bible and its truths a regular part of their
Christian growth. Personal reading, Bible study groups, verse
memory and personal discipleship are some of the ways to help
make Scripture central for kids.
■ The joy of service. Very early in the faith journey of a young
Christian, the challenge of service should be taught. The body
of Christ is a giving, sharing and serving body. There are
numerous ways to help kids begin to serve, but let them know
that life in Christ will mean working with Him in His world.
■ The privilege and purpose of prayer. Teach young
Christians to pray! Let them know how vital a regular communication link is with God. Make sure they learn that prayer is
more than figuring out our wants and needs and then putting
together a request list. Teach them the joy and necessity of regular, intimate communion with God.
■ The responsibilities of membership in the Christian
family. Faith in Christ, though personal, is not a private experience. Fellowship, learning and sharing our life in Christ is a
corporate experience. Provide environments or help kids find
groups where authenticity, vulnerability, compassion and commitment are expressed between group members. Kids need
Christian communities to grow and stay healthy.
Short Sheet #13:
The Road to Redemption
Gen. 1-3
Psalms 8
God’s universe and God’s people
specially created by and for a loving,
caring creator.
Fall (sin)
Rom. 1-3, 7
Gen. 3
God’s human creation turned away to
live life separate from creator.
Humankind decided to live without a
relationship with God. All people being
sinful are in need of God’s restoration.
Matthew, Mark
Luke, John
Col. 1:15-21
Phil. 2:5-12
God, expressing Himself in human
terms through His Son Jesus Christ,
came to reveal God and also pay the
price for sin and separation from God.
Matt. 27-28
Resurrection Mark 15,16
Luke 23-25
John 19,20
God, in Christ, gave His life on the
cross as sufficient sacrifice for the sins
of the world. God raised Christ through
the resurrection to rule and to reign
eternally as head of the new creation of
all who trust and follow Him.
Response to
Christ’s call
to His
God’s spirit calls people to trust in
Christ, to turn away from the old life of
sin and separation and follow Him. The
spirit of God comes to dwell in each
person’s life, empowering them to live
for Christ and to be a member of His
John 3:1-21
Eph. 2:8-10
2 Cor. 5:17-21
Eph. 2:19-22
Col. 3:1-17
God calls His family to a life of truth,
Life and
Eph. 4-6
service and justice. Christians are
Responsibility Matt. 25:31-46 responsible for living lives worthy of
His call and faithful to His word.
Return of
Rev. 20-22
Matt. 24,25
Christ will return to earth and
establish His kingdom and all who
have trusted and followed Him will
live and serve forever with Him.
Short Sheet #14:
Some Ways to Direct a Camper to a
Commitment to Christ
Often a kid will not have enough social facility to ask a question such
as, “What must I do to become a Christian?” Yet, nonverbally, this is
often exactly what a teenager is expressing. A good leader is able to
hear this question whether it is verbalized or not!
After we have won the right to be heard, perhaps one of these
is the type of approach a leader might make:
■ You know ___________, Jesus Christ is very big, very real, very personal in my life. Can you share with me where you are in your relationship with Him? Has there ever come a time when you’ve
actually invited Him into your life as your Savior and Lord?
■ ___________ spoke tonight about how a person comes to know Jesus
Christ. How do you feel about the possibility of knowing Christ?
■ ___________, you know that Jesus Christ loves you, that He died for
you. Can you think of any reason why you couldn’t invite Him into
your life right now?
■ ___________, I wonder if I could be of any help to you as you consider
closing in on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? What do you
consider to be the major roadblocks that stand in the way of your
decision for Christ?
■ ___________, if God has a plan for every minute detail of the universe, doesn’t it sound logical to assume He might have a plan for
your life? Would you like to know about that plan?
■ ___________, God has created you with so much potential, so many
abilities. I would love to help you begin your walk with Christ. He
can channel all your talents into a life of meaning and purpose.
■ ___________, I know your life/family has been filled with pain and
disappointment. Would you be willing to allow Jesus Christ to come
into your life, forgive your past and help you start fresh and new?
■ ___________, does the Gospel of Christ make sense to you? Do you
have intellectual or spiritual questions? How may I help you begin
to follow Christ?
Short Sheet #15:
Beginning a Journey with Jesus
(first of five follow-up Bible studies for after camp)
To the Leader: The following discussion is designed for kids who have
been to Young Life camp, have decided to trust Jesus Christ and have
just returned home. It includes some processing of the camp experience
and the shock of returning home, some review of what happened to
them spiritually and some preparation for what they can expect in the
coming days. The format is the same format used for the Planning
Sheets in the Young Life Campaigner Handbook.
Ice Breaker (Choose one or more, depending on group size.)
