Ideas and Resources for your Church's Next Summer Camp

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This post is part of the Children's Ministry Toolkit - a collection of resources for building strong and vibrant children's ministry, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.

If you're thinking about creating a week-long themed summer camp, consider inviting members of your congregation who have specific gifts and passions to help create it.

You can also check on whether your community’s organizations such as art councils, music-teaching organizations, etc. would be willing to partner with you. Or maybe your local school has some great suggestions for subjects or opportunities that have been cut from their budget that your church can supplement for a summer camp. 

Matching people’s passion with a community’s needs, vision, and manpower is exciting! Explore ideas below for summer day camp, as well as theme-based camps including Arts Camp, Creation Camp, Music Camp and Sports Camp.

Day Camps

  • Bethany CRC in Bellflower, California, took a unique approach to summer ministries by offering six weeks of one-day-a-week camps in the morning for their community. The camps included sports like soccer and basketball as well as science and art. To learn more about it, check out this article

  • Sometimes summertime is hard to recruit volunteers or plan a big ministry. Let someone else do most of the work! An alternative to you planning a VBS is to host a day camp provider at your church. Organizations like Camp Kintail (in Canada) or Spring Hill (in the U.S.) partner with you and provide everything you need to make a 5-day camp successful.

Arts Camp

An arts camp utilizes music and song, visual art and media, drama, storytelling, and dance to enter into the biblical story and explore God’s creativity. 

  • How to Create Arts Camp is a free online resource available from Church Publishing. This online document is actually the first chapter to Arts Camp: A Creative, Customizable Alternative to Vacation Bible School and Beyond, a guide for creating an innovative, Scripture-based, alternative summer ministry. If you are looking for a resource that will help you plan, run, and organize a summer arts camp for children, check it out!

  • Evergreen Ministries in Hudsonville, Michigan, promotes its arts camp as a “hands-on interactive experience in the visual, culinary, and performing arts where . . . students have fun, get messy, and most of all learn that they were created by God to be creative.” You can read more about it here

  • Bethel CRC in Princeton, Minnesota, hosts BAC2ONE, a week-long faith-based art camp where kids get to explore many areas of art. You can read more about it here.

  • If your congregation is looking for another way to do VBS, check out An Alternative VBS: An Arts Camp from Buildfaith.org.  

Creation Camp

Creation camps focus on God’s creation and our responsibility in taking care of it. 

  • Wild Wonder was created for elementary-age children by A Rocha, a Christian conservation organization that works to help Christians better understand our role in God’s creation and our responsibilities to help it flourish. To read more about it, check out this article. Read about how one church utilized this curriculum for their own day camp here

  • Illustrated Children’s Ministry uses giant-sized coloring pages as the basis for its curriculum. Check out there 12-session curriculum An Illustrated Earth: Celebrating God’s Creation.

Music Camp

Whether you are utilizing music within an arts camp or having a specific camp focused just on music, there are various resources for you to explore. 

  • Choirster’s Guild has multiple resources for children’s musicals that are not difficult to put together and come with a lot of helpful guidelines. 

  • Expose kids to art of drumming with All Hands In: Drumming the Biblical Narrative, a creative, fun resource that combines percussion and biblical storytelling. Ten Bible stories are retold through a percussion groove, a narrator, and rhythmic speech. The materials include teaching plans, ideas for worship inclusion, and an instructional DVD. 

  • Want a more Broadway-style musical? Esther is a children’s musical that will bring the biblical story to life. The director’s score has the accompanying music, but you can also purchase an accompaniment CD. 

  • What’s Up Zak? retells the story of Zacchaeus with funny, lively songs. The director’s edition includes the book, full score, production notes, and demo CD. An additional accompaniment/performance CD is available.

Sports Camp

Do you have a coach or a variety of athletes in your congregation who might be willing to share their expertise? Begin each day with a sport themed devotional and then break the children into different sporting groups to learn skills and practice. 

Three CRC churches in Chatham, Ontario, decided to take a new approach to summer ministries with children by hosting a week-long soccer camp rather than their usual VBS.

Have questions? Our Children's Ministry Catalyzer would love to talk with you about faith formation in children at your church. Email [email protected]

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