Why Summer Camp Makes All The Difference
By Alice Clarke
Thinking of running summer camp this year? I caught up with the kids and youth pastors at Catch The Fire Toronto and Raleigh to find out their top tips. Here’s what you need to know.
Start with prayer
“It’s all about prayer,” said Sandra Abrahams, kids pastor at Catch The Fire Toronto, “We start praying in January. Pray for encounters, and even for knowing what you’re supposed to teach. [In 2018], God gave me the theme in January, but even though we knew the theme in January, it got richer as we prayed.”
“I really like the idea of encouraging kids to bring a friend who doesn’t know Jesus,” said Sandra. “That’s a fun thing for kids because it stretches them.”
“We had a 13-year-old boy who bought a friend to youth in June who was an atheist, then became an agnostic. Then he signed up for camp,” said Melanie Rogato, youth pastor at Catch The Fire Toronto. That boy got saved and baptized at camp!
Get the church involved
Both in Toronto and Raleigh, the church raises money each year to sponsor youth and kids to go to camp. “We couldn’t do it without the support from our church,” said Sandra.
Have crazy fun!
“One of our youth leaders literally bought a woodland sniper suit for the night games,” said Aaron Ninaber, youth pastor at Catch The Fire Raleigh, “It was insane and hilarious!”
“We do crazy games… absolutely insane games. This is what camp is about, it’s about fun and presence,” said Jonatas Rogato, youth pastor at Catch The Fire Toronto.
Don’t water down teaching
In 2018, the youth camp in Toronto did teachings from the encounter weekend. “The encounter weekends are for sure one of the very powerful things of the week,” said Jonatas.
“We don’t do kiddie stuff at all,” said Sandra.
It’s about quality time
“I’d definitely encourage everybody to do it because you get such a quality amount of time that you don’t get the rest of the year. More than a day camp.” said Sandra, “Brandon [my husband] had so many amazing encounters with kids in the lake, just playing with them. They connected to him. Even the kids who don’t engage on a Sunday.”
Camp has lasting rewards
“The level of encounter and fruit is incredible,” said Aaron, “We have a youth leader who said that if it wasn’t for camp he would have walked away from the Lord entirely. It’s the thing that carried him through the years.
“We’ve seen people literally freed to this day over the last four or five years from self-harm. Anxiety and depression destroyed in a moment. People leaving camp and telling their friends they’re no longer going to make the same decisions and even though they lost those friends, God brought them incredible new friends. Youth hearing the Lord for the first time. Baptizing each other...
“It’s a no-brainer. This generation deserves to encounter the real person of the Holy Spirit!”