■ What surprised you most about Young Life camp? What has
surprised you most about returning home? Has anything been
particularly difficult about being home? Particularly good?
■ What’s the first thing you did when you got home? What’s the
first thing you told your friends/parents? Has anyone had the
opportunity to talk with someone about the “spiritual” side of
camp? Would you mind telling us what that conversation was
■ Complete the following statements:
One thing I did at camp that I’ll never forget is ___________.
One thing I heard that I’ll never forget is _____________.
Bridge statement
A lot has happened to you in the last two weeks, physically, mentally,
emotionally, spiritually. Today we want to take some time to regroup, to
talk about where we’ve been and where we go from here.
Examination of Scripture
Read John 1:43-51 and discuss the following questions.
■ Jesus asked Philip to follow him and Philip did exactly that.
Plus Philip tried to convince his friend Nathanael to follow
Jesus, too. In verse 45, what tactics did Philip use to persuade
Nathanael to follow Jesus?
■ Before you decided to follow Jesus, did anyone talk with you
personally about following Him? Would you mind sharing with
us who talked with you and some of what they said?
■ Nathanael was unimpressed with Philip’s presentation of the
facts. In fact, Nathanael was essentially mocking Jesus before
he met Him. What was your attitude toward Jesus before you
met Him?
■ Philip’s intellectual reasoning with Nathanael failed. What
was Philip’s next tactic to persuade Nathanael in verse 46?
■ Nathanael ended up taking a look at Jesus for himself because
Philip invited him to do just that. How did you end up at
Young Life camp taking a look at Jesus for yourself?
■ What was it about Jesus that changed Nathanael’s perspective
and convinced him to follow Christ?
■ What was it about Jesus that changed your perspective and
convinced you to follow Christ?
■ A good look at Jesus changed Nathanael from a sarcastic skeptic to an enthusiastic believer. What is something about you
What has changed since you got a good look at Jesus?
■ Jesus seemed almost amused at how easy it was to impress
Nathanael. He said, basically, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
Young Life camp may have been one of the best weeks of your
life. If so, it was probably because that is where you finally recognized Jesus for who He is. But Jesus looks at how impressed
we are with Young Life camp and says with a smile, “You ain’t
seen nothin’ yet!” The best is yet to come. You’ve begun a journey with Jesus, a journey of following Him through life. And as
great as camp may have been, the road ahead with Jesus holds
much more than what you experienced at camp. In the next
few weeks of Campaigners, we’re going to explore just a few of
the “greater things than these” that Jesus has in store for you
as you undertake your journey with Him.
A verse to meditate on for the week and memorize
(Leader chooses one.)
■ 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
■ 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a
new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
See items 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 in “Examination of Scripture” section above.
Action step for the week (Choose one.)
■ Assign reading from Scripture and have the kids write down
questions that come up as they read. Perhaps a few verses
from John each day, beginning with 1:1, would be appropriate.
Ask them to bring their questions to Campaigners next week.
If you do this, be sure to make time to discuss their questions
during the next meeting. Or perhaps you’d like to challenge
them to call you sometime during the week with at least two
questions concerning what they’ve read.
■ Make the following assignment: Take a few moments this week
to write a letter to Jesus. Thank him for the people He has
used to introduce you to Him. Thank Him for the characteristics He has that make you want to follow Him. Thank Him for
“Therefore, if
anyone is in
Christ, he is a
new creation; the
old has gone, the
new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
the changes He is already making in you. Thank Him for the
“greater things than these” that He has prepared for you in the
future. Ask Him for help in facing specific challenges in your
life this week.
■ Complete daily readings in a booklet or pamphlet. (See Short
Sheet #6.)
Short Sheet #16:
Your Guide
(second of five follow-up Bible studies for after camp)
To the Leader: By the second week home from camp, kids may be
struggling with the temptation to return to some old habits. They may
be discouraged by some of the obstacles they face at home. The goal of
this discussion is to remind kids that Jesus is not back at camp, He is
present with them and within them. He is present to give strength,
direction and encouragement. Kids may be surprised to find out that
God does not want them to live a Christian life — He wants to live His
life through them. You may need materials for this section, depending
on which questions you choose. The materials needed include pipe
cleaners (Ice Breaker, square 3, 4) and envelopes (Examination of
Scripture, square 5).
Ice Breaker (Choose one or more.)
■ When you were little, did you have a bosom buddy? Someone
you stuck to like glue? Who was it and what were some of the
things you did together?
■ Have you ever been close to someone who has moved away or
has gone away for a few weeks? What happened to your relationship when you were apart? What steps did you take to try
to stay close to one another? Did it work?
