How we taught leadership at a church summer camp

How we taught leadership at a church summer camp

In many of the Moravian Churches (maybe not only Moravian) you may observe a generational problem. Many of us deal with the problem how to pass the torch to the next generation. How to connect generations to cooperate and how to raise future leaders that will take over the responsibilities in the church and that will be passionate about it.

In my congregation, we try to include the younger kids by asking them to serve in different functions on Sunday or throughout the week and we love to see how they bring new ideas if they can. Of course, sometimes you find that their ideas need a bit of grooming before they turn into reality, but that’s why we are here for each other, isn’t it?

In the last few years, we have noticed that our summer camp wasn’t attracting many older kids as it used to do. Times change, but there is also a general tendency among the kids to dislike summer camps when they get into puberty and having the age range between 9 and 15 years wasn’t helping. We have considered many things in the process of trying to figure out how to make our camp more attractive to the teenagers. Then I thought, maybe it’s not only in what we can offer to them, but what they can offer to others? I work with these kids all the year as a teacher and I know they have lots of ideas of how to make things fun or appealing. I took time to talk to them about the camp, I told them about the changes we would make and why I wanted them there and give them an opportunity to use their gifts.

Leadership is a topic that I have been interested in for a while. I have always loved stories about Joshua or Timothy. They had great examples in their leaders, but were also learning to take up responsibilities, be obedient, courageous and have faith. We chose the story of Joshua for the camp. We started with the life of Moses and the stories where Joshua was learning from him by following him. We got to the middle of the camp and Moses died. Up to that point, the adults organized all the games and activities, but with Moses’s death, we gave the older kids a challenge. We called them to be leaders and come up with ideas for the following days, we asked them to care for the younger kids and gave them privileges and responsibilities. It was interesting to observe how each of them handled it differently. Some jumped at the opportunity and started finding ways to act as leaders, others got left behind and didn’t mind. We had to eventually include everyone in certain part of the work, so we had to talk to them individually. I loved how each of them found their own way to serve in the end. Some of the older girls and boys decided to read bedtime stories for the younger kids after the curfew, others joined us for the wake-up calls, some kids organized games and others led singing of the songs before the meals.

Every year, our camp ends up with a bonfire at the end of which the oldest kids stay the longest and evaluate the camp that has passed. We couldn’t miss it this year either and I really loved listening to these kids telling us how they enjoyed their new role of leaders. They realized that it involves more than just thinking about something fun to do, it’s not only about enjoying, but also about carrying the responsibility and bearing the consequences of bad or not thought-through decisions.  They learned it wasn’t always easy to start or finish something, but when you begin and persevere, many good things come out of it. My heart rejoiced hearing this, but I was also happy knowing that throughout these days, they could learn more about God and His leadership in their lives. Many of them expressed the desire to follow Him more and to listen to where He wants to lead them. When we think of the greatest leader, we also have to look up to God, because He taught Joshua and He also taught Moses. He is the only all-loving and righteous leader that knows the potential of all of us and can teach us to develop more qualities and gifts to be used for His glory.

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