Be Our Guest: Exceeding Expectations

10672287_10203441161851676_5465285799157910120_nA few months ago, a few of us from the CentriKid team took a mini-vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I went expecting to have fun and make memories, but months later, I am still talking about how my mind was blown and how Disney completely exceeded any expectations I had for our trip. Exceeding expectations is one thing the Walt Disney company does best.  Millions of people like me step into one of the Disney parks each year expecting a good time, but leave completely in awe at the excellent customer service, attention to detail, and “magic” they just experienced.

I recently just finished a book on this very subject from the Disney Institute: Be Our Guest.

In this book, the Theordore Kimi says:

“At Disney, exceeding guests’ expectations is the standard call of duty. If you study in the Disney theme parks, you can see how that works on myriad occassions each day. It shows up in the willingness of a restaurant hostess to not only provide directions when you are lost but to leave her post to guide you to your destination. It appears at the end of some late-night shopping when the cashier takes the time to find out who you are and where you are staying and recommends the free boat ride back to your hotel and offers a map of the dock..If the little wows are delivered consistently and continuously, they add up to a big WOW!”

As wonderful as Disney world is, it ultimately does not have much of an impact on eternity. The fun and the “magic” don’t have much substance, yet people flock to the park by the millions and millions. This is because all people have expectations, but Disney continues to exceed them.

Unlike Disney, your kids ministry (or any kind of ministry) has eternal impact. Getting Mickey’s autograph cannot compare to making the message of Christ clear to people who come to your church. What you and your church does to expand the kingdom of God is the most important task in the world. People and families in your community are going to come to your church with expectations. If Disney World can exceed expectations, so can we as churches who love Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to find ways to not only meet expectations of guests and current members of your church, but find practical ways to exceed those expectations so they return, train your kids ministry leaders and volunteers, and trust the the Lord will lead your ministry to reach people for Christ through those ways.  Ultimately, we should seek to exceed expectations to glorify our God whom we serve.

In what ways can you exceed expectations in your kids ministry to help make the message of Christ clear? 

We hope that anyone who comes to CentriKid has their expectations exceeded because of how we strive for excellence, build-life changing relationships, and make camp fun! We always try to improve in these areas and ask ourselves how we can make it better. We do it all to make sure that no one leaves camp without a life-changing encounter with Christ.  If you haven’t signed up for CentriKid 2015, there’s still time. Sign up today!

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.

May

1

2015

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2015 Camp Prep Series #11: Grids and Kids

Today is May 1st! Camp is getting so close and we are getting very excited as the countdown gets close to zero. While we are busy here getting ready for kids to arrive we know that there is a lot that you are doing to get ready to come to camp. Here are a few things to keep in mind while preparing for camp:

CANCELLATION DEADLINE: Today is the cancellation deadline! All cancellations after May 1 will incur an additional $50.00 fee for each person dropped. When this occurs, deposits cannot be applied toward your balance. If you have any question you can call the Event Registration at 1-877-CAMP-123 or email us at CentriKid@lifeway.com.

PARTICIPANT LIST: For some of you, three weeks away from camp is coming up fast! Be sure that you pay your final balance at that point and send in your participant list! You can find the participant list here. Be sure that your guy/ girl numbers are correct, including your adult sponsors, so that we can have housing reading for you when you arrive at camp. One way that we want to serve you at camp is to have all the housing ready and make it easy for your group when you get to camp. By having these numbers, we can make arriving to camp an enjoyable experience!

FINAL BALANCES: Remember that your final camp balances are due two weeks before your arrival at camp. You can call 1-877-CAMP-123 or go manage your account online.

CAMP HOUSING: You will be hearing from your Camp Director or Assistant director about one/two weeks before camp to let you know about housing. If you have any special housing requests, please let them know by emailing your camp directors. Their contact info can be found here.

As we prepare for the summer, a lot of times we see the steps and the lists of things to do and it seems like there is so much work still to be done. The Nashville office staff as well as camp staffers all across the country are praying for you as you prepare to bring your kids to camp. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We can not wait to see the amazing things that God does through camp this summer! See you there!