■ (Leader: Hand out pipe cleaners, one per person, and give the
following directions.) This pipe cleaner represents your life for
the past two weeks, ever since we returned from camp. It is a
timeline of sorts. Bend and shape the pipe cleaner to represent
your relationship with God over the past two weeks, then
explain your timeline to the group. (Leaders lead first and
model vulnerability. Typical explanations of the pipe cleaner
usually include “hills” and “valleys” and “plains” to represent
the ups, downs and smooth times with God.)
■ (Leader: Hand out pipe cleaners, two per person, preferably of
two different colors, and give the following directions.) One
pipe cleaner represents you. The other pipe cleaner represents
God. Use the two pipe cleaners to illustrate your relationship
with God since camp, then explain your pipe cleaners to the
■ Have you noticed any differences in yourself since you’ve been
home from camp? Different attitudes, perspectives, feelings
toward other people? What have some of those differences
■ When have you felt closest to God in the past two weeks? What
has helped you feel close to God? What is it about camp that
makes it easy to feel close to God there? What has made it difficult to feel close to God at home?
Bridge statement
When we’re at camp, it is easy to feel close to God. When we get home,
sometimes we feel all on our own. That can be tough, especially when
we’re facing difficult situations or temptations. Today we want to talk
about what we “feel” versus what is “real.”
Examination of Scripture
Read John 14:15-20 and discuss the following questions. Background:
Jesus is talking to His closest circle of friends, His disciples, right
before He was to be arrested and crucified. They had been with Jesus
day in and day out for three years. Now they were about to be separated from Him by death. It’s probably safe to say they felt many times
worse than we felt on the last night of camp when we had to say our
■ In verse 18, what did Jesus say to His friends to comfort them?
Describe your mental picture of an orphan. Describe the opposite of an orphan. Which description would Jesus use for you?
Why? Which best describes how you’ve felt since you’ve been
home from camp and why?
■ Jesus says He will come to his followers. In verses 16 and 17,
He gives some details of His coming. What are two of the
names Jesus uses in these verses to describe the form in which
He will come?
According to verse 17, where will the Counselor, the Spirit
of Truth, be when He comes to Jesus’ followers? Have you
noticed any differences on the inside since you met Jesus?
Describe those differences. According to verse 16, how long will
the Comforter be with us? Does Jesus list any exceptions such
as, “He will be with you forever as long as you don’t make too
many mistakes?” Or, “He will be with you forever as long as
you remember to pray and read your Bible every day?”
■ Imagine you are a principal at a high school. You have an
opening in your school for a counselor. A young man walks in
your office one day to apply for the job. He asks you what the
job will involve. What do you say? Have you sensed Jesus
counseling you in any way over the past two weeks? Has he
given you any advice? Comforted you? Would anyone like to
share a specific example of when Jesus has counseled you?
■ Jesus says He will come as the Spirit of Truth to live inside us.
If a five year old were to tug on your shirt tail and ask, “What
is a spirit?” what would you say? The Bible uses a capital “s” at
the beginning of the phrase “Spirit of Truth.” What does a capital letter at the beginning of a word usually tell you about the
word? The Spirit of Truth is not a nameless mist or green
smoke that floats in the air. It is a person, Jesus, who comes to
live inside you. According to the full name of the Spirit, what is
one of the dominant characteristics of the Spirit? What are
synonyms for “true?” If you were a teacher making a true or
false test, what other words could you use besides “true” and
“false?” Jesus gives us a true perspective on life. How has your
perspective — how you see the world — changed since you met
Jesus? You are on a journey of following Jesus. He is your
guide for the journey, living inside of you. It’s nice to know that
your guide is the Spirit of Truth. Is there any situation you are
facing this week where you need your guide to show you the
right way to go, the wise choice to make?
■ Envelope exercise: Either demonstrate or give each person a
set of envelopes and lead them through the following illustration. You need three envelopes of three different sizes and a
slip of paper for this illustration. Have someone read verse 20,
pausing after each comma, until you tell them to go on. At the
first pause, write the word “Father” on the largest envelope,
and the word “Jesus” on the medium envelope. Put “Jesus”
inside the “Father.” At the second pause, write your name on
the remaining envelope and slip it inside the Jesus envelope
(which is inside the Father envelope). At the third pause, write
the name “Jesus” on the slip of paper and slip it into the envelope with your name on it. (You will have a slip of paper inside
an envelope, inside a second envelope, inside a third envelope.)
This demonstrates the intimate relationship we have with God
the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. If each person has made their own envelope illustration, encourage them
to use it as a bookmark. Write John 14:20 on the outside and
encourage them to mark that place to remind themselves that
Jesus is not back at camp, He is within them.
