I hate to say it, but let’s be honest, most students go away on church trips with like three things in mind: the opposite sex, friends and to get away from parents for a week or two. While these might be initial motivations, something bigger always happens on student trips and at camp. We take time to rest. We take a break from the everyday pressures, pause from thinking about the impending choices we need to make before school starts again, and rest from the characters we built throughout the previous year. These trips let students rest and think of who God is and the plans He has for their lives.
Now most students don’t run to the online registration portal as soon as it opens with the hope of a week of purely resting in who God is (some do and I’ve been jealous of them since my high school days). But isn’t that what these trips are intended to be? I’m sure if you ask any small group leader to list goals for a week at camp, resting in God’s presence would be one of the top hopes for their few students.
Think about it. At camp, students are asked to do nothing else for an entire week than to rest in who God has made them to be. This is so important. This is so refreshing.
Students are constantly dodging bullets of lies, hurt friendships, unobtainable expectations from society. Yet, this week, all they are being asked for is truth, building friendships, and the expectation to be the human God created them to be. How incredible.
For the week away, God is calling them to rest and find peace in who they are, rest and find peace in His power, and rest and run from anything that will take them way from His love.
In the midst of this week, here’s a few quick pointers to help your few keep this in mind:
- Think about a mandatory quiet time– this is a time to sit with their camp devotional or the bible. To be alone and think. Do they all follow it? No. But you are creating a time for them to choose to rest in Him.
- Encourage them to take a break from dating– just for this week. They have plenty of time to date when they get back, but for this week, let’s just try to not.
- Ask them not to call their parents– this will be easy for some, and not so easy for others. You know where the line is, but having time away from the ‘rents might give them just enough room think more clearly.
- Take a break from their phones– there’s a good time to have their phones- taking notes from sessions, taking pictures with their friends, participating with your camp’s social media. And there’s a good time to take a break, like small group time. Maybe keep your phones in the pillow case in your room so there’s a designated time for using it.
- Make a no drama rule– this week only, encourage everyone to do their best to be low on the drama scale. You can’t control it all, but you can be the voice of reason as you try to direct their attention more towards God than their frenemy.
- Relax– I’m talking to you, SGL. Your first night of camp doesn’t need to be an intense session of condemnation and life change. Remember you don’t have control of their spiritual decisions anyway. Open the week with reminders that God loves them. So they can relax. And you can, too.
So during the week, there might be the new friendships forming, the mission trip romance, and the break from the ‘rents back home, but when it comes down to it, I’m without-a-doubt positive that God uses those motivations to captivate the hearts of teens and call them back to resting in Him.
Written by Molly Bell