Here at CentriKid Camps, we can’t wait for our new staffers to learn all about our camp culture. There are several things we know they will need to know as a first time staffer:
1. You can live on 5-6 hours of sleep…and somehow will still be able to jump around like crazy first thing in the morning!
2. You will give more high fives than you ever thought possible.
3. You can eat a full meal in less than 15 minutes while having an intentional conversation with a kid.
4. You are on a team of around 20-30 strangers now, but they will be your family by the end of the summer.
5. You will learn just as much from the campers as they will learn from you.
Get ready for a summer that will be way more than you expected in every single way!
During my many summers at camp, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of strong communication. Team members really want to know what’s going on, what’s expected of them, and how things are going. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
What you talk about is what they will find important. Think about recent conversations you’ve had with your team. Did you talk about details? Big picture? Only negatives? The team will place importance on what you communicate most, so keep the main thing the main thing.
Cast Vision Early and Often. You can’t say it once a year and expect it to stick. Where are we going? What’s the goal? Remind your team of this over and over and over. It’s equally important to remember that it’ll be tough to succeed if you never cast vision in the beginning — you’ll always be catching up. Cast vision early, and re-cast it often.
Over-Communicate. Just when you sense you’ve said something too much, you are likely just beginning to get to a point where team members get it. Not everyone is an auditory learner. It helps to say it to the group, but maybe send a follow-up text and perhaps also write it down where everyone can see it. At camp, we talk through the schedule of events and also post the schedule on a large poster where team members can see it many times a day.
Celebrate the victories by communicating them. With a team, not everyone always knows what’s happening. Communicate the victories to everyone, even if they are not directly involved. “We had 15 first-time visitors today!” is great for all leaders to hear, even if some had no visitors in their class. Behavior that’s rewarded is repeated. Highlight.
Praise in public, correct in private. When you see team members succeeding, talk about it. Behavior that’s rewarded will be repeated, so highlight the things you want to see in team members. In contrast, approach team members in private when they’ve done something wrong or need correcting. No one likes to be called out in front of the whole team, and team members will appreciate you approaching them in private.
Meredith Teasley loves to talk and write about leadership, and is thankful for the “leadership lab” provided by CentriKid Camps. She’s learned the hard way that communication can make or break a team, and wants to help you succeed with your team by leading well and communicating well!
This is a guest post from Shane Pass, Minister to Children, at Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin, TN. Shane is a great friend of CentriKid Camps! To connect with Shane, visit his blog HERE.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, minister, small group leader, or just a friend to a child, there are exciting times to be had when you share a meal with them.
I recall my days in middle & high school when our Campus Life leader would come to visit at school. I hoped he would talk to me, sit by me, and affirm my worth in front of my peers. Maybe he would speak to my friends about Jesus in a way that I could not. His presence would break up the routine of the day-to-day lunch rush in the school cafeteria. He was just there to build relationships.
So I asked myself as an adult, how could I show these children they were important and deserved special attention? Their friends were worth meeting, and they had something to share. How could we make it fun? How could I make it memorable?
For five years I had the privilege of going to 32 Elementary schools and home school gatherings to enjoy a meal with kids from our church. Every Tuesday & Thursday I went to a different school and sat in a cafeteria from about 10:45am-1:00pm, moving around the room to visit with our kids. I listen, ask questions, and use my presence as an opportunity to help the child be bold to share their faith.
You can learn a lot about your children over pizza and tater-tots. It allowed me to poke around into a child’s spiritual life, home life, or listen for clues to what or who is important to this child. When bigger issues arose and I was needed as a minster to help them with tough times or celebrate with their decisions, we had already built some rapport.
Use personal touches to help break the ice. I rode my motorcycle to visit them. I wore my leather biker jacket and boots and brought in my helmet. This always started some kind of conversation. I brought my digital camera and obtained prior permission from the parents to visit their child and take their picture. At the end of each month, I would print out each picture of a child with me and mail it to them. Each photo said “Thanks for having lunch with Mr. Shane.”
Something amazing happens when you can be a little silly and have some fun with a kid over a meal. I still have many good relationships with those kids who are now serving with me in ministry that are High School, College, and young adults. Relationships over a meal can go farther than I ever dreamed.
Sometimes we spend too much time and energy listening to what experts say we should do as parents. Oftentimes it is our kids who tell us what they need the most!
Check out these real-life student comments submitted by ParentLife writer, Mia Pinson, a middle school teacher in South Carolina. Their assignment was to write down advice they would give their parents to help them be a better student in school.
Listen to what some students said they really want from their parents:
• Help me with homework.
• Don’t ignore me when I ask for help.
• Help me study so I don’t have to make bad grades. I am embarrassed when I do.
• Don’t yell at me when I don’t understand my homework.
• Don’t scream at me if I mess up.
• Don’t yell at me to wake me up in the morning. It starts me off in a bad mood.
• Reward me for good grades with a surprise.
• Please congratulate me more.
• Be happy when I make a good grade.
• When I tell you the truth about something, don’t go and try to fix me.
• Spend time with me. Talk to me about school.
• Don’t fuss if I get a C on my report card and I tried my best.
• Don’t make me feel bad because I am not smart.
• Stand up for me. Show other people you are proud of me.
• Show me how to love school.
• Pay more attention to me. Encourage me to do well.
• Thank you for always asking me what my day was like and for trying to understand me.
• Thank you for saying you love me.
This list is humbling to me as a Dad. I think it shows that, no matter the context, our kids need our love, help, support, and encouragement. And it makes me want to ask my sons, “How could Daddy be a better parent?” I think they would say, “You’re too busy. Play with us more!”