■ Jesus doesn’t believe in long-distance relationships. There was
a popular song a few years ago that said, “God is watching us
— from a distance.” This isn’t the case with followers of Jesus
Christ. God is with us, within us, in the form of the Holy
Spirit. Still, we must take action to interact with God, to
develop our relationship with Him. When people are separated
by distance, what are some actions they might take to remain
close? We are not separated from God, but what actions might
we take to remain “feeling” close to God?
A verse to meditate on and memorize (Leader choose one.)
■ John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you
another Counselor to be with you forever.”
■ John 14:20, “On that day you will realize that I am in my
Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
“On that day
you will realize
that I am in my
Father, and you
are in me, and I
am in you.”
John 14:20
Perhaps you “feel” like Jesus lives at Young Life camp, and now that
you’re home you have a long-distance relationship with Him. According
to Jesus, this isn’t so. He is with you and within you all the time. Is
there any activity you are currently participating in that perhaps Jesus
doesn’t enjoy being part of? Is there any relationship that He is uncomfortable with? Is there any struggle you are facing that now you can
know you don’t face alone? Is there any time in your week when you
can just take time to enjoy your companion? Is there any decision you
are facing that you need your guide, the Spirit of Truth, to give you
direction concerning?
Action step for the week (Choose one.)
■ Raise your hand if you agree with this statement: God wants
me to live a Christian life. (After the vote:) This is a trick question. God doesn’t want you to live a Christian life. He wants to
live His life through you. Think of a situation in your life right
now that is difficult for you to deal with. It might be a relationship, an old habit, some tough circumstances. This week, when
you face that situation, stop and tell God silently that you cannot live the Christian life in this situation. Ask Him to live His
life through you. Let us know how it went next week.
■ Identify one situation you are facing this week where you need
advice from the Counselor, direction from the Spirit of Truth.
Write this situation on a slip of paper and carry it in your
Bible. Ask Jesus to give you advice and direction concerning
this situation. Let us know next week what happened.
■ Make a personal plan to get away at least once this week
to simply enjoy some time with Jesus. Take a walk with
Him. Watch a sunset together. Lay out and look at the stars
together. Ask Him to speak to you from within. Let us know
next week how it went.
Short Sheet #17:
Conversations Along the Trail
(third of five follow-up Bible studies for after camp)
To the Leader: The following discussion is designed to introduce kids
to the concept of communicating with God daily through prayer and
Bible study.
Kids will be encouraged to listen to God and to speak with Him as well.
Please note: There are probably more questions than you can possibly
cover in one discussion. It depends on the group. In any case, the goal is
not to try to cover every question. The goal is to stimulate good discussion that makes kids aware of their new ability to communicate with
God through listening and speaking.
Ice Breaker (Choose one or more.)
■ With whom do you enjoy talking and why? Have you always
enjoyed talking with this person? If not, what steps did you
have to take to get to where you are today?
■ If you need some good advice, to whom do you go and why?
■ If you could ask God any question and be guaranteed an audible answer, what would you ask?
■ Play a listening game. (Don’t let the kids know you are playing
a listening game. Following are the guidelines.)
• If you have a group larger than seven, divide the group into
small groups of four kids each. If you have a group of seven
or less, remain in one group.
• Have each student share three things about themselves. For
example: their birth date; any facts they know about their
birth; their best birthday celebration or gift.
• After everyone in the group has shared, bring the group
back together and offer a $1 bill to anyone who can repeat
all of the information given by the other members of the
• Ask the question, “Why is it easier to talk about ourselves
than to listen to other people?”
• Have the students list on a big piece of paper or a wipe-dry
board the characteristics of a good listener.
Bridge statement
■ God wants you to really enjoy talking with Him. But just as it
takes time and effort to build good communication with people,
it takes time and effort to become comfortable talking with
God. Let’s get started now!
■ There is great news for us as we undertake our journey of faith
with Jesus. He is available at any moment to give us advice or
answer our questions, even though you probably won’t hear
Him audibly. Let’s talk about how you do hear and speak with
■ Good communication is the key to a good relationship. And listening is probably more important than speaking in learning
to communicate effectively. Let’s talk about learning to communicate with God. We’ll start by finding out what it means to listen to Him.
Examination of Scripture
There will be a variety of Scripture used in this discussion. It is best to
look up the verses one at a time and as needed (John 16:12-14; John
14:25, 26, 23; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 58:6-8).
■ John 16:12-14. The point: God has a lot to say to us and speaks
through the Spirit within us. We listen with our hearts and
• Jesus is talking with His disciples before He is about to be
put to death. What problem does Jesus point out in verse
12? What does He offer as the solution to the problem in
verse 13?
• In verses 13 and 14, Jesus makes five “He will” statements
about the Spirit of Truth. What are those statements? (Note:
You may wish to write these on large pieces of paper or on a
wipe-dry board as the kids call them out to you.) The Spirit
speaks what the Father tells Him. He shows you the right
way to go in life. One test you can use to decide if it is the
Spirit directing you is this: when you do what the Spirit says
to do, it will make Jesus look good.
