No matter what your camp attendance is this year, any great student pastor is always trying to grow year over year. This article is going to show you a couple of ways to boost your camp attendance and produce some big gains for next year!
Boosting Volunteer Enlistment
Often one of the hardest parts of camp is recruiting enough volunteers for the kids that you are taking. As the leader of your ministry, you need to realize that there are several factors working against you when it comes to volunteer enlistment. Two of the main obstacles are:
- Camp can be intimidating for leaders who haven’t done it before OR have had a negative experience in the past.
- Going to camp requires giving up a week of vacation for many volunteers which is a big personal sacrifice.
Overcoming these obstacles and others, as far as camp is concerned, is all about what you do in the months leading up to the next camp. This biggest thing to keep in mind in regards to recruitment is not simply getting more people involved, but HOW you get them involved. Knowing that growth in ministry depends heavily on the addition of healthy small group environments, you need to be constantly improving in the skill of strategic recruitment.
A great volunteer recruiter knows how to step leaders through a process that leaves them feeling, at the end of the process, that their involvement in student ministry will be the most exciting and fruitful endeavor they could undertake. Here are some sample steps that you can use to on-board new leaders successfully:
- Put together a list of high potential, high capacity people in your congregation that you can pursue for leadership.
- Go after those people and invite them to check out student ministry and pray about whether God is calling them to be involved! (Be smart about your approach. Don’t make it sound like a huge sacrifice. Be enthusiastic, cast a huge vision for them and invite them to be a part of a ministry that is going hard for the gospel!)
- Bring all of your potential leaders to the most exciting event that you have coming up. (A mentor of mine actually created a high energy, family oriented event just for this!) Show your potential leaders just how fun student ministry can be!
- At this event, roll out the red carpet for them! Give them free food, drinks, and VIP seating for the event. Host them well!
- If they are interested in going further in the process, invite them to see your weekly programing. (Ex. Wednesday night service and Sunday small groups)
- Have them fill out a leader packet that gives ALL of the information for all of the different roles that they may consider in your ministry.
- If you don’t have this document, then this should become you first step!
- Make sure to include a place for them to write down their testimony, calling, and gifts.
- It would also be wise to include a background check in this packet.
- Have them observe a few weeks in the role that they decide they want to serve in.
- Invite them to their first training session specifically for the role they will fill. (You do have training sessions for your volunteers right??)
- Welcome them with open arms and stay in constant communication with them and the rest of your leaders as you move forward in ministry together!!
- Congratulations you have just recruited a new leader!
As you bring on more and more leaders, you will make more room for growth in small groups, which will bring big gains in student numbers!
Now that you have grown your leader base, you will have more leaders to choose from for camp chaperones, and if you are taking care of them, training them, praising and thanking them, and sharing weekly victories with them, you will have leaders who are ready to sacrifice their time to serve at camp and other activities!
Boosting Student Attendance
Now that you have recruited more leaders and have plenty of room in your small groups for more students, its time to go find the kids! Here are a few tips:
- Put together a strategy for school ministry and stay faithful to being in schools weekly!
- Communicate with parent regularly about upcoming events, ministry initiatives, and parenting tips.
- If the parents trust you and see you as a valuable resource, they will send their kids to anything that you do.
- Train students to be bold carriers of the gospel and send them out to get their friends.
- Plan strategically for invite nights where students are charged with bringing 3 friends each to church with them that have never been before.
All of these are simple tips to reach students in general and this list could go on and on, but here are a few that are camp specific:
- Make sure that you are promoting and communicating well in advance.
- Parents typically make vacation plans about a year out so do your best to have your camp dates and deadlines in their hands before they lock down any plans.
- Secular sales wisdom says that it take 7-13 touches to get someone to engage in what you are offering. So set up phone trees, post cards, letters, personal phone calls, social media campaigns, and announcements from your senior pastor. Schedule all of this and promote, promote, promote!
- Get creative with your promotion
- Make up new words to a popular song and make a music video.
- Send creative mail pieces that are attention catching. I know churches that have sent flip flops and fully inflated beach balls in the mail!
- Come up with creative ways to promote your camp that will stick in the memory of students and parents.
Ultimately there are hundreds of things that you can do to boost your camp numbers, but if you want big gains, the bottom line is hard work. It has been said before, and I totally agree, that we should all work like it depends on us, and pray knowing it depends on God.
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Student Ministry Specialist