For Your Group
Give each student a 9 x12 envelope to decorate on Monday when you arrive, then mount all the envelopes on a wall in the cabin. Leave paper and pencils around a table for students to write notes to put in the envelopes for others. Provide simple rules for the notes so they stay focused on encouragement.
Prior to camp, assign your student leaders a responsibility for camp preparation and a role during camp. If they know early, students can help teach your in-cabin Bible studies, share their testimony, help with lights out, plan in-cabin recreation options, etc.
Instead of just coming early to the tabernacle to sit each evening, teach your students to prayer walk. Each evening when the students arrive at the tabernacle, encourage the group to prayer walk for the invitation, themselves, their peers and the leadership of the service. Prayer walking can be done in silent as students walk through the aisles or students could gather before the service at the altar in small groups to pray for the service.
Plan Morning Quiet Time
Think through how to create an environment in your cabin for quiet times. You can play music or have a sponsor pray over their group before they have their private devotional time. Consider beginning your morning quiet time as a group so you can teach 3-5 minutes on how to have a private time of worship. After you teach your students how, send them to a part of the cabin to read and study (not to their bunks!). Make sure students can start on time and end on time because of the tight morning schedule.
Establish New Spiritual Traditions
Talk with the upper classmen attending this year and brainstorm a new Falls Creek tradition they can pass on to the next generation. Traditions can be funny or serious. Some ideas might include: reading a book of the Bible out loud as a group, taking communion together, unique prayer times, special meals, upperclassmen encouraging the younger students, etc. If your group has the tradition of doing pranks in the cabin or around grounds, change the tradition to something more encouraging and God-honoring.
Assign one adult in the group to be the recreation coordinator of the group. They can help students get into the tournaments, plan recreation for rainy days and even create ideas for late night activities before the devotional times. Make sure every person in the group has something to do during recreation. If students do not sleep during recreation, they sleep better at night.
Every group has issues getting students to sleep each night. Invent a special way for your group to do lights out. Some groups turn off the lights and pray out loud for the next day. Some groups get all the students in bed and then sponsors go bunk to bunk to pray with each student. Some groups sing a certain song each night, etc. Create your own special way to go to sleep each night. Some students have not had anyone encourage them as they went to sleep since they were a baby.
We suggest that you put students into “families” for discussion groups during the morning in-cabin Bible study and the evening cabin devotional. You can organize these groups in a way that works best for your students (grade, school, coed, or not), but make sure an adult or two is in every group to facilitate the discussion. To help the sponsors learn more about students in their family groups, have the students complete a Student Profile Form.
Come up with creative names or themes for each family group (animals, foods, colors, etc). You can even use the family groups for recreation, KP, worship preparation, etc. When students spend time working together, communication in the small group settings will improve when they are discussing significant spiritual issues. Ideas for the small groups are provided with the morning in-cabin Bible study guide and the evening devotional guide.
Many groups have special meals or themes for each day or evening to add interest to the day. Consider an emphasis for each day so students can bring clothing for that day’s theme: Fiesta Night, Dress-Up Night, 80’s Night, All American Night, etc. Be creative, but make sure the theme will not distract other groups or the goals of camp, especially if they wear their theme gear to the evening service. Just because it is a creative idea, does not mean it is a great idea.
Wear something all week to help your group build group identity. Necklaces, headbands, t-shirts, hats or name badges will help build group unity and help identify your group in the crowd.
Create a Standard
If the adults from your group are going to reserve seats early each night, you will need a way for your students to find your seats when they enter. Create a tall “standard” for your group that can be easily seen and it represents your group or your camp theme. Make sure it can lay down during the service so it will not block the view of the people behind you. Also, enter your standard in the standard design contest!
Serve the Servants
Find creative ways to serve Falls Creek staff. Bring them soft drinks, encouraging notes, snacks, etc. Definitely encourage the cooks in your own cabin. Teach your students about exemplifying Christ by serving people.
Trash Pick Up
Add outside trash pick up around your cabin to your KP or bathroom assignment lists. Being intentional about the area around your cabin while you are at camp will help keep the campground clean all summer long. Some groups use trash pick up as discipline, but it may be better to use it as a way of humbly serving others.