• We don’t hear God with our ears (usually!) but with our
hearts and our minds. Our heart is our “will” at the center of
our being. God’s Spirit “nudges” our will one direction or
another. In other words, he encourages us to say, “Yes, I will
do that” or “No, I will not do that.” Can you think of any
time since you’ve been home from camp when God convinced
you to say, “Yes, I will...” or “No, I will not...”? Explain the
circumstances and what you decided to do.
• God speaks to us in our thoughts as well. He gives us new
thoughts and a new perspective on life. Can you think of
anything you’ve thought about differently since you’ve met
Christ? Family members? Old friends? Old habits? The
world around you? Explain the difference if you can.
• When have you heard God speak to you from within the
most clearly? What do you think helped you to hear Him at
that time? What can you do today to become a good listener
to God?
■ John 14:25, 26, 23. The point: The Spirit teaches us and
reminds us of Jesus’ words.
• According to these verses, what two things will the Spirit do
for us? Jesus’ words are recorded for us in the Bible. If we
will read those words, the Holy Spirit will bring them to
mind just when we need them. (Leader: share a personal
• Has God been teaching you anything since you got home
from camp? Would you mind sharing it with the rest of us?
Have you had an experience where God reminded you of
something you had learned earlier? What was the situation
and how did it help you to be reminded?
• According to verse 23, what should be our response to Jesus’
■ 1 Peter 5:7. The point: Not only does God have a lot to say to
us, but He wants us to tell Him everything as well.
• What are we supposed to do with our cares or concerns?
• What are the concerns of the kids at your high school today?
What do they spend their time thinking about? What do
they worry about? Are there any items on this list that we
can’t talk with God about? If so, which ones and why do you
think so?
• God wants you to tell Him everything. He already knows
what is on your mind. You might as well talk with Him
about it.
■ Psalm 58:6-8. The point: We can tell God anything, even our
gripes and complaints.
• The book of Psalms is kind of like a journal of prayers to
God. It is believed that a man named David wrote most of
these “letters” to God. In Psalm 58:6-8, David is complaining
about his enemies. What five pictures of destruction does
David give God for dealing with his enemies?
• Do you think David was out of line, talking with God this
way? Why or why not?
• Is there anything that you are afraid to talk with God about?
(optional question).
• God called David a man after his own heart. Apparently God
wasn’t offended by David’s honest prayers. We can’t offend
“Cast all your
cares upon him,
because he
cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
God either. Four guidelines in speaking with God are:
1) Speak honestly; 2) Tell Him everything; 3) Listen carefully
for God’s guidance and teaching; 4) Do what God says.
A verse to meditate on and memorize (Choose one).
■ 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your cares upon him, because he cares for
■ John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the
Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will
remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Application (already interwoven.)
Action step (Choose one.)
■ Say the magic words! Everything honestly. Listen and act.
These are the magic words for the week. When you talk to
friends from the group this week, make them say the magic
words before you will grant their requests. For example, if
you’re with a friend and he or she says, “Put in a different
CD,” you say, “What are the magic words?” Feel free to torture
one another mercilessly with these words. They are the key to
communicating effectively with God.
■ Write a letter to God this week. Be honest and talk with Him
about everything that concerns you. Then, write a letter from
God to you in return. Be willing to listen carefully and act
accordingly. Report to the group next week about your experience.
■ Read Psalm 86. Get a piece of paper and make two columns on
it with the following headings: “What David Said About
Himself,” and, “What David Said About God.” Ask God to teach
you to pray like David — honestly from the heart and with an
attitude that says “Teach me your way, O Lord.” Bring your
piece of paper next week.
Short Sheet #18:
Traveling Companions
(fourth of five follow-up Bible studies for after camp)
To the Leader: The following discussion is designed to educate kids
concerning the value of belonging to a body of believers as well as to
give them some practical guidelines in finding a body to belong to.
Following the discussion outline you will find a survey sheet that you
might find useful in determining where kids are in relation to the
Ice Breaker (Choose one or more.)
■ Human knot (requires at least six people): Have 75 percent of
the group sit down in the center of the room and lock arms
with one another, forming a human knot. The remaining members of the group have one minute (or until you call time) to
pull as many people out of the knot as possible.
■ Did you ever belong to a “secret” club when you were younger?
Or maybe a club that wasn’t a secret? Describe the club and
explain the rules for belonging. What were the benefits of
belonging? Why do people join clubs? Complete the following
statement(s). “Church is a club for _________. To belong you
must _________. One of the benefits of belonging is _________.”
