After a few years (ok 10) of going to CentriKid, these are things I’ve learned. Some may be universally true, some may just apply to my group, but I’ve learned that my attitude, understanding and preparation can really shape the experience our campers have!
1) Create care groups. Care groups of 5 kids can gather at your church group time to discuss questions and report on the day. Care group leaders can help you count the group quickly. Care group leaders can listen for spiritual decisions or struggles in your kids lives too.
2) Make your own “mobile SPOT.” When you need to gather your group, it can be easy to waste time looking for the stragglers. Put up a flag, a balloon on a stick, a blinking LED on a pole, or a poster board with your church name. If it sticks up above the crowd they’ll know where you are.
3) Backpack for each kid. Plan to buy the CentriKid backpack or get your own. There are cheap options out there that you can get imprinted with your ministry logo. Write names on the packs or get kids to decorate their own. It helps to keep up with their bibles, sun screen, bug spray, water bottle, etc.
4) Show grace. It’s important to realize you and your group aren’t the only show in town when you get to camp. Treat other groups with respect and some grace. Some groups are just mannered differently than yours, be patient.
5) We are all guests. It’s important to realize Centrikid is a guest and partner of the site of camp. Your camp site provides housing, food, and facilities.
6) Be the bank. Are you tired of “MR KIDMIN, I’M OUT OF MONEY” or “SOMEONE STOLE MY $20?” At your meetings, have parents deposit a max of $30 with an adult you’ve recruited to be the banker. Write an envelope with the kids name in it and the total they have in the bank. Bank will open before hang time and kids can pull money out. Banker can gently remind kids of how many days of camp they have left, how much they’ve spent, and to consider saving some for the missions offering.
7) Prepare for a rain forecast. Provide each adult a small umbrella or poncho. Provide gallon size ziplocks to protect Bibles and a dry shirt. Get kids to pack two pairs of shoes. Oh, and as to Bibles, don’t take the engraved one handed down through generations in your family, it won’t come back the same.
8) Prepare for OMC. Kids get hyper excited when they see their church leaders excited. Go to a party store and get crazy orange stuff for your adults. Get fired up. It’s SO fun. The more jazzed you are, the more jazzed the kids will be.
9) Make Wednesday Super Happy Nap day. During track times, catch up on the sleep you’ve missed. (Don’t tell the kids… or camp staffers.. oops!)
10) Encourage your camp staff at every moment. These students do camp, pack camp, travel with camp, get soaked, get gross, eat camp food, walk everywhere, and deal with hundreds of church groups ALL SUMMER. Hook em up with some treats. Help them with track times. Have a conversation with them at meals. HUG EM. These students deserve every ounce of care we can share with them.
Chris Giddens is a self-proclaimed nerd. He’s also a husband, Dad and Children’s Minister at Pleasant Valley South Baptist. He generally does all this in Silver Creek, GA, unless he’s at CentriKid. He’s also been known to play with LEGO.