What do you think your kids would say?
William Summey is Project Leader of ParentLife magazine and does love to play with his boys, ages 8 and 13. Check out the ParentLife blog and get regular updates on the ParentLife Facebook page or from Twitter – @ParentLife.
Serving on a CentriKid Camp team is like living inside of a Leadership Test Lab. It’s a place to grow, be stretched, learn, and try out new things. One of the things I learned along the way is that your title at camp doesn’t equal your leadership value. Most assume that the Camp Director is the one and only leader on the team. While the Director holds the majority of responsibility on a team, he or she isn’t the only leader. In fact, I’ve learned that every member of the team chooses whether or not to be a leader. Here are three tips that you can file away and keep with you for learning how to become a leader even if you don’t have an official leadership title.
Andy Dukes serves as Event Coordinator and works on all LifeWay Kids events, including CentriKid Camps and works closely with training our Production Leaders, Camp Directors, and Worship Leaders. Keep up with Dukes and his interests on Twitter.
I frequently need to be reminded that this is not a picture of my spiritual state. Of course it is not now, as I have already been redeemed by Christ, but even before salvation this was never a good visual of where I was. Never have I been treading water, surviving on my own strength and efforts. I couldn’t save myself and I couldn’t even sustain myself long enough to wait for rescue.
Before Christ, I was dead. Not treading water on the surface, surviving for a while, but dead. Realizing the weight of the fact that Christ didn’t just rescue me, but created life in someone who was absolutely dead and drowned in sin reminds me of the intensity of the gift of salvation!
Jump over and read Ephesians 2:1-10 today.
What’s a Team Assistant? Glad you asked. A couple of years ago, we heard you cry, “HELP!!!” in relation to recuriting adult sponsors and that’s why we started our Team Assistant Program. This option gives older high schoolers and college students a look at what it really means to serve on staff with CentriKid Camps, and gives YOU more leaders to bring to camp!
We do have a strict age requirement with the Team Assitant program. Your students must be in their junior or senior year of high school, OR in college. Sorry, but because we want to be fair to everyone and provide the BEST experience possible for campers, we do not allow anyone who’s a high school sophomore or younger to participate. We know they are very mature and help with your kids at church… but we need them to wait until they are in their junior year of high school.
Its really easy to get them signed up… register these students to attend camp just like any other camper or sponsor. Be sure to include their information on the release form found within your specific Group Leader Information. When you submit your participant list, simply mark each of these students as “Team Assistant” from the grade-level dropdown menu. You may bring TWO (2)of your most trusted students to take part in the Team Assistant Program.
We hired a number of new staffers for this summer who served as team assistants last year! It’s a GREAT way to learn about camp, get aquainted with the CentriKid staff process and gain some great experience to prepare these folks to serve at camp.
Meredith Teasley trains rec leaders who work directly with team assistants at camp each week. She also serves on the interview team and is encouraged to hear stories of applicants whose lives are changed by serving as a team assistant! Keep up with her camp staffer stories on twitter.
At camp, we love games. Games are fun when it’s warm outside, but here are some crazy fun, semi-messy games that you can play, even when it is cold outside! Here are two of our favorites – and can be used for fun Saturday events, DNow Weekends, and more!
1. Ninja Search
Combining the best of capture the flag and sharks and minnows, all you need are two teams and two flags.
Each team huddles together on their side and chooses one person to hide the flag on them where no one can see it (pocket, ect.). The other team should not know which team member of the opposing team has the flag. Both teams line up at the back boundary line. At the whistle, both teams run towards each other tagging everyone they can before they make it to the opposite back boundary line. If the person with the hidden flag made it to the opposite back boundary line without being tagged, that team gets a point.
Divide kids into teams (you will want to have the same number of teams that you have baby pools.) You can also use some sort of large mouth bucket instead of baby pools if you have smaller teams.
Lead kids to sit on the ground around baby pools filled with pudding (marbles are already hidden in the pudding)
Kids use their feet to get as many marbles out as they can after you say “go”. The team with the most marbles out after a certain amount of time will be the winner.
Other variations: Use water, jello, or leftovers. Have 2 teams per a pool, make certain colors worth more points than others.
***MAKE SURE TO PUT DOWN A TARP FOR THIS ONE IF YOU ARE PLAYING INSIDE!
Mary Carlisle serves on the CentriKid office team, and loves recreation and developing fun games for track times. She served in a church and messy games were always one of her favorite things to do! She serves as Camp Director for the CK3 team at Millsaps College. Follow Mary on twitter.
What does kids worship music look and sound like at your church? Our camp team is in a constant learning process on this topic as we seek to implement great kids worship at CentriKid Camps! Along the way, we get the opportunity to meet groups that are doing great worship for kids.
One of those groups is, The Rizers. They are from Super Big Robot, LLC – a family media and entertainment company based in Seattle, WA. The Rizers is short for “Memorizers” and they are a group of fun characters each with a fun personality whose mission is to write songs from scripture that helps kids know God’s Word. They’ve had coverage in the likes of ParentLife, Foursquare.org, The Resurgence. Several months ago, they released their second full-length album, entitled, “Rise Up”. What we love about “The Rizers” is their mission…to get the Word of God into the hearts of kids everywhere!
We wanted to share some of their music with you on the blog today. Get some free downloads of their music by CLICKING HERE!
For more info on “The Rizers” visit their website at http://www.therizers.com/
Andy Dukes serves as a Camp Specialist and works on all things production including CentriKid Camp Worship. Dukes loves talking all things technology. He also serves on the Worship Team at his church, Redeemer Church in Hendersonville, TN. Keep up with Dukes and his interests on Twitter.