Today, Kenny and I had the chance to hang out with Eric Woods from Spring Hill Camps (home of The Middle School Ministry Campference!) to talk a little bit about summer camps. Here’s the question he asked us to think about as we prepped for our Google hangout:

“How do you tie a summer camp experience into the rest of your school year?”

The short version of our answer? Leverage summer camp to support small groups.

And if you want to know how well your summer camp experiences really do support small groups, we’ve got a checklist to help you find out.

Here’s the whole interview.

Ready for that checklist? It’s taken from Creating a Lead Small Culture.

10 Characteristics That Make a Summer Camp Small-Group-Friendly

1. Small group leaders (SGLs) attend with students – not random adult chaperones.

2. Main sessions are limited in production and time to better complement small groups.

3. Resources are provided during camp to enhance the small group experience.

4. SGLs are valued and trained during the camp experience.

5. Each camp is built around a specific age-group focus, for maximum relevance.

6. Speakers are coached so messages set up small group time.

7. Activities or mission opportunities are organized around small groups.

8. Churches are provided with a follow-up curriculum for small groups after camp is over.

9. A targeted social media strategy is designed to engage parents with camp.

10. Logistics are organized so SGLs can stay focused on relationships.

And, on top of Spring Hill Camps, who kindly hosted this fun little discussion for us, if you’re looking for a summer camp for 2015 that can help you maximize your small groups, I’ve got some suggestions for you…


HSCMan, I love what the High School Camp team is up to here at Orange. Everything they do and create is based on those ten ideas I just shared. It’s strategic, it’s high-quality, it’s so fun, and they feature some unbelievable speakers, like Jon Acuff, Stuart Hall, and Brooklyn Lindsey. This is only the second year ever of High School Camp, tickets have been on sale for just about a week, and they’ve already sold out of one location. Their theme this year is Questions: It’s Okay to Ask. Check it out. It really is incredible.


NTSYou might know NTS Camp from some of my posts about them in the last couple of years. When we were at our church in Buffalo, NTS Camp was a lifesaver. They helped us accomplish exactly what we wanted to accomplish as it related to small groups. That 10-point evaluation Reggie came up with? We didn’t have that thing handy when we were choosing NTS, but looking back on it now, NTS has all 10 characteristics of a small-group-friendly summer camp. They’re amazing.


What do you think? Did we miss anything? What are some fun ways you’ve used your summer camp experience to better support, or prioritize, small groups?


(Oh, and by the way, if you’re sad because Orange offers a High School Camp but not a Middle School Camp… just you wait. 2016 will be a great summer.)