Traveling with a group is hard (sometimes impossible) in a pandemic. Even with the world slowly reopening, concerns about vaccinations and masks and travel restrictions almost make the trip unfeasible for some groups. Remember, the goal is to spread the Gospel — not germs. Here are our tips for group leaders and youth ministers who aren’t able to swing summer camp this year but still want to give their kids fun activities:
Come up with a themed series.
One of the elements that makes camp weeks so memorable is the theme of the week. These are often based in scripture and can be condensed into a few words, like Elevate or Renew. If you want to host your own camp-style event, make sure to put some thought into what concept will be the focus. This will make it easier to plan and easier for your youth group to remember.
Get multiple churches involved.
Who said you have to do DIY camp alone? If your group is close with another church, partner with them! Having safe events with other church groups can bring the camp experience to you while making it easier on groups that can’t travel to other states.
Swap camp for a lock-in.
Yes, we know. Lock-ins can either be successes or nightmares depending on your group. By having enough activities planned throughout the night, as well as well-marked (and well lit) areas for your students to go, you can minimize headaches for chaperones and other leaders. Lock-ins are a great way to recreate the buzz of camp within your church walls.
Set up a “virtual camp.”
“Virtual conferences? That’s almost an oxymoron!” You’re right, prior to 2020, the words ‘virtual’ and ‘conference’ would rarely appear together. But large virtual conferences have succeeded beyond all expectations. They’ve even had more engagement because virtual events are often more accessible to people than having to travel for the event. The Passion Conference in Atlanta, for example, boasted record highs of participation despite being completely virtual for its 2021 event. You don’t even have to create your own curriculum. There are plenty of virtual conferences and camps with material you can share with your students.
Invest in the swag, even if you’re not traveling
Everyone loves a good camp shirt! Free swag is a great way to mark another year of camp. Not having a cool shirt from summer camp can be a bummer to some students looking to add to their collections. Just because you won’t be traveling this year doesn’t mean the swag has to end! At Uth Stuph, we can help groups customize their own shirts, hats, and other apparel for camps and other events. Check out our favorite camp designs, or hit us up for a custom design idea!