Check out these others posts in our 2015 Camp Prep Series:

#1 Online Tools

#2 Fundraising

#3 Promoting at Your Church

#4 Team Assistants

#5 Spiritual Direction

#6 Camper Care Packages

#7 Sneak Peek

#8 Pre-Camp Planning

#9 Meet Your Camp Leaders

#10 Track Times

Isaac Kierstead

Isaac graduated from Florida State University in 2014 with a degree in studio art and editing and writing. He started working camp in 2013 and has served as a rec team member, stage host, and camp pastor. Isaac joined the office team in 2014.

Guest Blog by Eric Geiger: Idols

We live in an idol driven culture. Idolatry came with the entrance of sin. In fact, Martin Luther said, “Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry.” If this is true, and I believe it is, this should forever change how we look at sin. Recently, at LifeWay’s Employee Chapel I had the privilege to talk about four root idols.

Christian leaders Tim Keller, David Powlison, and Dick Keyes have written much more extensively and eloquently on the idols beneath the surface, but here is a snapshot of four root idols that drive our behavior:

  • Power: a longing for influence or recognition
  • Control: a longing to have everything go according to my plan
  • Comfort: a longing for pleasure
  • Approval: a longing to be accepted or desired

Which of these idols resonates with you? Mentally walk through a day as a kids minister. Inevitably, you struggle with these four idols yourself, and you will work with kids and volunteers who struggle with these idols too. It is a universal human experience that we must learn to address and for which we need to seek repentance.

I do not repent of my idolatry by looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself I can displace it with my own energy, might, or goodness. I repent by remembering the Great God who is above all gods. We can repent of our longing for:

I hope this challenges you personally and in your ministry. I encourage you to teach your kids what it means to struggle with these root idols. They too can learn to practice repentance from idols by focusing on the worthiness of God.

About the Guest Blogger:

Eric Geiger serves as one of the Vice Presidents at LifeWay Christian Resourceseric-geiger, leading the Resources Division. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church.

Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

Collin Spindle

Collin graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Science with an emphasis in Youth Development. He began working for CentriKid in 2010 and joined the office team in 2013.

2015 Camp Prep Series #10: Track Times

When sitting at the lunch table with kids, I always ask them what their favorite part of camp. About 90% of the time they name one or all of their track times. Kids love tracks, so we do too. Check out our post on why campers love track times. Let’s jump into Camp Prep Series #10: Track Times!

Check out the usual track times and their descriptions on the image to the right (tracks may vary by location).Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 8.33.37 AM Last year we added a few new tracks to our mix. Build It, Adventure and Blast Tracks were a nice addition to the offering of activities CentriKid provides. The emphasis of the Adventure and Blast were to maximize the fun to be had at some of our conference centers. Zip lines, inner tubes, rock walls, and more are all a part of the offering. These tracks are location specific so make sure you check out your Group Leader Information for details. Build It was found at every location and featured the Rube Goldberg Experiment. Expect new and fun activities from Build It this year.

At the end of the day we want our track times to be phenomenally fun. This means we take time to are beefing up our tracks to be more exciting. Kids who sign up for the baseball track should expect to scrimmage every day while still learning a few basics. At our indoor tracks our experiments will be more interactive and bigger! For example in Weird Science you will get to see a watermelon explode!

Most importantly all the fun is purposeful. Each track has two debriefs a day where our staff will use God’s Word to teach kids something about God. The debriefs take the activities kids love during tracks and put a spiritual application on those activities. This is a great tool to ask kids what they learned during their tracks and have an intentional conversation with them.

Remember to check out your Group Leader Info on your location page.There you will find your location specific tracks on pages 4 and 5. You will want to print off page 5 and have your campers fill these out before you arrive at Check In. Some churches fill these out ahead of time, others on the bus ride to camp, and you always have the option to have our CentriKid Staff lead your kids through the process of filling out their track time cards.

If you have any last minute questions about tracks email your team’s gmail account found on your location page. We cannot wait to have you at camp this summer!

Check out these others posts in our 2015 Camp Prep Series:

#1 Online Tools

#2 Fundraising

#3 Promoting at Your Church

#4 Team Assistants

#5 Spiritual Direction

#6 Camper Care Packages

#7 Sneak Peek

#8 Pre-Camp Planning

#9 Meet Your Camp Leaders

Collin Spindle

Collin graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Science with an emphasis in Youth Development. He began working for CentriKid in 2010 and joined the office team in 2013.