(Note: It would be helpful if you had these statements printed
on slips of paper ahead of time and handed them out for kids
to write on.)
■ Word association game: Prepare beforehand 81⁄2 x 11 sheets of
paper with the following words on them (one word per sheet):
car, chocolate, school, party, chores, concert, church. At the
meeting, take up to six kids out of the room, bringing them in
one at a time to play the word association game. Tell them it is
a contest to see how quickly they can run through the cards.
Time them and flash the cards at them one at a time. They
may not proceed to the next card until they’ve associated a
word to the current card. Have someone in the room write
down each person’s responses to the “church” flash card. At the
end, have the recorder read all of the words kids said when
shown the “church” card. Follow the game with the following
• When you picture “church” in your mind, what images do
you see?
• Imagine that you just received a “church construction” kit in
the mail. With this amazing kit you can create any kind of
church you want, with any kind of people and any kind of
programs or buildings. What would your church be like?
What kind of people would attend? What would the main
service be like? Describe the building or place where you
would meet.
Bridge statement
We all have our own ideas about what church is or what we wish it
were. Today we want to set aside our preconceived ideas as best we can
and let God teach us from scratch what His idea of church is.
Examination of Scripture
Examination of Scripture: Read Acts 2:42-47 and discuss the following
■ In verse 42, “they” refers to people who believed in Jesus
Christ. What four things did the believers keep busy with
according to this verse? Are there any words in this verse that
are unfamiliar to you? (Leader: Explain in simple language.)
■ People join a club because they have something in common
with one another. It may be a sport; it may be a hobby; it may
be a common concern. Let’s make a list of things that people
who believe in Christ have in common with one another.
■ Read verse 43 again. Can you think of a time when you felt “in
awe” of something or someone? What were the circumstances
that made you feel that way?
■ The believers were in awe. They couldn’t get over all that was
happening in their midst. They probably said 10 times a day,
“Can you believe what’s happening?” Some of the most amazing stuff that was happening is revealed in verses 44 and 45.
What was happening among them? What is your gut reaction
to these verses? Do you feel (a) encouraged (b) uncomfortable
(c) confused (d) other. Can you explain why you feel that way?
■ In this passage, the physical needs of the believers were being
met by other believers. No doubt their spiritual, emotional and
psychological needs were being met as well. What are some of
our needs as human beings? As believers?
■ How often were these people getting together? How often do
you get together with other believers? Do you feel that is
enough? If not, how often would you like to get together?
Whom do you get together with besides this group? If the
answer is “no one,” do you think this group is enough to meet
all of your needs as a believer?
■ According to verse 47, what was the effect of the community of
believers on “nonbelievers”? Today, most churches do not grow
in number daily. Why do you think this is so? If our group here
is not attracting new people, do you think we should be concerned? Why or why not?
A verse to meditate on and memorize
■ Acts 2:44, “All the believers were together and had everything
in common.”
Have kids fill out the survey at the end of this discussion. Ask them to
answer as honestly and completely as possible.
Action step (Choose one.)
■ If you attend church regularly, talk to your pastor or youth
director this week and ask them if there is a time you can
meet with them just to catch them up on what has been going
on with you, spiritually speaking.
■ If you do not attend church, tell your Young Life leader (or tell
them right now!) that you want to go to church with them this
week. Make specific arrangements to meet or to be picked up.
(Leader: Be sensitive to the person who has never been to
church. Call them during the week and talk with them about
what they can expect and answer any questions they have.
Take time after the service to “debrief” them — to process with
them what happened and how they felt about it.)
See the next page for an easy-to-photocopy survey about church.
Traveling Companions for the Journey: the Church
Answer the following questions as honestly and completely as possible.
They will not be held against you in a court of law or even in a discussion at Young Life. They will be kept confidential between you and your
1. Before today I would have defined church as:
After our discussion today, I would define church as:
2. My involvement in church in the past could best be described as:
a. very involved and loved it;
b. very involved, but from habit — it didn’t mean much;
c. forced to go;
d. hardly ever went;
e. never went;
f. other _______________________________________________________
3. If you already attend church, answer question (a). If you do not
attend church, answer question (b).
a. Where do you attend church?
What are some of the strengths of your church?
In what ways do you personally contribute to your church?
In what ways would you like to improve your involvement?
b. Does anyone in your family attend church? If so, who and where
do they attend?
Would you feel comfortable going to church with this person? If
not, why not?
Would you be willing to visit church with your Young Life leader?
Would your parents allow you to visit church with your Young
Life leader?
Please feel free to write any questions you have about church on the
back of this sheet. Your leader will find you this week and talk with you
about your questions.
