-by Jinny Breedlove Sutherland (She/Her), LEAD’s Camp Hope Director
Although Summer 2023 is only recently over, it’s already time to think about ministry opportunities in your congregation for next year. I’m the Camp Hope Director for LEAD and would recommend our day camp experience and curriculum 10/10!
The Camp Hope 2023 staff at St. James/Santiago Apostol Lutheran Church in Houston, where Camp Hope has been happening for 10 years, had this to say about this unique ministry, “It means happiness, supporting and caring for children who are starting their path with God. It helps them grow and learn to shape their faith with God, while they go through different activities that correlate with the story, as well as learning to get along with others. As for the youth, in the beginning it can be rough, but we get to expand our leadership skills and learn to love one another.”
This summer Camp Hope day campers traveled; next year they’ll set sail on the open sea. Every year the day camp curriculum has a different theme, but our values stay the same: Biblical Literacy, Congregational Commitment, Community Connection, and Adult–Mentored Student Leadership. Whew! How do we do all that? We offer a 3-week curriculum in which campers experience a different Bible story each day through:
- Worship: Opening and Closing
- Small Group Learning: Storytelling and Living Today’s Story
- Rotations: Art, Games, Snack, Drama, and STEM
The curriculum covers the major Bible stories over a 5-year rotation, as well as literacy activities, math reinforcers, and other elements that help campers with summer learning loss. As a day camp, Camp Hope is attractive to community families who are looking for a safe place for their children to be for 1, 2, or 3 weeks. Our staff offers training support for congregations starting this process. Your role is to build the system of student leaders, who are mentored by adults from the congregation. As campers get older, they have the opportunity to progress from camper to volunteer support staff to paid staff to camp management, all while being mentored by adults in your congregation.
I’m not a psychic, but I’m pretty sure some of you are thinking, “This sounds amazing, but my congregation doesn’t have students that could staff this.” There are options! Although Camp Hope is written through the Lutheran lens of grace, it is easily used by other denominations. Consider expanding your vision of who you could partner with to run Camp Hope with these questions:
- Are there other churches in the area you could partner with and do a joint Camp Hope?
- Do you have any connections with local high school staff who can help find students?
- Are there high school students in your family or neighborhood? Grandkids? Nieces and nephews?
- Does anyone in your congregation own a business that employs high school students who have friends that can work at Camp Hope?
- Is there a college in your area that has service sororities/fraternities?
Take the FIRST step by attending the Camp Hope Info Meeting on Zoom on September 21 @ 10:00am CT. You and others interested in learning more can register here and will receive the Zoom link closer to the meeting date.
Questions? Contact Jinny Sutherland Breedlove, Camp Hope Director.
Car mirror picture attribution: By Pratheep P S, www.pratheep.comYou may use this photograph taken by me based on the above mentioned license.