Apr

22

2015

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Loving Well and Leading Well

There are countless books, podcasts, blogs about leadership today, but one of the topics that most people shy away from is the role of love in leadership. As Christian leaders we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and it is very difficult to lead well if we do not love well. I truly believe that if we can love well in our ministry and in our lives everything else will follow.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”  One of the most important things that you can do for those that you lead is to make them feel valued. The quickest way to create friction on a team is if members do not feel cared for or important. A word of encouragement can make a world of difference. It is important to have great programs and excellent ministries, but the most important thing is the heart behind it all. Paul said that if we don’t have love, we have nothing.

What is the heartbeat behind your leadership today? Are you placing an emphasis on the people that you lead? There are so many ways that you can invest in the people that you lead. Listen to them when they speak, compliment them on their good work, and look for connections that can establish a relationship. Your teammates, volunteers, or employees need to know that you take an interest in them. The small talk and the you engage in can sometimes mean the most.

No matter if you lead a team, an organization,  or your family, leadership always starts with yourself. This is not a new technique or a fancy way of doing things, just a simple correlation between loving well and leading well. One of my favorite verses is John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’’

They will know us by our love as Christians and as leaders. We must start with love, everything stems from the heart.

Tiffany Francis

Tiffany graduated from Georgetown College with a degree in communication and media studies, and received her Master's Degree from Murray State. She has been with Lifeway Kids since 2010 and joined the camp team in 2014 where she works on Bible Study, the camp store, and many other elements.

Apr

20

2015

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Branding Your Kids Ministry

When you think about excellent customer experiences, what companies come to mind? Chick-fil-a, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and Amazon are always on my list. In addition to the products and services these companies offer, they work hard to make customer service a part of their brand experience.

Whether you know it or not, your kids ministry also has a brand. I’m not necessarily talking about logos, graphics, or font treatments (although those things can be very helpful tools); instead, I’m talking about how others view your ministry. You are known for the services and experiences you provide to kids and families, whether good or bad. If you have never thought about your brand, you may want to take some time to reflect on how people currently perceive your ministry and how you want them to perceive it. Check out these tips for branding your kids ministry.

  1. Think About It
    What are those “big picture” ideas that you want to permeate throughout your entire ministry? Maybe you want your kidmin to be focused on Jesus, or maybe you want to emphasize making intentional connections with families. Take some time to think about these concepts. Make a list if you don’t already have one, or review your current list to make sure it still aligns with your ministry goals. Ask for input from other leaders in your ministry.
  2. Communicate
    It does no good if you create a mission statement or list of values in isolation and never share it with others. You need to talk about the important things in your ministry regularly! Call a meeting with your volunteers and teachers to help cast your vision for ministry, and re-cast vision regularly. Communicate to parents and families the things they can expect from you and your ministry. Make sure your messaging is consistent in your various media outlets (bulletins, announcements, website, Facebook, etc.).
  3. Live it Out
    You cannot stand on empty promises. If Chick-fil-a simply talked about being focused on their customers but they consistently provided a terrible experience, their business would fail. Make sure your ministry is actually in line with your mission and goals! Provide regular training for your teachers, volunteers, and leaders. Give honest feedback, and ask for personal feedback, too. Ask friends or mentors to hold you accountable and lovingly point out when you aren’t delivering on your promises or goals.
  4. Be Consistent
    The real key to branding your kids ministry is consistency. If you change your message or goals every month, or if you provide a quality experience for a special event but neglect your ministry on Sundays or throughout the week, people will wonder whether they can trust you. You must be consistent in your messaging, and you must consistently deliver on your promises.

 

Try this!

As an exercise in branding, ask 5-10 church members, “If a visitor asked you to describe our kids ministry, what would you tell them?”

You may be surprised by what you hear. If you get inconsistent results, or if the responses do not reflect your ministry goals, it may be time to hone your skills in branding your kids ministry.


 

Looking for more?

Check out A Director’s Vision or Tell Your Team What is Most Important

 

Henry Dutton

Henry received a BA in Christian Studies and English from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is currently pursuing a Masters degree from the seminary. He began working for CentriKid in 2008 and joined the office team in 2012.

2015 Camp Prep Series #9: Meet Your Camp Leaders!

Our office team just spent a weekend in March with these directors and assistant directors training, team building, preparing for the summer, and praying for you!