Short Sheet #19:
Tackling Rough Terrain
(fifth of five follow-up Bible studies for after camp)
To the Leader: The following discussion is designed to establish these
truths with kids:
■ Difficulties are a given in life — they come to both believers
and nonbelievers;
■ We can and should prepare for difficulties before they come;
■ The proper preparation for difficulties is to put God’s word into
■ People who put God’s word into action are able to walk
through difficulties and make it to the other side safely.
Ice Breaker
Describe the worst storm or act of nature you’ve ever experienced. What
damage was done? How did you respond? Were you prepared? Why or
why not?
Bridge statement
We’re going to talk about storms today — the storms of life. We want to
find out exactly who goes through storms and what we can do to prepare ourselves in advance.
Examination of Scripture
Read Matthew 7:24-28 and discuss the following questions:
■ Who is speaking in this passage? Do you think he is speaking
to a group of homebuilders about smart construction principles? No, Jesus is speaking symbolically. He is speaking in
what we call a parable, a symbolical story that represents
deeper truth. Let’s look at the symbols.
■ What do the houses represent in the story? What does the
storm represent? List some of the “storms” that come our way
in life.
■ What does the rock represent? What does the sand represent?
■ Which house is hit by a storm? (both houses) In life, who goes
through difficulties? (everyone)
■ If the difficulties are guaranteed to come, what can we do
ahead of time to prepare for them according to this story? (Put
Jesus’ words into practice.)
■ What are some of the lies people build their lives on today?
What happens to people who build their lives on the sand
when the difficulties come?
■ List some of the truths we’ve talked about in Campaigners
over the past few weeks, or other truths you know of from
God’s word. Is it enough to be able to list these truths? What
must we do to be able to withstand life’s storms?
A verse to meditate on and memorize
■ Matthew 7:24, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of
mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built
his house on the rock.”
Think back over the past week(s) of your life. Name a storm that has
come your way. Describe the effect it has had in your life. Were you prepared? What truth(s) do you need to act on from God’s word to prepare
yourself in the future for this kind of storm?
Action step for the week
■ Pay attention to the storms that come your way this week,
even if they are more like mild thunderstorms than devastating typhoons. Take note of your “house” in the storm. Did your
windows get rattled? Did the roof collapse? If so, what truth
could have helped hold things together? Be prepared to share
this next week.
■ (Note: Supplies are needed for this activity.) The leader hands
each person a clean rock, small enough to fit in his or her
pocket, and a paint pen. Each person paints “Jesus” on his or
her rock and the reference “John 16:33.” (“I have told you
these things that you may have peace. In the world you will
have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”)
Send the kids out with the confidence that Jesus is with them
and He has overcome the world. Ask them to keep this rock
handy this week and to hang on to it anytime they face a difficulty. Next week ask them to share the results.
Short Sheet #20:
Young Life’s Sexual Harassment Policy
It is the intent of Young Life to provide a work environment free from
verbal, physical and visual forms of sexual harassment. All staff and
volunteers are to be sensitive to their coworkers. Young Life will not
allow any form of sexual harassment. No Young Life staff or volunteer
may engage in sexual harassment of any other Young Life staff or any
other person associated with Young Life.
Unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors
and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual
jokes, gestures, graffiti, posters, e-mail or other writings, or touching or
other physical conduct, constitute sexual harassment when:
■ submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or other association
with Young Life;
■ submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is
used as a basis for employment or personnel decisions affecting
such individual; or
■ such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s ministry performance or creating an
intimidating, hostile or offensive ministry environment.
If a staff member or volunteer feels that he or she has been subjected to
or is a victim of sexual harassment, the staff member or volunteer
should confront the harasser and clearly let him or her know that the
behavior or particular form of harassment is not acceptable nor tolerable. This person may also directly report the harassment immediately
to the staff or volunteer’s supervisor, the regional director or field vice
president, the Human Resources director or the personnel manager at
the Young Life Service Center.
Others who have observed sexual harassment should report the harassment immediately to the staff or volunteer’s supervisor, the regional
director or field vice president, the Human Resources director or the
personnel manager at the Service Center.
If a report of sexual harassment is mistaken or inaccurate, but is made
in good faith, the staff or volunteer making the report will not be subjected to any form of disciplinary action for having made the report.
Human Resources will review each report of harassment and, if deemed
necessary, support an investigation. Once the review and any necessary
investigation is completed, Young Life will take appropriate action to
remedy or eliminate any sexual harassment found to have occurred,
and/or to prevent future harassment.
Young Life will seek to maintain confidentiality in the review and
investigation process as far as maintaining confidentiality is not inconsistent with investigating the report of harassment, eliminating or remedying any sexual harassment found to have occurred, or preventing
future harassment. Others will be informed of the report and any necessary investigation only if their involvement, in the opinion of Young
Life’s senior leadership, is necessary to the review or investigation of
the harassment report, or to eliminating or rectifying any sexual
harassment found to have occurred, or preventing future harassment.
