Parents, has your student recently gone to camp? Are they about to go? Here are some helpful tips to try and connect with what God has been doing, or will do in your student’s heart while they are at camp:
THIS IS IMPORTANT: If at all possible, Dad’s take your sons out, Mom’s take your daughters out. Buy them ice cream and make the time all about them. Tell them how much you have missed them and that you CAN’T WAIT to hear how camp was. Be attentive, don’t look at your phone, treat them with authentic love and respect. Display to them that you believe God can do great things in their life and what God did at camp can serve as a catalyst for that – really believe that. Even if they had a somewhat mediocre time out at camp, that will speak volumes of love to them.
You make time for what is most important to you, and if you make time for your student, they will know they are important to you. I wish I could crawl through your computer screen and beg you to do this – please, please do this.
Here are some questions you could use to start the conversation:
1. What was the funnest thing you did?
This could be something as simple as being launched off of the blob or shoving a whip cream pie in their leader’s face. Don’t be disappointed if the first thing they want to talk about was something silly – “silly” times when you are young often equate to deeper relationships being formed with others, which is vital for a vibrant faith.
2. Who did you build the strongest relationship with? Who did you feel closest with by the end?
Camp is an incredible time for relationships with other campers or camp leaders to grow. Who your student connects with relationally will have a tremendous influence on their spiritual formation – so it would be really helpful for you to know who those people are.
3. What’s one new thing you learned about Jesus?
Campers are hearing a high concentration of Bible teaching (hopefully) at any camp you send them to. Asking them to talk with you about what they learned will help them solidify what they learned, and also help you learn where God is growing and challenging your student.
4. What is one area you feel like God is wanting to grow you in?
I have been helping lead a cabin over the past week, and it has been remarkably encouraging to hear how God has been challenging these students. Make the best use of a time where your student’s heart will be open towards the Lord’s prompting. Be gracious, but be honest with them.
Your student may want to confess sin they have been hiding from you. They may want to tell you that they don’t think they were actually a Christian before the week at camp. They may tell you that they think they want to serve in ministry now. They may tell you all sorts of crazy things, maybe good, maybe bad. How you respond to these kind of conversations reveals to them what you believe about the God, and what you believe about them. These times are rare, and therefore very important.
How you respond to these kind of conversations reveals to them what you believe about the God, and what you believe about them.
We all know that camp often produces that “camp high”, where there is a burst of emotion and passion, and our student may say some stuff, fueled by that emotion, that we are skeptical of. But don’t burst their bubble. Don’t squash their new found love for the Lord out of them with rolling our eyes, sarcastic snickers, or recalling past sins. Let’s not remind them that last week they said they wanted to be a lawyer or doctor, so being a missionary is probably just another fad they will cycle through. Let’s not remind them that they should probably try and focus on keeping their room clean before trying to be more evangelistic at school.
Look, I know that campers get an emotional burst from camp that can often fizzle out after a few weeks. But why can that not be used by the Lord? Why is that suddenly “not legit”? Wouldn’t it seem wiser to utilize a time when your student’s heart is soft to the Lord? Wouldn’t it be better to pray with them, encourage them, challenge them, tell them how proud you are of them for submitting to Christ? Parents, cultivate an atmosphere of grace – be honest, but be slow to be critical. Maybe what happened at camp was just a burst of emotions. Or maybe it was the Spirit of God leading your student to actually give their lives to become a missionary, or finally confess their porn addiction, or tell you they have been cutting themselves, or make a genuine step forward in obedience.
Don’t miss this opportunity.
Speak with your students, pray with them, pray for them, give them wisdom, believe the best, encourage steps of obedience taken, follow up with them weeks out – do everything you can to help point your student towards seeing Jesus as sweeter and better than anything else in life.
I am praying for you and your students, that God may give you words, and lead you and your students into further steps of obedience to Him, for His name’s sake.