Our Camp Directors and Assistant Directors will be the ones on site at every CentriKid Camps location this summer making sure that kids have a great experience at camp, adults who come to camp are taken care of, and that the week of camp runs smoothly. What I love about the most though, is that they view their role as one that involves spiritual leadership, not just taking care of details and logistics.

Ultimately, our Camp Directors and Assistant Directors are here for you. While our staff will be pouring in your kids, our leaders will be making camp an easy week. They’ll take care of the details so that you are free to build relationships with your kids and grow your own relationship with Christ! We invite you to connect with these leaders for your week of camp. They can be found on the location page online, and you can reach them by email or by phone. You can even text the camp so phone number if you have a quick question or need to set up a phone call prior to camp!

Check out who your leaders are below!

CK1 (Ridgecrest, Norman Park July Dates):
Micheal Walley, Camp Director
Hannah McComb, Assistant Director
centrikid1@gmail.com

CK2 (Campbellsville University):
Isaac Kierstead, Camp Director
Justin Barton, Assistant Director
centrikid2@gmail.com

CK3 (Timber Creek):
JT Turner, Camp Director
Katie Walliser, Assistant Director
centrikid3@gmail.com

CK4 (Gardner-Webb University):
Caitlin Henry, Camp Director
Jennifer Hatley, Assistant Director
centrikid4@gmail.com

CK5 (Norman Park June Dates, Eckerd College, Lake Yale, SBU, Trinity Pines):
Sara Willis, Camp Director
Alli Sewell, Assistant Director
centrikid5@gmail.com

CK6 (Lee University, Austin College, Shocco Springs, Louisiana College):
Meg Brown, Camp Director
Ashleigh Ladner, Assistant Director
centrikid6@gmail.com

CK7 (Campbell University, Eagle Eyrie, Skycroft):
Will Croushorn, Camp Director
Jessica Phillips, Assistant Director
centrikid7@gmail.com

CK8 (Cumberland University, Jenness Park, Cal Baptist, Trinity Pines, Linden Valley, Ouachita Baptist):
Vincent Thomas, Camp Director
Taylor Brown, Assistant Director
centrikid8@gmail.com

Check out some pics from our Director/Assistant Director Weekend below!

IMG_2930 IMG_2932 IMG_5589 IMG_2927 IMG_2928

Jeremy Echols

JE leads the camp team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He met his wife Emily working camp, and their daughter #BabyMadison was born in 2011.

Apr

13

2015

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Getting FIT: Practicing What You Preach

This summer we have so many exciting things planned for kids and adults but it is so important to prepare our hearts for the truth that we will delve into during FIT:Faith in Training. As we prepare to teach campers the importance of reading scripture, prayer, giving, and christian community we need to make sure that we have a firm grasp of our spiritual lives before we lead campers to experience it for themselves.

It can sometimes be overwhelming  or disconcerting to evaluate your prayer life or how often you spend time alone with God, but it is so important to take time to reflect on your relationship with God. As leaders in your kids ministry, you must lead by example. If we want our kids and volunteers to read the bible, give cheerfully, and pray we need to be doing those things well in our own lives. Take a moment to think about all that God has done in your life and what you are doing in response to the grace that He has provided for you.

Being a part of a community of believers to encourage you and hold you accountable is vitally important. We are always stronger together.  And remember, perfection is not the goal. We will not always do everything right; we are in the process of transformation, we have not achieved it. Being willing to be transparent in your walk with the Lord with your community can be one of the most important things we can do.

Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” If we are not knowledgeable about God’s word, prayer, giving, or christian community we will not be able to speak into the lives of others regarding those things. Getting FIT for this summer requires leading by example and practicing what you preach.

Tiffany Francis

Tiffany graduated from Georgetown College with a degree in communication and media studies, and received her Master's Degree from Murray State. She has been with Lifeway Kids since 2010 and joined the camp team in 2014 where she works on Bible Study, the camp store, and many other elements.

2015 Camp Prep Series #8: Pre-Camp Planning

As the summer approaches, your kids are ready to get out of school and the craziness of summer activities begins! Here is a checklist of a few things that will help you and your group be ready when it is time to hop in the bus for camp!

Talk to your adult sponsors!
The people that you are bringing to camp will help shape the experience for all of your campers. Bring adults and students who you trust to invest in your kids throughout the week. While at camp, these sponsors will be the one answering spiritual questions and loving your children as they learn how to grow their faith in Christ. Also, be sure that all of your sponsors have signed the statement of compliance before they come to camp.