Any staff or volunteer who engages in sexual harassment, and fails to
cooperate in a review or investigation of a sexual harassment report or
otherwise violates or acts in a manner inconsistent with this policy and
procedure, may be immediately terminated or subjected to disciplinary
action, at the discretion of Young Life.
Staff or volunteers having questions about any part of this policy and
procedure may consult with the director of Human Resources or the
personnel manager at the Young Life Service Center, (719) 381-1800.
Short Sheet #21:
Young Life’s Sexual Misconduct Policy
God’s people have been called to the highest standards of sexual
morality and conduct. This is particularly important for those in ministry. Young people place great trust in their Young Life leaders. That
trust must never be violated by staff or volunteers of Young Life.
Cases of sexual misconduct have profound effects on victims as well as
offenders. Therefore, we have developed this sexual misconduct policy
as Young Life’s policy and course of action for all persons involved.
Every attempt has been made to address both the biblical and legal
The Pastoral and Biblical Challenge
Young Life’s understanding of appropriate sexual conduct comes from
the Scriptures which affirm intimate sexual activity between married
heterosexual partners. The biblical narrative also reserves intimate
heterosexual activity exclusively within the context of the marriage
covenant. The teaching of the creation narratives (Genesis 1–2) is clear
that God created humankind as male and female in the image of God in
order to reflect the glory of God to the rest of creation (Genesis
1:26–27). The conclusion which the Scriptures draw from this creation
purpose for sexual conduct is that men and women are to engage in
intimate sexual activity with each other exclusively in the context of the
heterosexual marriage covenant (Genesis 2:23–25). In the Gospels,
Jesus affirms this creation purpose by citing the creation narratives in
His dispute with the Pharisees over the nature and purpose of marriage
(Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7–8).
The Scriptures are also clear that sexual activity outside of these
creation purposes, either of heterosexual or homosexual nature, is a
rejection of the divine creation purpose to reflect the glory of God to
the creation.
With regard to the delicate matter of homosexual lifestyle and practice,
in the light of the biblical data regarding creation, Young Life believes
such activities to be clearly not in accord with God’s creation purposes.
On the basis of these theological affirmations which flow from our
understanding of the Scriptures, we state very clearly that Young Life
staff members and volunteers shall not engage in sexual misconduct.
We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual
misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients
of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We
do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.
As in all things, we believe in the forgiveness of sin and loving all
unconditionally. We want to continue to minister to those engaged in
sexual misconduct but will not condone this behavior. Medical, psychological, spiritual and, in appropriate instances, economic assistance may
be offered in the spirit of justice and love. Legal counsel, if appropriate
in Young Life’s judgment, may be provided via the Human Resources
Department at the Young Life Service Center.
It is critical to Young Life’s mission and ministry that Young Life staff
and volunteers conform to the highest standards of sexual morality and
conduct. In their work with Young Life and in their private lives, Young
Life staff and volunteers shall not engage in any relationship or activity
which constitutes sexual misconduct, including but not limited to the
■ Sexual relations or activities with any person outside of the
marriage covenant.
■ Sexual relations or activities which constitute sexual offenses
as defined by federal or state law (laws defining offenses under
state law vary from state to state).
■ Any other sexual relations or activities which are contrary to
the theological and moral affirmations of Young Life’s ministry.
Reporting Procedures
Due to the sensitive nature of sexual misconduct and out of concern for
the safety and privacy interests of all involved, Young Life requires that
when staff or volunteers become aware or have reasonable cause to suspect that another staff or volunteer is engaging in sexual misconduct,
the staff or volunteer must report such misconduct immediately, and in
strict accordance with the following procedures. If uncertain as to
whether or not a behavior is misconduct, call the director of Human
Resources or personnel manager.
Any supervisor who receives a report of possible sexual misconduct
must then:
■ Immediately contact the Human Resources director or the
personnel manager at the Young Life Service Center at
(719) 381-1800.
■ Provide the Human Resources director or personnel manager
with a verbal account of the report received from the staff or
Until a course of action is developed by the Human Resources
Department and/or other Young Life Service Center management and
the appropriate field or services director, staff and volunteers with
knowledge of the sexual misconduct must refrain from:
■ contacting the person alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct, or
■ investigating the case, or
■ discussing the details of the case with any person other than
appropriate Service Center personnel, as described above.
Any communication with the press or report to governmental agencies
must be coordinated in advance with the director of Human Resources
or the director of Communications.
If other specific questions relating to sexual misconduct arise, contact
the director of Human Resources and/or the personnel manager at the
Service Center.