Meet with parents!
One of the promises that we make at CentriKid is that we provide a safe environment for the kids. This starts by providing you as group leaders with the information that you can share during parent meetings. Check out the Parent Packet and provide copies of it for all of the parents so that they also feel ready to send their kids off to camp. Getting copies of insurance cards and signing release forms is a vital key to preparing for camp. Also, be sure that you collect all the photo and DVD order forms so that the parents can get their snapshots of their kids at camp! Another way that we want to make each child feel safe at camp is by giving the parents a chance to fill out a special attention card. We as a staff take these cards very seriously and want to know about any physical or emotional/spiritual needs that the children might have. Don’t forget to fill out a special attention card if anyone in your group has a birthday the week of camp, we would love to celebrate with them! You can also show our new Parent Peace of Mind video!

3 weeks before camp!
The best week of the summer is getting closer and you are almost ready to go! Three weeks before camp, don’t forget to email your participant list that includes your adult sponsors so that we can have housing all prepared for you when you get to camp. You can get the participant list HERE, and you’ll email it to the email address found on your location specific page! At three weeks, you can also pay your balance for camp which will be due 14 days prior to camp.

We can not wait to see you and your kids this summer. We know that you put lots of work into getting your kids ready for camp and we want to make this process as simple as possible for you. If you have any questions as you prepare for camp, feel free to contact the CentriKid office or your camp director and we would love to answer any questions you might have!

Isaac Kierstead

Isaac graduated from Florida State University in 2014 with a degree in studio art and editing and writing. He started working camp in 2013 and has served as a rec team member, stage host, and camp pastor. Isaac joined the office team in 2014.

Choosing the CentriKid Theme

In last week’s Camp Prep Series, Henry gave you a bit of insight into how we decide on our camp themes. We are excited that FIT:Faith in Training is our 15th CentriKid theme! We believe that a summer theme is a fun tool to help share the message of Christ to kids that come to camp.

Back in December, the CentriKid office team gathered with a few friends for an entire day to plan out the 2016 spiritual direction and theme.   You might be surprised that planning for camp happens so far in advance, but there are so many different things that must be written, produced, design, and edited, that it takes all of the 18 months to make camp happen successfully.

We follow pretty simple guidelines to structure our planning day and decide on the new theme:

quadrant.0011.)  Start with Scripture.  The spiritual content of camp is the most important thing! Before anything else, we spend time discussing and praying about the spiritual direction of the summer. Usually, a CentriKid Camp Spiritual direction falls within one of these areas: “Who God is, What God Does, Who We Are, What We Do.” To get an idea of this, check out the FIT: Faith in Training spiritual direction, which falls into the category of “What We Do.”

2.)  Choose daily themes. After we decide on the overall spiritual direction, we begin to focus on each day of camp, and how that should be broken down into smaller spiritual themes each day of camp. For example, this upcoming summer, each day of FIT: Faith in Training is broken up into smaller themes like “A Disciple is a Follower of Christ, A Disciple Encounters God Through His Word, etc.”  This is also where we begin ideating what scripture passages will be used as the basis for Bible Study and worship.

3.) Brainstorm overall motifs. After we have a solid foundation in the spiritual direction, then we begin coming up with motif. Last year, for example, the CentriKid team considered a motif of a factory, a greenhouse, and more before choosing the fitness motif for FIT: Faith in Training. When choosing the CentriKid theme, pairing the motif with the spiritual direction is extremely important to us, and we want the connection between the two to be clear.

4.) Leave the conversation open. Hopefully by the end of the planning day, we have laid solid groundwork for next year’s CentriKid theme, but we choose to leave the conversation open over the next few months. While we leave the meeting with an idea of what the spiritual direction and motif will be, we want to continue to seek the Lord’s guidance in the next summer, and we remain willing to adjust things if He leads us that way.

I hope that you have enjoyed getting a small glimpse into how we choose our camp theme!  Maybe you can use this guideline for choosing how you theme your kid events, D-Nows, or day camps.

We hope to see you this summer for FIT: Faith in Training, and at the end of your camp week, you will get a sneak peak at the theme for CentriKid 2016!

 

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.